YA Cliffhanger Trend: Friend or Foe?

So I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately. (Hello, my name is Brigid, and I’m a bookaholic.)

I’ve been reading so much YA that I’m waiting for my husband to bring the hammer down and tell me to stop buying books on the Kindle. (I’m sure he regrets the day he bought me that thing. You mean I don’t need to leave the couch to buy a book instantly?)

But there’s a clear trend in YA for ending on a cliffhanger. Not just a cliffhanger, almost to the point where the entire first book is almost completely setup, and when you finally get to the climax, the book ends right there. You have to wait for part two.

Elemental is the first book in a series, and while there are open threads at the end, the story arc of book one is complete. The second book (tentatively titled Incendiary) follows the path of a different brother, and it, too, will have a complete story arc with open threads.

I’m not sure I’m a fan of this latest trend. When the first story arc is wholly complete but there’s a driving need for a second book, I love it. (Like The Hunger Games or Hex Hall, both of which I enjoyed greatly.) When the book obviously can’t stand alone, I hate it.

What about you guys? Do you like this new trend? Do you hate it? If you’re a writer, do you feel the need to end on a cliffhanger just to keep your readers reading?

I put a poll in the sidebar if that’s easier than commenting: ——>

2 thoughts on “YA Cliffhanger Trend: Friend or Foe?

  1. I hate the trend. I feel cheated. It’s like those serial stories in magazines from years and years ago, only now we have to buy the book rather than just wait for the next issue. I’ve read a few cliffhanger-ending YA books over the past year or so, and I refuse to buy the second book because I felt ripped off by the first. Since you didn’t name names, I will: Fallen. I liked the stories and characters quite a bit, but then it ends with zero resolution.

    Now, if the point is to leave the story unresolved, well, that’s nothing new in literature, really. If the point is to make the reader think about the story after the author finishes her version of it, and then we get to parse out for ourselves how it should conclude, I’m okay with that.

    Otherwise, it’s bait and switch: “Here’s a good story. I promise. (350 pages later…) Surprise! The weed-whacker is sold out but we do have this lawnmower here that might just do the trick!”

  2. I did a mini-rant about this Saturday with a book review of Ruby Red.
    Here, go check it out:

    And I can tell you that my students feel cheated with books like this. They want an ending where at least the conflict of that book is solved. Sure, we don’t kill off Voldemort until 7 books of Harry Potter, but Harry ends minor conflicts book-book so we feel satisfied.
    Books that have no ending so you want the next one are not literature in my mind; they are marketing gimmicks.

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