It seems like the more and more I read the Young Adult genre, the more often I come across AED. No, not automatic external defibrillator – which I happen to be certified in – but what I like to call “Abrupt Ending Disorder.” For some reason, so many authors seem to get a kick out of leaving us hanging or wondering what happened after the story. I get that this might be an attempt to get us to think about the book after we finish turning the final few pages, and while I can have a healthy respect for that, I think that there’s an uncanny amount of YA books out there that just feel like the last few chapters were left out when it went to the publisher.
Now, I can forgive – at least to some degree – cliffhangers, as long as they aren’t the final book in a series. But if your novel is standalone or the final in a series, there BETTER be some sort of resolution. More often than not, instead of coming across as artsy, all “look, I’m going to leave it here so you can interpret the ending,” you’re just going to piss your audience off. We want to know what happened to that star-struck romance – did they live happily ever after? We want to know whether or not that war-torn country rebuilt themselves after that major, tide-turning battle. But no, we’re left with the author just going, “Eh, I’m just going to finish this up in the next few pages. To hell with resolution.”
And, yes, I realize that I might sound a little irritated. That’s because I am. I’m tired of reading a 330+ page book, only to be left with literary equivalent of the middle finger. And who, you might ask, am I thinking of while I write this? Basically Lauren Oliver and Rainbow Rowell.
To be fair, all of Lauren Oliver’s book didn’t end so abruptly. I’m a huge fan of her Delirium trilogy; it remains today as one of my all-time favorite dystopians – and with the amount of dystopians that have flooded the market the past few years, that’s saying something. But you can’t spend years building up to a final installment of a series, only to give the readers some half-thrown together excuse for an ending. I was soooo upset with how Requiem ended. So many unanswered questions! Did Lena patch things up with her significant other? Did the final battle against the government succeed? These are major questions the audience wants to know! But will we ever get the answer? Likely not. Thanks a lot, Lauren. Way to ruin an awesomely epic series with a lame-ass ending.
Want to know what’s even worse than that? Reading a 330+ page novel full of only romance, then getting no resolution. Ugh! I love Rainbow Rowell, don’t get me wrong, both Eleanor and Park and Fangirl were very cute reads, and I enjoyed the characters. But… You just can’t write a whole book building up a romance, then not give us a definitive answer on what happens! All we know at the end of Eleanor and Park is that Park gets a card from her- that consists of three words – and WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THOSE WORDS ARE! Really, Rainbow? Really? I felt so cheated by the end of the book. Fangirl was a little better. I was satisfied with the romance aspect, but just as soon as the characters get together, BAM – end of story. We get no, after-hook-up fluffiness. I just left me feeling a little… empty inside, I guess. The sad part is, both Rainbow’s YA books would’ve been five star reads from me, had she wrapped the stories up a little neater.
What about you? Do you agree with my little rant? Have you come across any other authors that suffer from “AED?” Feel free to let me know what you think – or which books to avoid reading that fall into this particular scheme.