This week’s theme is Favourite Finales in series or stand-alones. To make things a bit harder (or easier depending on your perspective) for me, I decided to do it for series only even though most series I’ve picked up are still being published (this is what I get for reading fantasy books that have 2+ years interregnum between volumes). The ones I’ve included are for series I finished and loved – mostly for masochistic reasons.
Make sure to tell me what you think and what your favourite series finales are in the comments!
The End, Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events #13)
This is probably the most different series finale book in this short list. Lemony Snicket is well known for writing the harsh truths in beautiful quotes, but there is much more to this series than that.
Middle Grade or not, A Series of Unfortunate Events touched plenty of adult topics without veering from the age group it was written for. More than that, it is unbelievingly human and realistic. Sure, plenty of characters are parodies of grown-up tendencies like thinking a sentence’s grammar is more important than its content, being all for what’s fashionable, believing children are brainless, and so on. But each parody strikes at important truths, and in doing so, A Series of Unfortunate Events is set apart from everything else I’ve ever read.
The finale is no different. In most books, the series’ villain is just that, a villain, someone to be defeated, and the finale is the place to do so and get rid of most or all loose ends. But slowly, through thirteen books, Snicket shows us that things aren’t black and white. In reality, it’s impossible to get rid of all loose ends, and villains… well, they may be no different from the rest of us. Not really.
So perhaps this finale is a bit frustrating for those who are used to reading neatly explained ends – I knew I was a little bit miffed for a while, but then it dawned on me how truthful it was. Snicket never promised a story with a resolution. In every book he wrote that if we wanted a happy story, we should look elsewhere. He wasn’t lying. And that’s the beauty of it.
“Nowhere in the world is safe,” Count Olaf said.
“Not with you around,” Violet agreed.
“I’m no worse than anyone else,” Count Olaf said.
The Last Guardian, Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl #8)
I only recently read (well, I say read but I actually listened to the audiobooks) the Artemis Fowl books and I found them to be devilishly, wittily brilliant. I’d be moving DNA from one tube to the other, sitting in a bench next to PhD students, giggling as Artemis and the gang did or said something silly.
Indeed, this series provided me with so many laughs in the midst of growing amounts of drama, that I never expected the series to end the way it did. Especially when, somewhere around the middle, Colfer lost quite a bit of steam.
The Last Guardian was painful, and right. I can’t imagine a better goodbye to Artemis. It’s a perfect conclusion to these characters’ stories, and a perfect new beginning. I wish I could say more about it, as the last, heart-wrenching chapters were some of my favourites in the entire series, but alas, some of you might not have read it yet. Know only that it made me hold onto my stomach and shake my head until I was dizzy as slivers of hope were stripped away from me with each paragraph.
It bloody hurt, but there was no better way to close these character arcs. I only wish we knew what happened after. But alas, that’s the issue with books ending.
“I want you to know, my dear friend, that without you, I would not be the person I am today.” He leaned in close and whispered, “I was a broken boy, and you fixed me. Thank you.”
The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5)
Let’s face it, Riordan had to be here. Every single one of the finales of his book series are gold. I could easily have chosen The Serpent’s Shadow, the third book of The Kane Chronicles (for those of you who don’t know, here Riordan beautifully tackles the Egyptian demigods), or even The Blood of Olympus, the fifth book of The Heroes of Olympus (Greek and Roman demigods ahoy!). Why did I pick this one then? Because 1) I’m a sucker for Percy and the gang, and 2) I haven’t finished BoO yet – though I’d probably still pick The Last Olympian for the sole reason of Percy. Yup, I do love our blue food addict demigod. But can you blame me?
Anyway, the brilliance of Riordan’s books, the reason why his finales are perfect is simple: he does not forget to make us laugh while keeping the characters dangling at a precipice. He doesn’t dismiss the hard subjects, quite on the contrary. He shows us that whatever we’re dealing with isn’t the end of the world. Unless, of course it actually is the end of the world, but hey, it’ll be alright. Maybe.
The Last Olympian is rough. More than one character has to make a choice, for many it’ll be their last. But regardless, they showed much of the characters. Not only of their personality, but also of their friendships and goals. It’s no wonder Riordan’s books have become so popular. Right through to the end, even after stabbing you in the heart repeatedly, they lend you a smile, a laugh, and a friendly hand.
“Well . . . sure good to be together again. Arguing. Almost dying. Abject terror. Oh, look. It’s our floor.”
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games #3)
Another painful ending. Can you see the pattern yet? Because I most certainly can see that I am one big masochist.
So, The Hunger Games. The franchise that is taking the world by storm. The trilogy I read in a week full of exams because I couldn’t put it down. And no wonder, Collins sure loves to think of the worst possible thing that could happen to her characters and throw it at them. Mockingjay was no exception. If anything, it was a “let’s hurt everyone in the most horrible ways!” party. A little bit like A Song of Ice and Fire for teens, but without the whole head chopping ordeal.
Now, I know I said that I apparently love the whole “let’s hurt all the characters!” thing, but there is more in Mockingjay that I loved as a finale. If it had already begun to show just how someone could be mentally affected by war in Catching Fire, here it more than continues the tradition. Nobody is left untouched by the horrors of the war, and everyone reacts to it differently. Mockingjay dwells more into the psyche of war survivors than most YA books and it does so beautifully. It’s not afraid of showing the horrors that live in people’s minds or the way it becomes twisted beyond belief.
Mockingjay provides the ending that many war books (such as Deathly Hallows) needed: the grittiness and pain of the aftermath, for society and for each person. After all, not all battles are not fought in the field. The hardest are fought in the mind.
“Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated. But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”
aka The Only Book That I Ever Wanted To Throw At A Wall While Reading, aka The First Book I Ever Cried To, aka The Only Book That Has Left Me So Empty I Could Barely Eat Or Leave The Bed For At Least A Day.
Yes, I have a lot of feelings regarding this book, and not just because I’m a Potterhead through and through. So many in fact, that I kept it for last because, well, this is bound to be the longest comment of the bunch.
Deathly Hallows is, odd as it may be for many, my favourite Potter novel. It is also the one I have read the least. Incongruence perhaps? Not really. It just hurts too much to read it. I’m currently listening to the audiobooks and I am terrified of getting to book 7.
You see, I’m not the sort who can cry easily. In fact, plenty of people stared at me in horror when I told them I never cried when Mufasa died in The Lion King or when Dumbledore died or… well, most things. I cry so little I can probably could on my fingers the number of times it happened and tell you whether it was a tear at the corner of my eye or full sobbing. (That last one would be thrice, by the way: at The Fault in Our Stars (the book), Deathly Hallows (book) and Deathly Hallows Part II (film).) But this one? Boy, does it still sting.
And it’s just not because one of my favourite characters dies in it, or because they all go through so much – though it does help of course. In the end, it’s just that this is the last Potter book. This is where the official story ends. Having grown up with these stories, having always picked up Potter whenever I felt down or when my life would change, the end of Harry’s adventures feel as if they were the end of my own. Silly, I know, but it only goes to show how deeply Potter changed me. I began to write, to learn English, to look at the wrongs in the world, to read fantasy, to trust in myself, and so much more because of Potter. I owe this series more than I could ever say.
So yes, maybe the book has a number of faults that others have pointed out through the years, but it won’t stop me loving it. It never could. I wouldn’t be me if not for Harry.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
How about you? What are your favourite book finales – series or stand-alones? Do you disagree with any of mine? Tell me what you think!