Thursday, May 27, 2010

How it all ENDS

Authors have the opportunity to take us on breathtaking, extraordinary adventures: adventures to faraway and exotic lands, or perhaps adventures to a familiar location, like high school or the big city. When a single story is told over the course of a series, it can be especially hard to let the characters go, and we as readers come to seek not only closure, but the best possible ending to whatever dilemma the characters faced.
I personally seek out the "happily ever after" in stories and I dare to hope that it will be within reach for characters I have come to know and love. I look for a believable-but-creative solution to story conflicts, and I am particularly partial to battle scenes, the more epic the better!

So in yet another really random post, I want to take a look at my personal favorite (and least favorite) book/series finales.
Note: these categories, and my commentary, reflect my personal opinions. It is not my purpose to divulge information about the plot, and so hopefully there won't be any "spoiler" issues :)

Disappointing Endings

Sorry, Incarceron lovers, but this highly-anticipated sequel had a very funky, disjointed ending. Incarceron and Sapphique are both stories of epic proportions, and so the final resolution was a major letdown, in addition to being unrealistic for the problem at hand. The more screwed up and dysfunctional a society is, the greater the resolution has to be, and it seems as though Fisher cops for an easy fix ending. Also, characterization was never her strong suit, and so all throughout the book characters do things that are completely detached/unrealistic/emotionless.

I don't really remember much of the specifics to the book story (because I read it a long time ago and because I mostly think of the AWESOME musical version, which has an amazing ending) but it just seemed really 'bummer.' Wicked read like an Oz-retelling soap opera, and while I admit that I was way too young to read this when I did, the ending just made me depressed. I pronounce this book ending Depressing! But that's not so bad, because Wicked the Musical pretty much took the "bummer" out of the book and presented a much more uplifting ending. Yay, Broadway!

Maybe it's not fair of me to put this book on here, because truth be told, I hated everything about this book, and I am not exaggerating. The whole "conflict" in the first place was just unbelievable to me (we have to save everybody from the Winter Queen, because she's evil and wants to kill all the humans and the summer faeries!) The summer faeries and their king, Keenan (whose licentiousness would have the Earl of Wilmot blushing) induced no sympathy from me, and Wicked Lovely remains one of the few books where I actually rooted for the villain. Anyway, the "compromise" or whatever was just so stupid and "out there" that I just have to put it in the Disappointing Endings section. Now, WL is the first in a series, and the purpose of this list is really to asses the ending of a series, but there is absolutely no way I'd read any more of Marr's books. Just thinking about her books makes me want to sanitize my hands.

Wow I'm a roll, because I'm attacking two fan-favorite books with this list. Here's another "first book" that makes my Disappointing Endings section. Now I actually liked this book (for what it is) but the last 1/3 of this book went from Hush Hush to Rush Rush. The plot accelerated at a crazy-fast pace and the ending sequences just seemed sloppy. And the whole "I'm going to be your guardian angel, heeheehoohoo!" was a little on the stupid, sappy side. But I am eager to see what will happen next when Crescendo hits shelves.

So-So Endings (the "meh, whatever!" reading experiences)

Okay, it's really easy to turn anything Twilight geared into a long, rambling post, so all I will say is that I concur with the vast amount of reviewers who were sorely underwhelmed by the battle-that-never-happened. Like I said, I love epic battle scenes and so I was kind of disappointed when the Volturi just sauntered off and left everybody sighing with relief. However, the love that began in Twilight was realized and fulfilled by the end of Breaking Dawn, and that counted a lot for me. I applaud Stephenie for having her characters get their happy ending. I found it rewarding and not in the least bit sappy that Edward and Bella ended up married and getting their HEA. I just would have liked a little more action.

This series (the Great Tree of Avalon) is one of my favorites, and it is highly recommended! The reason The Eternal Flame is in this category is because the series resolution was great, but too prematurely put to rest. As in, I turned the page, and there was nothing left to read. So while I liked the ending (there was a great battle scene, the evil forces were expelled, and a really interesting "twist" was put before the characters) it ended a little too abruptly. Ohh, if Barron had only written like two or three pages more!

City of Glass was a riveting, action-packed story (for the most part) but the ending was a little too easily accomplished. Cassandra Clare had some awesome fight scenes and pretty scary/gory imagery to keep readers on the edge of their seat. With all the tension and conflict in Glass, the ending seemed a little too picture-perfect. Like, in no time at all after this major battle, everyone's celebrating. I don't really know what to say, except that the ending almost seemed flippant in light of all the intensity that had previously taken place.

And now...the BEST ENDINGS EVER!
All of the books I've chosen to put on this list can be described in one general word: EPIC. They all have epic battle scenes, they all have one-on-one confrontations between good and evil, they all have successful love stories, and they all have fulfilled, happy endings. Not just the "and then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever!" endings, but truly beautiful, tear-jerker, genuinely-rewarding endings. All of these books made me cry, and all of these series are my absolute favorites. It's probably no surprise that Return of the King is on the list--Lord of the Rings is (in my opinion) the greatest, most epic fantasy series of all time, and Tolkien knew exactly how to end his incredible story. All his battle scenes were magnificently described, the final confrontation on Mount Doom with Frodo and Gollum, and the business with the elves---all hauntingly beautiful and satisfying. Tolkien is the master!

Special mention to Deathly Hallows for providing probably the greatest "recent" series ending.
I am very much a fan of Rowling's awesome Epilogue, and wished that every author provided closure of this kind. Not only do readers take a journey with Harry Potter, they watch him grow up and mature, and so it's so delightful for authors to give readers assurance that he's alright after all. Bravo!

And The High King is tied with Deathly Hallows for all-time favorite ending, just because of the lyrical, almost haunting final words that author Alexander gives to readers before they say goodbye to the characters. No, there's no epilogue, nor is there closure on a Harry Potter scale, but these words (in my opinion) have never been topped:
(Not a spoiler)
Yet long afterward, when all had passed away into distant memory, there were many who wondered whether...Taran...Eilonwy, and their companions had indeed walked the earth, or whether they had neen no more than dreams in a tale set down to beguile children. And, in time, only the bards knew the truth of it.

I don't know, but that just gives me the good shivers every time. So anyway, that's my list! What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What books would you put on your list of Favorite Endings?

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