Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hangs On A Cliffhanger

As we all know there are a LOT of series coming out lately, especially trilogies in YA books. Am I right? Anywho, with all those trilogies we're often faced with the dreaded cliffhanger ending.

Whether the cliffhanger endings are to "trick" us into reading the next book or books in the series, or because that's just the way it had to end it's, always frustrating. However I've noticed around the blogosphere lately, with bloggers who rate what they read, that they'll take a star (or whatever they rate with) away just because the books had a cliffhanger ending. As if that diminished how amazing the book was?! Huh? Is it because they feel like the author just did it to ensure they'd continue with the series or, in their frustrations, are they're just punishing the poor book who otherwise was amazing but just happened to leave them hanging? Either way I'm not sure I understand the reasoning.

I get that cliffhangers are annoying, I really do. There's nothing worse than realizing that all can not be resolved in the amount of pages left but at least you know there's something more to come. (even if it is a year or more away) Right?

All I'm saying is: Should your overall opinion of the book really hang on that cliffhanger? Should that one tiny flaw actually lessen the books reputation in your mind?

So, what say you? Should I get off the old soap box? Do you let a cliffhanger ending ruin the whole book for you? Or does it just whet your appetite for more?


  1. I definitely don't think your rating of a book should be diminished simply because of a cliffhanger! I personally love cliffhangers at the end of a book because they build the anticipation for the next book! If a book ends up on a wrapped up note I always feel like I'm not as excited for the rest of the series. Cliffhangers let the reader mull over the possibilities and contemplate what they think will happen next. So a rating definitely shouldn't be decreased because of cliffhangers, because some people (like me) might actually enjoy them!

  2. They are annoying as heck if you don't really like the book but you started it so you decide to finish it and then you don't even feel completed so refuse to read the rest of them. They are great if you love the book and are looking forward to more in the series. So I guess what I am saying is that if an author is going to end with a cliffhanger it better be a pretty good book.

  3. I don't think a cliffhanger should affect a rating at all. Otherwise, I would've given Catching Fire one less star and I loved that book! I can't fathom giving it one less star just because of how the ending was left.

    The only time I ever give middle books (the ones usually with the cliffhanger) less stars is when it feels like a middle book, when I feel like my opinion of it weighs on how I think of the conclusion. Those are the type of middle books I hate.

  4. I'm guessing it really depends on the person - some people don't like them because it leaves too many things hanging and doesn't wrap up enough. Just personal preference most of the time. I've been frustrated if I wade through a really long book and then it just abruptly ends without any kind of resolution. But sometimes I like them anyway. That's why I try to let folks know that the star rating is totally based on my opinion of how much I enjoyed it.

  5. I think it depends on the cliffhanger personally...some of them are acceptable, and DO make you excited for the next book (the cliffhanger at the end of Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead for example?? Me and a friend spent MONTHS discussing the possible outcomes of THAT cliffhanger). But when they're REALLY annoying cliffhangers, clearly just designed to make you read the next book, then yeah, I can see why they annoy people. The trick is being able to tell the difference between a clever literary device an an author clutching at straws.

    The Cait Files

  6. Hmm, I don't give a lower rating for books with a cliffhanger but I can see why some people find them frustrating enough to do so.

    I'm not a huge fan of cliffhangers but for me I think it depends on how it is written. Sometimes they make me really excited for the next book and other times I can feel like throwing the book at the wall in frustration!

  7. Natalie, I'm with you. I like cliffhangers!

    Adams Family, Well, yeah, if the books was stupid I can understand, but I'm talking about and otherwise great book.

    Jenni, That's how I feel. If the book itself wasn't good then rate it however you want but should a cliffhanger really lessen the book'r rating?

    Melissa, Yeah, everyone's different I just don't understand why, when they LOVE a book, they'd let a cliffhanger ruin it for them.

    Cait, Agreed! I just think if you loved the book except for the cliffhanger, no matter what kind it is, does it really make the book worse?

    Chrissie, I've read many a book that's ended up across the room when I was done but that's usually with books that were bugging me anyway. If I liked the book the cliffhanger is acceptable to me.

  8. Yeah, I am probably one of those reviewers who deducted stars for cliffhangers :) Lemme explain...
    I have no problems with cliffhangers or open endings as long as most of the storyline is resolved. Great cliffhangers that did not bother me at all were Delirium, Catching Fire, and Eve. In those cases the story was wrapped up properly but left me with enough anticipation for the next book, while I would not have mind if it was the last book in the series either.
    Horrible cliffhangers were Deadline, Ashes, and Demonglass where it seems that the author did not even bother to finish the story. You are left flipping pages to see if you have a faulty copy and thinking "What just happened? Where is the rest of the story"
    No matter how good the story, that just ruins it for me!

  9. Selina, Actually I can't recall you ever doing that. ;) I understand the frustration but if I liked the book, I liked the book, cliffhanger ending and all. I haven't read Deadline, Demonglass or Ashes so maybe I've just never read a really bad cliffhanger before.

  10. My personal opinion is that a skilled writer can write books that stand alone but still make you anxious to read more. Cliffhangers drive me nuts! Yes, I do think they're designed to lure you to the next book, but sometimes a cliffhanger will turn me off so completely that I never bother continuing a series. I don't want to be left hanging, again.

    Having said that, it also depends on the book. The Maze Runner is one that had a cliffhanger ending, but before he got to the cliffhanger he at least wrapped up the first story. I still do want to read on. I chose to just let my mind settle on the part that was wrapped up.

    I have a book that fits my comment in the first paragraph: She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott. It was well written; the author is obviously a skilled, mature writer (great characters, believable situations and dialogue) and the story was good till the end. It just didn't finish. I wouldn't even say it was a cliffhanger, so much as a book that was written so you'd have to read on but I guess it was a cliffhanger if that's the case. It totally ticked me off. I kept the book thinking, "Maybe someday I'll acquire the entire series and read them all," but instead I've just moved on to other books. I didn't want to be left hanging again, so I didn't feel compelled to buy the next book.

    Point being . . . even a skilled writer can lose this reader by not wrapping a book up enough that it can stand alone, even with a cliffhanger ending. But my favorite series books do tend to stand alone fine.

    Since I no longer give books numerical ratings, I just talk about what I love and hate, though.

  11. Bookfool, Stand alone books that have a cliffhanger ending of sorts DO drive me nuts but if I love a book, and it has more books in the series, then cliffhanger endings just build up the anticipation. It doesn't lessen the books standing in my mind. Sometimes if things wrap up too nicely why would I even WANT to read the next book in the series? You know? Ah, well. They'll always be cliffhangers and I guess we all have out different feelings towards them.

  12. I wouldn't rate a book lower because it has a cliffhanger ending, but I WILL rate that book lower if I feel the ending lacks resolution. I don't care if it's the first book or the middle book or whatever; every book in a series should have a standalone beginning/middle/end AND some longer-running plots to link the books together.

    There are a lot of authors who do a great job of this - Ilona Andrews, Jennifer Estep, Rachel Vincent - and that's a big part of why they are among my favs.

    Estep's Elemental Assassin series is fantastic for this - very solid, satisfying endings to each installment - then a little surprise tossed into the last scene to make you want more. But it's not a cliffhanger in the sense of all the plot threads left dangling, you know?

  13. BJ, I totally understand. I have to have at least some resolution. If a book doesn't even have that AND it has a cliffhanger ending I get really mad! A little twist after said resolution that leaves you hanging is fine by me.

  14. I actually LOVE cliffhangers. It's what gets me hyped up for the next book! for example, with Delirium by Lauren Oliver, THAT was one major cliffhanger. and now I'm desperate to read the next one, because the series now intrigues me. Well, those are my thoughts on cliffhangers :)

  15. I made a comment here, but it was zapped! I think I said something like I love cliff hangers even though they make me crazy!

  16. iLuvReadingTooMuch. Yay! A kindred spirit. I love cliffhanger endings too. Even if they are annoying sometimes. :)

    Suey, Argh, I hate when blogger does that! I kinda like them too. As long as I know there's more to come I'm fine.