Day of Debate: Cliffhanger Endings

Day of Debate

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.

Design A

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.

**awkward silence**

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.


Jasmine: …

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.


Design A

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!



16 thoughts on “Day of Debate: Cliffhanger Endings

    • Haha thank you so much! Oh yes, now that you mentioned it, that’s a strategy I like to employ– I allow myself some cliffhanger suspense when I can actually get to satisfy them a few hours later 😀 Like I said though, never have I ever come across a pleasing book that ultimately ends (or rather, non-ends). And thanks again for stopping by! 🙂

  1. You guys crack me up!!! Seriously!!! I laughed out loud like eight times!! I am now a fan of this feature of yours!! God, I wish my sister was this amusing to talk to, or that she actually loved books as much as I do.

    Anyway, relating to the topic, I’m always quite torn up about cliffhanger endings. Especially when I’ve followed a whole freaking series just to get that non-conclusion? Hella irritating! But I also love it because I admire the author for being unconventional, and that they’re letting their readers choose their own endings.

    I once read a post written by Cassie Clare on her tumblr that readers only really need is emotional closure. As long as there is emotional closure, it’s easier to accept the ending. I think she’s right. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Hazel! I’m so glad my brother and I can get to entertain people other than… well, our lonely selves. HA! And I’ll make sure to post some more of these since you like them! 😀 Hmm, maybe your sister just needs a little more prodding? I wish I had a sister! :O And while my bro likes books the same way I do, it’s really weird that we rarely agree. Henceforth, the birth of this feature. Haha! I totally understand how authors can be admirable if they get to pull off a cliffhanger (Before Ever After was the bomb diggity). It’s unfortunate though, that I rarely get to read any of those 😦 I usually just get really bothered, sometimes even acquire temporary insomnia. Eep! And yes, I agree– if I think about it, emotional closure is what matters to me the most in the endings. As long as the characters are sure of their feelings and are moving towards a goal, I’ll get it. Cassie Clare’s just amazing, isn’t she? 🙂

  2. This. Is. Hilarious.

    Miley Cyrus usually speaks words of wisdom, amirite? 😉 *another awkward silence* But seriously though, I don’t think I hate cliffhangers. They encourage me to read the next book, because if I’m honest, sometimes I need that encouragement. I suck at completing series!

    Anyway, so cliffhangers.. I like when the MAIN issue of the book is solved, but there is still loose ends, you know? Like if I don’t feel there is any sort of closure, I might be pissed.

    • Thanks Reem! I dunno, never tried to listen to anything Miley says, really. Whoops XD Yep, I don’t have them either, especially not in series! 🙂 They’re horrible though at the very end, since the book becomes very open ended, and that bothers me lots. CLOSURE! Yes, I need closure 😀

  3. I think it depends on the function of the cliffhanger. In a series, a cliffhanger ensures the story can (and will) continue on over the next books(s). If everything wrapped up nicely in book one, no one would be compelled to read book two unless they really liked the characters or something. However, even these types of cliffhangers bug me because I feel like the author is merely capitalizing on my emotions and my desire to IMMEDIATELY know what happens next and that sometimes the story even suffers so it CAN be stretched out over multiple books. In a standalone, I definitely do not like a cliffhanger – too unresolved – but paradoxically, I don’t like a neat and tidy ending where everything is all spelled out either. I like the author to leave enough clues that I know where it’s going, but I still get to figure it out for myself. I don’t mind working a little bit for a good read. The best ones always make me work.

  4. I agree with you – cliffhangers and open ending never do it for me. I’m the kind of person who wants every little thing to be resolved. Of course, it’s nice to imagine your own endings sometimes, but if I started reading an author’s story, I’d expect them to finish it, you know?

    On the other hand, though, there are times when a book just doesn’t end the way I hoped/thought it would and it bums me out because the authors springs something at me and instead of being pleasantly surprised, I get homicidal. So, I guess in some cases cliffhangers/open endings can do the job.

    Well… that means I’m fickle, obviously : D And a hypocrite…. but that’s the way I see it. If I don’t like the ending a certain book has, I ignore it.

    • Hahaha! Well of course the book just HAS to end the way you want it to! 😀 I think I’m being fickle (and you’re not) when I start disliking a book because of a ending that doesn’t suit my fancies, when the rest of content is obviously a winner. That’s why I really believe that the ending is crucial. I don’t necessarily want every little thing resolved, although that is prime, so I’m glad to know that I’m not so different from others after all! Like you, it really depends on what’s going on in the characters’ lives, and if I like what those goings-on are. HAHA! Quite the demanding reader I am XD

  5. I’m anti-cliffhangers, whether it’s a standalone, series, finale, etc. For me, I want the story to be presented to me wrapped in a tiny bow complete and perfect. Otherwise it’d be like receiving a painting with a big glaring white spot where the artist decided to not paint so our imagination could fill it in. No. I’m here to be entertained! I don’t want to have to think about it!

    Really though, I think the only time it REALLY bugs me is for series (which is funny because you don’t seem to mind them then). I always feel like series are written with the entire series in mind, which makes it impossible to just read one book and stop. And I get that that’s the whole point, but I rather get some sort of closure with each book. I’d rather it be like Harry Potter. The overall arching goal through the whole series isn’t reached until the last book, but each book still had it’s own adventures and sense of closure where you could almost just read them as standalones. Yes please.

    • Haha! Well that was an interesting metaphor XD I like books that make me think, but not in such a way that I’d have to be the one to provide the information. If so, then oh noes 😦 I’m actually quite enlightened with regards to your trail of thought, because really, I’ve never thought about treating a series book like a stand alone– come to think about it, it does feel right to not at least have some form of closure for every book, especially with series you don’t plan on keeping up with, so that at least there’s no guilt if you don’t get to read the next ones. Haha! Although of course, it will never be as interesting to read onto the next book if they’ve given you complete closure (which is the way I DON’T like it when it comes to series I adore). And Harry Potter endings were probably the most satisfying ones I’ve come across, ever :O I think I’d like to read J.K’s Robert Galbraith book to see if the magic to her writing’s still there. And thanks for sharing your thoughts Asti! 🙂

  6. ROFL! you guys totally crack me up! If there is a cliffhanger, I need to have the next book in the series already on my kindle, so I can just start reading it straight away. I hate having to wait for a year to know what happens, and that’s typically something that might make me not continue reading the series…
    Have a great weekend Jas and Juan 🙂

    • Thanks so much Lexxie! Glad we can make you laugh– my bro and I try 🙂 Yes, me too– if I have to wait a year or so for the next book, I usually get really bothered, especially when they announce a delay in release a month or less before its supposed to be stacking the shelves *sigh* as long as the series is real good though, I usually stick around! 😀 And thanks, have a great weekend too 😀

Write me a little something. I reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s