Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Series endings

Earlier this year, I finished two series. The Clique and Fate of the Jedi. I also finished a complete manga series, Fruits Basket.

I read all the Clique books when I was bored this year, and they're all cheesy and junk food-y, but I have to admit I teared up a bit at the end. It wasn't because the ending was particularly sad, it was just...the end, you know?

The last FOTJ (Apocalypse) was a different story. I've been reading this series ever since the second book came out in 2008. When the second book, Omen, was released, I discovered my love for Star Wars novels. The FOTJ series has been the one that's walked me through my Star Wars journey.

The last book was rather anticlimactic though. It was alright, but it didn't leave me with that "ahhh (tear wipe)" feeling I like to get at the end of books, and definitely at the end of series. Not much out of the usual FOTJ ordinary happens- Abeloth drama, force weird-ness drama, Imperial drama, Jedi vs. GA drama, Sith drama, etc. If you just handed the book to someone, they wouldn't be able to tell it was the end of the series.

I've been thinking a lot about series endings. The last books for a lot of my favorite series are coming out this year(or have already come out, but I haven't obtained them yet): The last Maximum Ride book is coming out. The last Artemis Fowl book came out last month. The last Kane Chronicles came out two months ago. I'm still waiting for all three of those books, with bittersweetness. I want to see what happens in the series, but I don't want them to end.

These are the ways I judge the effectiveness of the last books in series:

*Breaks from tradition. In Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games, all series with effective(although sometimes unhappy) endings, the last book contained a break from the usual plot or structure of the book. In Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, the usual structure involved going to their respective camps/schools, going on quest/adventures, and making progress toward defeating a big scary enemy. In their final books, they contained a break from tradition and instead involved big huge fancy battles.

 *The climax of the series. A lack of this usually reveals a weakness in the series itself rather than the final book. The series should have built up to the last book from this point. The last book should be the final reveal, the big battle or conflict where everything from the entire series comes to a head. I'm predicting The Kane Chronicles will do the best at this. Artemis Fowl and Maximum Ride's books aren't really connected. And Maximum Ride mostly derps around near the end.

*Secrets/suspense revealed. The last book should reveal a bunch of secrets and plot twists that have been building suspense throughout the whole series. There should be mysteries revealed, whether it's a character's allegiances or something else. I think Maximum Ride will do the best with this, simply because so many plot twists are left dangling and there are the most secrets to be revealed.

*Deaths. I know readers don't like this, but there should be at least one major character death in the last series. Otherwise there isn't really any suspense or heartbreak to it, and it kinda sucks. Hey, the death can be the antagonist! I know readers curse authors whenever favorite characters die off(I do too!) But the series has no suspense or any sort of grabbing hook, when the readers know that the characters are never at risk of dying. Star Wars in particular has problems like this, because the authors are verbally stomped into the ground every time any major character is killed. Death needs to happen for risk and excitement to happen. Or else they'll just be like "Dum-dee-dum, Katniss is in danger again, what else is new?"  Think of the dead characters as sacrifices on the altar of Good Writing.

*"Ahhh" feeling. Readers should tear up a little bit at the end of the series, even if the end isn't particularly sad. It's not hard to make me tear up at the ends of series, but good writing should have everyone nodding their heads after they close the book, and thinking about the series afterward.

I have to say, I don't like series endings. I wish series could go on and on forever. But book series often decrease in quality when they're too long and the author runs out of ideas/suspense(hellooo, Maximum Ride). And all good things come to an end, right?

I'll be reviewing each final installment in the series as they come out! I hope to get them soon.

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