This is a feature my brother came up with— wherein we tackle certain topics on books, young adult or not, and give you guys the low down on our opinions of them (which, mind you, generally differ). I’ll be encoding our conversation, and if you guys have any opinions of your own on the topic, or on the heated discussion, feel free to once again make my day and comment!
My brother is seventeen, a college sophomore, approximately one year and two days older. His name is Juan (that’s pronounced like the number, one), and he’s my best friend. No matter what anyone else says.
Jasmine: Sup, bradda!
Juan: Sup, sis! Peace yo. Fo shizzle.
Jasmine: Well, that was a sorry attempt at swag. Now let’s get down to business!
Juan: Fine! Moving on… For today’s feature, we’re going to be discussing cliffhanger endings in YA novels. SUCH FUN! Yay or Nay?
Jasmine: Nay man, nay!
Juan: That means that I, obviously get to go with yay. Why do I go with yay? I won’t explain. You first.
Jasmine: AHA! YOU YIELD! Do I win?
Juan: NO. Obviously not! Insolence!
Jasmine: Okay, okay, take a chill pill! In the meantime, I’m not going to suppress further information regarding some of the better books I’ve read that didn’t exactly end the way I wanted them to (or didn’t exactly end, period.) but I still do believe that an inconclusive book leaves nary a warm feeling in one’s chest. Sometimes, the whole point of the book is to get to the resolve, isn’t it? And if that resolve doesn’t even come, then none of it should make sense anymore. Tell me it doesn’t just feel like you’re missing something you should have been given in the first place.
Juan: A long time ago, someone told me that it was all about the journey, and not the destination. That someone was Miley Cyrus, singing The Climb.
Juan: JUST KIDDING! Okay, first joke HAHA! Laugh with me.
Jasmine: Your brain is fart.
Juan: …Anywaaaay, I do believe that leaving characters in the middle of that metaphorical journey towards the summit, leaves an impression on the readers, especially characters that are chasing someone or something, whether it be an ideal or a person (or a thing). The reader is left with nothing but the character’s convictions and what he learned from the story. And sometimes, it’s a better way to drive at the themes and morals.
Jasmine: A long time ago, someone told me that it’s not about what you learn, but how you apply it. And that someone was Spongebob.
Juan: FO SHIZZLE!
Juan: Forgive me. Please, carry on.
Jasmine: I was kidding, mom taught me that. In much the same way, most of the application is manifested in the ending, because that’s where you’ll know if the journey to get to that point was even worth it. When mountain climbers hike all the way through to the peak of Mount Everest, they plant their flags before anything else. When readers flip the pages of a book all the way through to the back covers, they expect some form of resolution. Otherwise, it’s so much less than gratifying (Unless I’m an outlandish potato, of course).
Juan: Outlandish potato it is! Doesn’t that depend on the reader? Some of us appreciate the fact that we’re being the given the chance to provide our own ending based on our understanding of the world that the characters live in. Cliffhangers also substantiate the writer’s world building skills and definitive style. If his readers know instinctively that one sort of thing will happen in the end, even if he doesn’t explicitly state it, then you know he’s pretty damn good. Maybe I’m being biased because I love stories that involve characters fighting for an endless dream—am I being selfish? Or is that just me?
Jasmine: Well that was paradoxical. And it’s not that I don’t feel beholden given a chance to provide my own ending to a story—realistically, however, only the author himself holds the official license to the construction of the coup de grace. Otherwise, it just doesn’t feel believable. Metaphorically, it’s something like hoping against hope that your fan fiction miraculously gets carried over to the bona fide rendering, because it’s not, under any other circumstance. I guess people would argue that it’s much better not to know an otherwise horrendous cessation, though I personally feel better as long as I’m given a solid conclusion, because it bothers me to no end whenever I have to think about a resolution I will never get, and an unequivocal truth that will never come to set me free . I wouldn’t even be able to close my freaking eyes at night!
Juan: But you gotta admit, it makes it memorable sometimes. You’d never forget that book that refused to let you get enough sleep.
Jasmine: Is that a good thing when accompanied by an overwhelming vexation?
Juan: Depends on the reader I guess, but I still really think that there are some cliffhangers that I wouldn’t substitute for conclusive endings any day of the week. I would have forgotten the endings if they weren’t.
Jasmine: For the record, I’m not completely against cliffhangers—I think they add to the anxiety for a sequel when it comes to series books, though they’re not acceptable to me in stand-alones, or in finales (unless of course, the author is sensational enough to cajole me into letting bygones be bygones). I really do think I deserve a legitimate ending for keeping up with a certain series, though. I tend to ask for the nearest, well, cliff when I’m not near enough satisfied with an ending as I’m supposed to be.
Juan: Is there even a way to win this argument?
Jasmine: Glad you asked! And no, there isn’t. And because I’m generous and forthright enough to practice my own preachings, I’m going to leave you guys with a conclusion: cliffhanger endings don’t usually sit well with me, due to the fact that they leave me depressed and exasperated, although it still depends on both the author’s style and the reader’s preference. As such, I’d like to know what YOU guys prefer!
Juan: Do I get my own closing speech?
Jasmine: Fo shizzle.
So what do you think? Have any suggestions? Criticisms of the constructive variety? Life changing praise? Comment if you do! 😀
P.S. We’d appreciate suggestions on future topics!