In which I rant about endings
Because I am ranting about endings, I DO giveaway the endings to The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause, Insatiable by Meg Cabot and The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong, in that order. I also mention Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. I tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but it’s really hard not to have any spoilers since I’m specifically talking about the endings. So if you haven’t already read these books and want to, then read this rant at your own risk.
The end. Two simple words to mark the ending of a book. But what about the real ending – the last several pages of the book leading up to that simple sentence? After that last epic battle scene that leaves the villain either dead or scurrying for cover like a cockroach, the author has to wrap up the story – explaining what needs to be explained and leaving the characters at a point where the readers can accept that that is the end of the story (even though the characters still have the rest of their lives to live).
So my question is: is there such a thing as a perfect ending? My personal preference is the Happily Ever After ending. The one where the good guy defeats the bad guy and goes on to live happily ever after with the love of his or her life. Yeah, it rarely happens in reality but that’s why I like reading about it so much. Not every book I read does have a happily ever after. In fact, the ending of one of the first vampire books I read was quite unhappy.
In the ending of The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause, there were some elements of the happily ever after because Simon did defeat his evil brother and Zoe did learn to love life again, but I was left crying because Simon was not supposed to die! Even though he hated being a vampire and wanted nothing more than to die, I still wanted him to learn to love life again, with Zoe. (I guess this is where the appeal of fanfiction lays.)
But when my tears dried up, I realized that Klause could not have ended the book any other way because had Simon continued to live, he would have been absolutely miserable. The only reason he stayed alive for 300 years was to avenge his mother’s death. There are other things to live for, and there are other stories where men who live purely for revenge do end up learning to love life again. However, in Simon’s case, being a vampire was worse than being dead and he wouldn’t have been able to live with himself.
It’s almost the same for Meg Cabot’s Insatiable. The bad guys were defeated and though Meena and Lucien were left standing, they didn’t end up together. Gah! They were perfect for each other, and Lucien totally deserved his happily ever after (one that he’d been denied for several hundred years, I might add). But Meena who had only just come to terms with the fact that vampires actually exist, needed some time to grow and adjust. Otherwise she might have gone crazy over the fact that not only were vampires real but that she was dating their Prince. (I really do need to add that I’m so glad that the sequel, Overbite, came out yesterday, July 5th, and now I can read all about Meena and Lucien getting their happily ever after. If they don’t…I don’t know what I’ll do but I certainly won’t be happy.)
On the flip side of that, not every happily ever after is perfect. Kelley Armstrong gypped her readers with the ending of her phenomenal trilogy Darkest Powers in The Reckoning. Yes the bad guys were defeated (for the moment) and Chloe and Derek finally got together at the very end, but so much was left unanswered. Like what about Chloe’s pendent and why it kept changing colors. Not only that but there is still so much more to their adventure because it’s not even close to being done. Not at all. (And obviously I want a million more books about Chloe and Derek. Yes, a million.)
Granted, The Reckoning isn’t the last book in the series. The Gathering is technically book 4, although since it’s from Maya’s point of view, and she’s a completely new character, it’s also technically book 1 of the Darkness Rising trilogy. (Confusing much?) The good news (albeit slightly old news) is that Kelley Armstrong has been contracted for another trilogy after Darkness Rising. However, as far as I know (and I could be completely wrong because I have heard rumors that it is going to be from Maya’s point of view) it’s still up in the air as to whether the third trilogy is going to be about Chloe or Maya. While I do love Maya, and most people who have read both stories agree, she just isn’t Chloe (and Rafe isn’t Derek) as I said in my review of The Gathering. I don’t care how many rumors I hear that it’s going to be about Maya, I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that it’ll be from Chloe’s POV until I hear the verdict from Kelley Armstrong herself (or her blog).
Of course, there are always those endings that are excessively happy and sweet and kind of make you feel like you’re drinking maple syrup out of the jar. A ton of romance novels have that ending because the hero/heroine are so in love with each other that they have to get married immediately, and the author wants to show the wedding. I’m not saying having weddings at the end of the book is bad, but when it starts to drag out for over a chapter (sometimes two or three) that’s when it becomes too excessively sweet and needs to end.
A lots of readers felt that Karen Marie Moning ended her Fever series that excessively sweet way in Shadowfever but I disagree. For all the crap that Mac suffered through during the entire series I think she completely deserved that very happy ending with Barrons. She deserved that and so much more, but I will rant about Mac at a different time. Ditto for Clary and Jace in the end of City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. When authors put their characters through hell, how can they not give them a happily ever after? What’s the point of going through all that bad if there’s no good at the end? The good and bad need to balance each other out.
To answer my own question, no, there is no perfect ending. Sometimes the main character does have to die in order for the book to get its proper ending, despite what the readers want to believe. Or sometimes the hero/heroine can’t get together just yet because they need time to grow. Happily Ever Afters can be over worked and sometimes they can be under-appreciated. Any way you look at it, not every reader is going to be satisfied with the ending of a book.