cliffhangers: the bad breakup of books


Cliffhangers: the bane of a reader’s existence and the toy writers seem to play with far too often. It happens to the best of us. We’re reading the first book in a series, there’s still some pages left in the book that we don’t realize are actually backmatter and not story, and then BAM! The story ends. No more narrative. Just a word from the author, not in the form of an apology for the abrupt ending, and maybe a teaser from the next book–if we’re lucky and that book has been written.

Cliffhangers are supposed to be a great way to propel readers to buy the next book, but how often does it end with readers propelling the book across the room instead? What is it that makes cliffhangers so bad and so upsetting for readers?

I tend to read series after their completion, so I’ve never had a cliffhanger experience stick out in my head since I generally move right on to the next book. But I’d imagine it’s a lot like a bad breakup. You invest all this time with the book. Snuggle with it at night. Hold it close, and wait with nervous anticipation until you can dive into its pages once more. And then, when you’re least expecting it, it ends. No warning. Maybe you weren’t paying attention to your Kindle warning you that you were at 98%. Maybe you hardly noticed the lack of pages remaining as you held it in your hands. Either way, it comes out of nowhere for you.

The book dumped you.

So how do you react from a bad breakup with a book? Do you take the high road and give them another chance in the next book? Or do you say “So long, jerkface!” while stalking them on social media and telling all your friends how terrible it was to be with that book for so long?