Not Cool, Maggie…

Amazing book, disappointing ending

Amazing book, disappointing ending

Speechless, I am utterly speechless. After a week of living on my nerves, pouring adrenalin into my reading of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, of dealing with the dreams and the nightmares and stealing moments to read when I should be parenting or sleeping, I snuck upstairs to read the last chapter this afternoon and WTF?

I have no words.

The damn book just stops. It’s like there are four chapters missing. No explanation, no nothing. Even the tagline “If you kiss your true love, he will die” isn’t remotely or vaguely explained. What a crock of poo.

I’ve never been so distressed at the end of the book. It took me so long to get into the story, to get around the complicated viewpoints, the multiple lead protagonists, the magic and the history and the different cultures. The writing is deep and opaque and quotable and the characters so real I feel like they’re following me around. I couldn’t guess the ending and that excited me. I didn’t know how it was going to resolve itself, how the tagline would be answered, but I knew it would be good.

And then it just ended. Nothing. The last time I felt remotely this bad was at the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go, although at least there was some resolution before it went straight into the next drama. At least I knew there was a sequel, when I read Patrick Ness’s book. With The Raven Boys there is nothing on my copy to indicate that it is part of a series, so my expectation was for a resolution.

The sequel

The sequel

As my ire cools, I have managed to discover that there is a sequel. The Dream Thieves was thankfully released in September last year, so I can try and get hold of a copy this week. Except I probably won’t. Because, here’s the thing, if the first book in a series doesn’t have some sort of cathartic resolution, I don’t have the energy to read the sequel straightaway.

I will probably never read The Ask and the Answer – the sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go. I was too exhausted from the first book to read the second one immediately, and knowing that the story follows on continuously I would have to re-read the first book before reading the second to remind myself of the story. And I don’t have the energy to do that.

It may be the same with The Raven Boys. Except I liked Blue and Adam and Gansey, Ronan and Noah far too much to abandon them. I’m not even bothered about resolving the tagline anymore, I just want to hang out with them some more. Only the next book is about my least favourite character, Ronan, and as a result I’m not drawn in as I would have been if it had been someone else.

So, Maggie, you might be forgiven, because your writing is just awesome. I feel like I can learn so much from you about characterisation, setting, story, plot, mood and use of language. But maybe not how to write a satisfying ending.

Because ending a story without resolving the tagline? Not cool.

20 thoughts on “Not Cool, Maggie…

  1. Not this particular author, but another, did exactly the same thing. No clue that it was going to be part of a series, and a hanging stop. I can’t even say ending… it didn’t!
    I was so annoyed that I have NEVER read another book by that author – and never will.

  2. I have not heard of this author but I can relate to exactly what you mean. Obviously as an author, it is good to get readers passionate and that is what we want to achieve, but there is nothing more frustrating than putting your heart and soul and your life on hold for a book…. and then getting – nothing! I read a book recently which was absolutely brilliant.. until the middle and then my favourite character got killed off, just like that! The heroine ended up with the male drip and so I have never read another of that particular author’s books, which is such a shame.

  3. Lorks! I’m petrified now. All my books end on cliff hangers, except for the last one, but I hope I have tied up the relevant plot points for each stage of the book. Because like you, I really loathe being left hanging. It’s one of the reasons I gave up reading John Grisham books, the endings are always like… gah… one thread tied up and about fifteen million unanswered questions.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • I think it also depends on the genre. The two I mentioned in the post have elements of romance that isn’t fulfilled. I don’t need a happily ever after but a mild hiatus would be nice!
      I think the Harry Potter novels are a good example (although of course the end of term helps bring each story to a close) – they don’t defeat Voldemort until the end, but they defeat *somebody* in each book.
      Of course I’m probably a minority. The Raven Boys has 32,000 ratings on Goodreads with a 4-star average, so I wouldn”t stress. Plenty of people loved it!

  4. Oooh, you have really struck a nerve with me on this one!
    I didn’t even consider reading Hunger Games until all three books were finished, and these kind of endings are the reason I avoid reading series and write stand-alones. To me, if the writer has a longer story to tell, why not just write the whole darn thing in one big book?! Every time this happens to me with a book I feel as if I’ve been played, and most often won’t go back for more–it destroys my trust in the writer’s ability to wrap up the story properly at all.
    Don’t get me wrong, if the series wraps each story up (a protagonist’s arc closes) and leaves only a few loose ends, I’m good to go, but if the whole thing is left open, I’m gone.
    So thanks for ranting on this! You made my day.
    (Too bad, because I was looking forward to reading the Raven Boys someday.)

    • I wouldn’t let it put you off the Raven Boys, just maybe wait until they’re all out (I think there will be four as it’s called the Raven Boy Quartet on the recent release)
      I wasn’t too bad with the first Hunger Games because to me it reads like a standalone book that got made into a series when it was so successful. But yes book two and three had to be read together.
      I like a series normally – all my favourite fantasy books are parts of series (David Eddings, J K Rowling, Stephen Donaldson) but mostly each book ends with some kind of resolution of *that* storyline. The cliffhanger ones do nothing for me. But the 32,000 reviews with an average 4 stars on Goodreads for The Raven Boys suggests I’m in the minority! 🙂

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