On being disappointed by the last book in a series



Hello, beautiful people! 


For a while, I’ve been thinking about how in book series, finales often disappoint me. Yesterday, I was reading Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes, the last book in the Falling Kingdoms series, one of my most anticipated reads of the year and I was left unsatisfied – not that it was a bad book, when I look at ratings, most people gave it 5 stars – but it didn’t surprise me that much, as it has happened a lot lately. By scrolling on Goodreads, I realised that the last book finales that had impressed me had be ones I had read… In 2016.  

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It started as a tweet, I wanted to make a caption out of it for bookstagram, but it ended up as a blog post. Of course, everything I talked about is how I feel about book finales and why so many of them have disappointed me, that’s my opinion on the subject and we all have different ones.

Side note: When I say I’m disappointed, it doesn’t mean I gave all of these finales 2 stars,  as a matter of fact they mostly got 3 stars, they can still be enjoyable books and it’s not because I was disappointed that you will be as well. 
The crushing weight of expectations 
The thing is, when you fall in love with a book that will have a sequel, you end up having expectations. Sometimes, you reread the book in anticipation, or you will look at fanart, or read fanfiction, or you’ll just think about it and how much you cannot wait for the next one to be released and you will start having expectations. I know some readers even make theories about sequels, but I rarely ever do that, because I’d rather be anticipating a book in agony without expecting the plot to go this or that way, it would be even more excruciating for me. In any case, we will expect to fall in love with this sequel as much as with the first book or the previous ones in this series, so in a way, we’re already putting this future book on a pedestal 

(But actually, it doesn’t work like that…)
For book finales, I have even bigger expectations, I wonder how the author could resolve everything in just one book considering all that’s happening (I’m thinking about Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare as I type that), I wonder whether my favourite characters will be alive and happy by the end of the series (as I mainly read YA fantasy book series, the alive part is a huge factor, I know it must have sounded weird, but anyway), I’m pretty much lying on the floor for two years, because I don’t know what to do with my life until I know what happens, but at the same time, I don’t know what I will do with my life once I know. #bookwormproblems 
To take an example that’s not even a book (it can’t be one of my blog posts without this)… I’m terrified to watch Star Wars Episode IX when it will come out, in December 2019 (they’re only starting to shoot it this summer and yet, I’m already freaking out). Everyone knows I loved Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Las
t Jedi
 so much that I saw it ten times in theatres (I finally said the number, you can all judge me now) and that it became my favourite movie. So yes, I can’t wait to know what will happen next, but I have no clue about which way it will go, and I’m scared it’ll never be as good as The Last Jedi. Considering how much I loved The Last Jedi, I am bound to expect too much out of it and it scares me, because what if it isn’t and it tarnishes my memory of the previous movie? When something becomes your favourite thing, it’s so hard for the sequel to live up to it, because you have way more expectations going into it than when you started the first book/movie/whatever. 
That’s what happened when I read Immortal Reign yesterday and countless other book finales: I already adored the world, the characters, was already invested in the story and that’s such an amazing thing, because I couldn’t wait to go on adventures with everyone one last time. It was also a curse, as because of that, I had such high standards, for it was a finale and I was expecting even more than usual, which led me to feeling underwhelmed. I expected to love it and that was the problem, I didn’t go into it like I would have gone into a first book in a series, but there was nothing I could do about that. 
I’m not that much of a fan of happy endings and epilogues 
That’s not even about the Falling Kingdoms series, I’m saying that in general (but actually, I know which book series I’m talking about…). When I look at the book series that, in the end, disappointed me, it also was because things wrapped-up too nicely. Writing endings must be so hard, killing off characters can be hard, I get that, but when I’m reading a book where every single one of the characters survive the end of the world without a scratch, that’s so unrealistic (on that note, I should really start reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series, at least characters die all the time).  

(we all know which exact gif I wanted to put, but just in case)
It might be my personal tastes, but when I’m reading a book finale, what I want is to suffer, to get my heart broken, to cry my eyes out. If I feel like none of the characters really suffered, it will almost seem a little easy and I will be underwhelmed by what’s happening. There are so many book series I have long forgotten because the endings were nice, but they weren’t memorable at all as no one died or had a very sad ending (I really sound like a cold-hearted individual and I’m not sorry). There is a trilogy I read years ago that made me cry… A lot, to say the least, and every single time I’m in a bookstore, I take the last book out of the shelf, look at it, say to whomever is with me that this book crushed me and that I don’t know if I will ever reread it because I’m not ready to cry that much again, but there: I read it when I was about thirteen, I just turned twenty-two and I still remember the endingI read so many books that at the end of the day, I won’t remember all of them, but those I remember are the ones that shocked me, that made me cry and there aren’t that many books finales doing this. 
I love knowing that my favourite characters survived the end of the world or almost, that they’re happy, that maybe they’re in love, it’s true, I’m not going to lie. But if everyone is happy, everyone has a perfect life, I know it’s fiction, but it won’t make any sense to me. It’s the same thing when every single character must be romantically paired off with someone else by the end of a series: not all of them need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy and have a great life. I don’t like epilogues for the exact same reason: it’s always to give everyone a cheesy happy ending and it feels over the top (shoutout to my best friend who feels the exact same way). I will be happy for the characters and then proceed to forget everything in a week, this isn’t even a joke. I just think that when a book finale makes you suffer, it will be even more memorable and it’s the sign of a good ending. 

(To sum it up, this is what I want)
Sometimes, I just lose interest in a book series 
or I’ve changed too much by the time the last book comes out 
This is pretty much the elephant in the room that I need to address: most of the series I read and the series I talked about so far are young adult series. The thing is, I don’t read as much young adult literature as I used to, I love discovering new genres and some series I started a few years ago don’t interest me as much as before. 

For some of them, just like it was the case for Falling Kingdoms, I started reading them when I was new to blogging, YA literature and everything else. I first read Falling Kingdoms in 2015, when most of what I read was YA fantasy and in 2018, I can tell you that I have now read hundreds of those. Because of that, when I was reading Immortal Reign, I was so used to most of the plot devices that nothing shocked me, or I was rolling my eyes at some things, because in three years, of course I’ve changed, both as a reader and as a person. I don’t enjoy the same series I used to, yet, I want to know how they’ll end. It’s one of the reasons I gave so many book finales 3 stars: that’s what I gave to Immortal Reign, to The Raven King, to Frost Like Night, to Warrior Witch, the list goes on forever and I just gave examples of series I had adored (please don’t kill me about The Raven King, but like… I don’t even remember a thing about it, when I remember the first three books in The Raven Cycle perfectly). 

Reading book series demand so much commitment, between waiting for the different releases and trying to remember what happened in the previous book; that last one is on me, because I mostly read new releases and then have to wait a year or more for the sequel. I’ve noticed that when I read duologies, I’m not that often disappointed, I haven’t been involved with this world, these characters, this story for as long as with book series and because of that, maybe it’s a format that suit me better. Or maybe I should binge-read some book series to avoid that, I truly don’t know what the best course of action would be. 
Because I often have to wait for book finales to come out, sometimes my reading tastes have changed too much and I stop reading series… When I only have the last book in it left to read (this is so ridiculous). That’s what I’m doing with Throne of Glass – but that’s a way more complicated story, I truly dislike it now , that’s what I did with The Death Cure, the last book in The Maze Runner trilogy, because I knew we wouldn’t get all the answers and that pissed me off (I’m still going to watch The Death Cure as a movie, though). Sometimes I have “valid” reasons like for those two, sometimes, I just don’t care enough anymore and I delete the book from my Goodreads shelf at some point, without any particular reason. I’ve had this new rule for a while, that if I rate a first book in a series 3 stars (and below, obviously), I’m not going to force myself to read the sequel, because it means I don’t like the series that much. I had rated Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard three stars when I read it, yet I continued with Glass Sword and it was just to give it 2 stars, so there was no point in continuing, really… 
Reading book series is so complicated, years can happen between the moment I start them and the moment I finish them. Because of that, when I read book series, I’ve had all those expectations and the books can’t always meet them. I’m way harder to please with last books in a series than with first ones, and that’s why so many of them end up disappointing me. Despite that, there are some book series that have stellar conclusions, I probably feel this way because I do read a lot.  

What about you? Are you often disappointed in book series, or are you often satisfied by them? Which ones have your favourites finales and which ones have your least favourites finales? 
Thanks for reading, 
Lots of love, 
Lucie 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s