Doesn’t Anyone Know How to Finish a Book Anymore?

Why? Why? Why? Can’t anyone finish a book anymore? Why is every single new YA novel a to-be-continued? Don’t tell me it’s about the money. That’s the easy reason. A series makes more money than a single, blah, blah, blah. Well, that’s fine, but I am so dang sick of everyone jumping on the Twilight bandwagon. Forbidden young love. Supernatural forces. Book after book after book. But an actual stand-alone title? NEVER.

This rant was brought on by my most recent review copy acquisition—Fallen by Lauren Kate—released to the public in December of 2009.  Fallen follows protagonist Luce, as she is forced to enter a reform school, called Sword & Cross. She’s here because of a freak accident—a mysterious fire that killed her friend, Trevor. Luce was the only witness to the fire, but she has no idea what happened. So reform school. Another thing—Luce sees these weird formless black clouds. They follow her, and they always appear before something bad happens.

See, this could be really cool! This could be a Girl, Interrupted scenario. Instead, we get all supernatural, and (as you may have guessed) fallen angels get involved. Are fallen angels the new vampire? Maybe. After all, months ago, I reviewed a book by Becca Fitzpatrick, entitled Hush, Hush—another YA novel about angels. Another YA novel that sets up for a series. Then again, I also reviewed Beautiful Creatures, and it was about witches. And it’s also the beginning of a series.

So I ask, can’t anyone just finish a book anymore?

This is no fault of the authors. In fact, I very much enjoyed Fallen. Lauren Kate is a writer who knows how to tell a story. Her characters are colorful. They represent all the high school stereotypes, without coming off as stereotypes. Instead, her characters reminded me of people I’ve met before, which immediately helped me to relate to protagonist and antagonist alike.  Plus, the guys in her story sounded hot. What YA reader doesn’t like a hot guy? I do fault her for taking awhile to get to the “meat” of her tale. Very little really happens for the first 300 pages, so if you’re looking for short chapters (a la the dreaded DaVinci Code), this book probably isn’t for you. However, once she gets to the “meat,” it’s a page-turner. I flew through the final hundred pages in one sitting. Couldn’t help myself. But then, it ended, and I realized … there was no ending. There never is anymore.

I am sick of this. I have had enough. I made it through Harry Potter. I made it through Twilight. (Heck, we can even go as far back as the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings. Made it through those, too.) But now, I’m just exhausted. I challenge you, YA community—please, please tell me about a novel that just ends. Stands on its own. Is beautiful and brave in a single volume, with a beginning, middle, and end. Because I’m sick of waiting three years to finish a dang story. I want to sit down by my pool, spend an afternoon with a cast of characters, and then, be able to retire them, without having to spend another nineteen dollars on another book a year later. EXTORTION!

This is my call to action. Will anyone carry the torch? Does anyone even remember how? Or has the “series” become such an ingrained part of our collective literary minds, that we don’t remember how to end a story in 350 pages? I will hold onto my hope. I will continue my search. And if you can point me to an author who still remembers how to write YA within the span of a single paperback, my faith in modern writing will be rekindled. Maybe.

8 thoughts on “Doesn’t Anyone Know How to Finish a Book Anymore?

  1. Interesting post. The problem is that if someone out there does in fact decide to buy one of my manuscripts and then offers me a contract for a series – I’m not going to turn it down. Now, that said, I would hope to make each book stand on it’s own as well. As far as the paranormal aspect goes, I’ve always loved that genre, even before it was popular (I might be dating myself here) I love all the attention it’s getting right now. 🙂 So I probably shouldn’t recommend any books on the grounds they may be full of vampires and fallen angels!! Sorry!

  2. I getcha. Good point. I guess it’s the publisher’s fault 🙂 I love paranormal stuff, too. Was a total X-Files junkie, for instance. And I do love YA novels with the paranormal slant. I just want one ALONE. So if you have any stand-alones to suggest, feel free!!!

  3. I’ve definitely felt this same frustration. There are some series that I’ve enjoyed and not minded having to wait for follow-ups. But it really does seem like the majority of fantasy/paranormal books are series now. I’ve heard of a few authors whose agents encouraged them to outline sequels because they wanted to sell the project as a series. Ultimately it does come down to money. If publishers know a story is going to sell, why wouldn’t they want to stretch it out? And, as Lisa said, who can turn down writing a series? But it would be nice if there was more of a balance out there. I love a good, self-contained book; I hope it’s not a dying breed!

    • Again, looks like we gotta blame the publishers/agents. Which I’m comfortable with 🙂 I’m loving all these replys, though. Makes me feel like I’m not so nuts…and that there is hope for stand-alones.

  4. Interesting post. I don’t read paranormal so I guess I’m not seeing so many of these unfinished stories.

    Hunger Games is definitely one that sucks you in to the next book, but I think each book has an ending, too. I loved the first two.

    I wonder if other genres are doing this or it’s only paranormal.

    • From what I’ve been hearing, it’s mostly the paranormal stuff. Will check out Hunger Games. I just heard about it today at work!

  5. Winter of Fire (now out of print) was a YA stand alone… but honestly, I’m trying to think back to all the YA books I’ve read/own (and trust me, it’s quite a few) and all of them are at least 3 or more…

    Yup… all of them…

    • I’m beginning to get the feeling that YA really means “You’re Addicted.” To series novels. Thanks for your input, though!

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