Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Endings that End

I like resolution. There, I said it. Although, to be perfectly honest, my feelings for resolution are a bit more passionate than mere liking. I yearn for resolution. I long for it. I pine. Obsession, thy name is resolution.

This is why I prefer movies to TV. TV is all about stringing the viewer along, giving us just enough resolution to keep us from turning away in disgusted frustration while agonizing us with cliffhanger after cliffhanger.

So I wait until the shows are canceled and get every season to watch back-to-back on DVD, but sometimes even that is unsatisfying because the talented television writers who excel at spinning out a series and stringing you along for three or four years tend to suck at tying up loose ends.

Give me a romance novel any day, where I know I will get my satisfying resolution as payment for my time and emotional investment. Or a good fantasy epic series... which has an ending. For years, no matter how many recommendations I received, I avoided The Wheel of Time & Game of Thrones books because they were incomplete series and I knew it would make me climbing-the-walls-with-my-fingernails insane if they cliffhangered me.

I have temporarily stopped reading Stephanie Plum. Not because Janet Evanovich stopped being awesome, but because the episodic resolution at the end of each book just seemed to get less and less satisfying. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series doesn't even have a passing flirtation with resolution anymore. I realize these ladies are rockstar goddesses, but why do they have to do this to me? And why do I let them? Why am I so masochistic that I keep reading them anyway, knowing there will be no resolution?

I recently got sucked into the Karen Marie Moning Fever series. And book three went flying across the room when she cliffhangered me. There might have been shrieking and a temper tantrum worthy of a two year old, but I confess to nothing. I would have gone right out and bought books four and five - except for one fact. A friend who knew I was reading them said, "Did you know she just got a contract to write three more?" to which my response was "Noooooooo." Not because they aren't awesome or I wish her anything but the epic success she deserves, but because I want my ending and I will never get it until she is forced to stop the series!

Moning. Briggs. Hamilton. Evanovich. Why? Why? Why? Why?

Why do writers with such an exquisite ability to get us to invest in their characters and suck us into their worlds have to torture us with unsatisfying endings? And why can't I quit them?


Susan said...

LOL - I am the same way! I now collect series and read them once I have all the books. So while i am really far behind on some series, I am far less frustrated!

Vivant said...

I feel your pain. Seems like the more successful a series becomes, the more detours it takes on the way to resolution...if it ever gets there.

Eve Silver's Sin series played a similar trick on me. I thought it was going to be resolved at the end of book 3 and was LIVID when that book ended in a cliffhanger of epic proportions. But the final book is out now and I didn't have to wait too long, so I can forgive that. Almost.

I happen to love the Karen Marie Moning Fever series. I was not pleased that books 3 AND 4 ended with major cliffhangers, but I'm happy to report that book 5 DOES wrap up that arc very tidily. According to a post I read from the author, the additional books will be set in the same world, but focusing on some of the other characters.

spamword = lomph. The sound a cliffhanger makes when I throw it into a piece of furniture, compared to the THWAK it makes if it hits the wall.

Kali said...

Dude. Diana Gabaldon = Worst cliffhangers EVER. I fully admit to two-year-old type temper tantrums and the last book took multiple trips across the room. I only stopped throwing when I realized that hardback books can actually break things. I understand the need to string readers along a little to insure that we buy the next book. But there's no reason you can't wrap up most of the big stuff (especially things involving children!)and count on our love of the characters to bring us back.

Vivi Andrews said...

Susan - I have a tendency to hoard the latest book of some of my favorite series - waiting for the next one to come out before I read the previous one so I never have that feeling that I can't get the next one if I need to. Here's to being intentionally behind on great series!

Vivant - Thank you! It's so reassuring to know that Mac's arc ends after five books. I'll rush out and get the last two. And dude - LOL on the lomph. Love that definition.

Kali - Gabaldon is another one I've been leery of because of the rumors of cliffhangery-ness.

Do we suppose the most talked about books are the ones that elicit that strong "NO! I want the next one!" reaction? And that actually creates popularity? Hmmm...