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I Don't Like Series Finales

There's something that I've been thinking about for a while, probably since I read WINTER, the last book in the Lunar Chronicles, almost two years ago. (Or, more accurately, the last novel - there have been a few add-ons since then.) I love the whole series, and I gave all of them five stars, but there was something about that last book that just didn't quite live up to the other three for me.

After that, I started thinking about it more generally. In so many cases, no matter how much I like it, the last book in a series is my least favorite. The Firebird trilogy. The Infernal Devices. The Hunger Games. The Wrath & the Dawn. Wolf by Wolf. Graceling. For some reason, it just doesn't measure up to the rest.

But why? Are series finales really so consistently different from the other books in a series? I think they might be, simply because they have to wrap everything up. In so many cases, this makes the book pretty different than its predecessors. Sometimes, your favorite parts of the previous book(s) just don't fit into what's needed for a finale.

Or maybe it's the pacing. In pretty much any plot - standalone or series - wrapping things up can take a while. The more there is, the longer it will take, and the more important the balance between keeping things exciting and not rushing through them is. There are certainly series that do this well. However, I can think of others where the end seemed to take place with 70 pages to go, or, on the other side of things, I was left thinking: that's it?

On the other hand, maybe my expectations are just too high. Maybe the momentum of an amazing series just tends to set me up for a bit of disappointment. Maybe that necessary change in series finales that I seem to see just happens to be to a kind of book that I don't like quite as much.

Of course, as with anything, there are exceptions. Sometimes it's another book in the series that lets me down. Harry Potter. The Darkest Minds. The Grisha trilogy. But these exceptions are outnumbered, and the only series finale I can think of that I liked the best is WHERE SHE WENT from the If I Stay duology (unpopular opinion, I know). So maybe this opinion isn't super consistent, but it's most definitely a trend, and it's one that I'm really not too happy about finding in my reading. I guess I'll just keep a hopeful eye out for these exceptions.

What do you think of series finales? What are your favorites and least favorites? Do they tend to be your favorite books in a series, your least favorites, or somewhere in between? Is there another book in the series sequence that tends to let you down? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

  1. I'm usually fairly satisfied with series' finales! The endings for Harry Potter and the Grisha Trilogy are some of my favourite. I enjoyed Winter, but I felt like it could have been made into two books. I too always have high expectations for series finales, since I've invested time and energy into multiple books so I'm expecting it to pay off in the end. Interesting post, Clara! :D

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    1. The last Harry Potter book is definitely one of my favorite series finales! I'd never really thought of splitting Winter into two books - it was fast-paced enough that I didn't really notice how much longer it was than the other books - but it's an interesting idea. I wonder whether that would've changed my opinion about it!

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  2. I think I always struggle with series finales because I build up my own expectations but at the same time they can be so satisfying. I don't often feel disappointed by them (there are exceptions, of course and there are some series which start on a high with the first book but then fail with the sequels.

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    1. I think series finales always get the worst of the too-high expectations! Sometimes they live up to it, but it's always a shame when they don't.

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  3. Oh my gosh, YES. And now I shudder thinking - what about Obsidio? What do you think it will be like? Cause both the books were so good, so now I'm just apprehensive :D
    But for me, the problem often extends to the second book as well! Like, it starts getting derailed from there. I am talking Blood Red Road here. My biggest disappointment through gritted teeth. Perfect first book, and let's leave it at that D:
    Do you think it has something to with the fact that we just.. don't want the experience to end? Like maybe we're sort of... mourning the goodbye, and that gives us a bad emotion for the last book? XD

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