Monday, December 1, 2014

Discussion Question: Cliffhangers: Love or Hate?

I have mixed feelings about cliffhangers.  Obviously I don't mind them when the entire series is out because I can just pick up the next book.  No problem.  But when the next book isn't out yet and I finish and it ends in a huge, jawdropping cliffhanger, I just scream "Nooooooooo!" and I feel like throwing my book (or Kindle) against the wall.  Knowing I have to wait to find out what happens.  It's sheer torture.
Part of me loves cliffhangers.  They're exciting and make me crave the next book.  They evoke strong emotions and make me care about the characters, possibly even stressing and obsessing, flailing, talking to other people about them, etc.  But the other part of me gets mad.  The stressing and obsessing can be...well, stressful.  That feeling of incompleteness, of having to wait SO LONG (usually a year) to get resolution.  And it sometimes feels gimmicky, like my emotions are being toyed with, and that the cliffhanger is there just so I'll buy the next book.  Well, if I loved the first book, even if it ends in a good place, I'll buy the next book.  The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas is a great example.  The story is far from over, but it ends in a good place.  And I LOVED that book.  So of course I did everything in my power to get my hands on The Perilous Sea.  And you know what?  Cliffhanger ending.  Why?????

Some of the cliffhangers I've read have been especially brutal.  Like someone being shot.  And then The End. What????  Or someone being kidnapped.  I recently read a book where it looked like it was going to be one of those that ended in a good place, but laying out what they had to do next to save the world (it's always up to a small group of teenagers to save the world).  Then, in the last five pages...ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.  I'm not kidding.  Everything that could go wrong went wrong and one character is dying and the rest of them are about to be taken prisoner by an evil person.  I wish, with a year to wait, that the author could have just stopped at the good place ending.  Then there are those cliffhangers where there's a huge reveal at the end of the book and you're like What???  Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver was like that for me.  It was so hard waiting for the last book.  JLA is a master of the cliffhanger endings.  Opal and Deity…those were brutal.  

What do you think?  Is it a gimmick?  Have you ever read the next book just because it had a cliffhanger ending and you had to know what happened?  Would you rather the book end in a good place or with a cliffhanger?  Do you love them or hate them?

Posted by:  Pam


  1. I totally agree with what you said in the first paragraph. If an entire series is out and I know that I can get the next book fast, then I don't mind them at all. But for those that just came out and the next one is a year away, yeah that doesn't go over so well haha.

    Ahhh I'm on the fence, I can't decide if I love or hate them in the end, because as bad as they suck sometimes, it does make me want more.

  2. I love a cliffhanger. I love the suspense and the agonizing wait for the next book, well that's as long as it's not years and years. I love the idea of the expectation but I can see how they can drive one crazy. Great post :)

  3. Ugh so I have a love have relationship with cliffhangers. I HATE when the are gimmicky, which some are more so than others, like THE FALCONER *glares*. Others, like the ending of The Winner's Curse, I feel are ok. I guess overall though I'd prefer not to have them. Like you said, if I love a book I am going to read the sequel whether or not their is a cliffhanger but it's annoying having to read a book just BECAUSE of the cliffhanger. That's like stories that should be one book getting dragged out into 3, or in the case of The Selection, FOUR. Grr.

  4. I think it depends on the cliffhanger! For me, it's all about the romance, so if they're in a good place, I can live with it (like The Perilous Sea). But if they are separated, or mad at each other, or one of them "dies", I hate it. Makes me super anxious.

  5. I don't really mind cliffhangers usually, I prefer a non-cliffhanger ending though. I agree with you that cliffhangers can make me excited for the next book, but they can also frustrate me when the next book isn't out yet. Eventually though the book moves to the back of my mind as I start reading other book and usually I deal with cliffhangers that way.
    I can't stand it when it feels like there's a cliffhanger endign just for the sake of having a cliffhanger ending. And if possible I prefer endings to have some resolution even if there's a cliffhanger, there should be things that get solved at the ending as well.