"All the world's a stage, and the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts."

- William Shakespeare

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The End?

I'm an avid reader of YA (young adult) fiction. Sometimes I call it research - that I'm studying the ways of authors who've succeeded in the genre I write for - but it's more than that. I find YA just contains my favorite writing style. Fast-paced, relatable and sympathetic characters, adventure, romance - yes, all of those things at once. It's quite the feat, really. But one thing I'm getting really tired of is the endings.

I just finished reading The Hunger Games (I literally couldn't put it down), but it's only the first novel of three. It ends... but not really. I'm satisfied... but I already plan to buy Book 2 over my lunch hour today. I came to the end of the book, but no where near the end of the story.

Whatever happened to the stand-alone book? It's like everything is a part of a series these days. Maybe this isn't the case for all book genres and my perspective's slightly skewed from never looking past YA, but it seems to me that movies are taking this direction too. Is it a money-grab? Is it because our attention spans have been shrinking as the years have progressed? Is it that our imaginations have shrunk too? We can't think of our own stories for our favorite characters and we like them too much to let them go so we expect the author to continue their stories endlessly?

This series idea seems novel, though when viewed within the history of the story itself, 'new' can even encompass the last few decades, if not more. Look at J.R.R Tolkien. His publisher was given one giant book (granted, it was divided into nine parts - but it was meant to be sold as one story) and he decided to make it into a series of three books. Why?

I'll admit, the aspiring author in me has plenty of series ideas up her sleeve. But I miss the C.S. Lewis series. The way The Chronicles of Narnia contains seven books, but each can function as a stand-alone book. I like reading the words 'The End' and knowing that it really is the end. That the good guys will stay out of trouble, for the most part; that the bad guys have really, seriously been vanquished. My brother and I watched the third Transformers the other day and found it hysterical that they've managed to drag out the same villain for all three movies. Megatron just can't die. It's funny until you think to yourself, "Really? That's the best we can do?" Again, it's Michael Bay so I know it isn't the best our society can do - at least, not when it comes to story.

Don't get me wrong, I loved The Hunger Games, and if it's my money they want, it's my money they'll get. This afternoon at 1 o'clock, I'll be purchasing my copy of Catching Fire and, if it's on sale, Mockingjay. But I just miss the old-fashioned ending...

Is that what it is? Old-fashioned? To say 'it is finished' and actually mean it?

Anyway, I need to get to work so I can make some money to feed my reading addiction...

Keep it real!


Christine said...

Maybe we're just telling more stories that are too big for one books. I just read The Hunger Games myself (the trilogy, I mean). I don't think it's a money-grab at all; Collins has simply written a story and a world too brilliant and complex for a single novel to explore. You'll see what I mean by the end of Mockingjay, I think.

Quill said...

I get you, Lars, i really do. While christine has a point that sometimes a story is just too big for one book - your LOTR reference makes a lot of sense. It IS one book.

Yes, I love series too. Harry Potter, much? His Dark Materials? Thursday Next? they are all series, and in my top 10 fav books... but there is a tendency, of late, to make sequels just for the sake of it. Haven;t read Hunger Games, but things like Twilight etc. basically just use the form of series either incorrectly or badly. I think that's the main point. Series have their place, if done right. And, as you said, should be able to stand alone (at least somewhat).
YA's have a greater tendency for this. just saying..