I’ve been reading a lot of young adult novels recently and really enjoying them. Except for one thing–many of them end with cliff hangers. You know what I mean. Not everything is resolved and you’re left hanging. Not only that, but you know good and well that the next book in the series won’t be out for months, maybe not for a year. By that time I could have forgotten what in the heck I was hanging around for. Of course there will be a big display in my local bookstore to remind me. I got hooked that way in the first place. Stumbled over a whole table full of young adult best sellers with book one(in paperback) lying next to book 2(hardback). The message is clear. Buy the first and we’ll leave you panting for the second. And, yes, we’ll stick you with an upgrade in the cost. Thanks a heap.
The problem is, these books are well-written. And the suspense is taut. So I do want to know what happens next. Take Paranormalcy. I liked that book a lot. No teaser chapter at the end. No sign of a book 2. But there has to be one in the offing. Because there were just too many loose ends. And the main character is strong, cool and more than sufficient to carry a series. These authors are good at that. Seems like they’re doing better at it than the adult market lately.
How did I get sucked into this anyway? Sure I have a niece who’s 15, but she didn’t steer me here. I have a friend who writes young adult fare and hasn’t sold one yet. Heard the buzz about the tough competition. Oh, how hard could it be? So I picked up a few. Well, now I know. Pretty darn hard. And so many writers for adults have slipped across the aisle to savor that tasty market, where foreign sales can go to six figures and movie deals are made with unseemly haste. This isn’t happening in the adult section lately.
And when you’ve written as many love scenes as I have, the idea of writing a whole book without one sounds like nirvana. I mean, how many ways can you do it and not sound stale? Or pornographic. Or clinical. I try, seriously, to keep it fresh. But my problem is that I have the same heroine going at it for seven books now. And ninety percent of the time with the same hero. It’s like a long marriage. And I know personally what that’s like. The black negligee is way in the back of the drawer and we watch those ads for the special cream that heats things up, but seems like a lot of trouble and messy. You know? Okay, so I’m writing fantasy. I keep that in mind and soldier on.
But a YA might be a welcome break. I probably waited too late though. The market is getting saturated, by some outstanding talent. And, personally? I hate cliff hangers. I want each book, even if it is in a series, to stand alone. To have a satisfying ending. With all the important questions answered. Any other way is, to me, a manipulation of the audience. And I don’t like it. Might even refuse to buy an author again if I feel jerked around. What do you think? How do you feel about cliff hangers? Share your thoughts here.