Let's Talk About: Cliffhangers

Warning: Incredibly Long Post

If you stick around all the way to the end, you're awesome.

Cliffhangers seem to be one of those things that people either really like, or really hate. While I myself am in the vast minority and am leaning more towards 'really like' side of the spectrum, there are definitely quite a few cliffhangers that I absolutely loathe, which I will get to in this post. But first, since it seems like this is unpopular opinion time, I'll say why I personally like cliffhangers, if they meet my standard and I think they're done well. 

The whole point of cliffhangers is to evoke some emotion from us readers. Whether those emotions be positive, negative, or a little bit of both, the cliffhanger managed to do what it was intended to do. Of course, others may argue that cliffhangers are there for the sole purpose of getting readers to stick around for the next book, or for the sole purpose of stretching out a particular series by adding another conflict, and I definitely agree with them, but I think those cliffhangers are easy to differentiate from the cliffhangers that have a purpose in the plot, that purpose not being to sucker readers into coming back for more or to stretch out a series into an unnecessary length. I do not like the cliffhangers that are so blatantly there to have readers coming back for more, or to stretch out a series. To me, those cliffhangers feel gimmicky (and they are gimmicky), and make me feel cheated. What I do like are the cliffhangers that have me caring about what will happen next without cheating me; the cliffhangers that make me sit in my seat for who knows how long and just stare blankly at my wall - not the cliffhangers that make me what to throw something at my husband. There is quite a noticeable difference between the two, and that boundary between 'gimmicky' and 'not gimmicky' is key to whether or not a cliffhanger works for me or not. 

"But what are some examples of books that go into the 'gimmicky' category and the 'not gimmicky' category?" You're probably not asking. Why, good question! Here are some examples of some cliffhangers that don't fall in the 'gimmicky' category, in my opinion: 

Whoa, is that... a good cliffhanger?!

As much as I may not like this trilogy (in fact, the second book in this trilogy's cliffhanger absolutely falls into the 'gimmicky' category, but I'll get to that later), I will always love this book's cliffhanger. I thought it was shocking, clever, and it just left me grinning like an idiot. But, more importantly, it had me caring immensely about what would happen to the characters next, which is quite a feat considering I was counting on all of the characters dying throughout the entire novel. Do I care about any of the characters? No, not at all. But I love this cliffhanger. 

I-Heart-You Cliffhanger #2: Mind Games by Kiersten White
Honestly, one of the very few things I actually like about this novel is its ending. It is a cliffhanger in absolutely every sense of the word - but I have to say I loved it. I did not see it coming at all, and while it may have made little-to-no sense, I was left sitting in my chair completely and utterly dumbfounded by what had just happened. That was a very, very ballsy move of you, Kiersten White, but I'm happy to say that it was great. It's just too bad that I thought nothing else in the novel was great.

I-Heart-You Cliffhanger #3: Vortex by Julie Cross
Speaking of ballsy endings, DAMN. I really can't say too much about this cliffhanger because I'm afraid any little thing can be a spoiler but damn. What I love about this cliffhanger was that it managed to be huge (and when I say huge, I mean huge), managed to make me frantic and, similarly to Mind Games, dumbfounded, but it also managed to not feel gimmicky in the least, when it probably would have felt gimmicky if placed in any other author's hands. Bravo, Julie Cross. Seriously, bravo. 

I-Heart-You Cliffhanger #4: Pivot Point by Kasie West
I love everything about this novel, including its quasi-cliffhanger that is shocking and heartbreaking and makes me feel like I've been punched in the gut. I'm not sure whether or not I would classify this one as a cliffhanger, because it does wrap things up remarkably well, but it also does leave us a bit hanging. All I know for certain about this cliffhanger is that I love it. And that Kasie West is an evil genius for writing it. 

I-Heart-You Cliffhanger #5: Once by Anna Carey
I adore this trilogy. I really do. Among the things I adore about this trilogy is the cliffhanger at the end of Once, masochistically so. Once just... ends. In one of the most important scenes in the entire novel. It  definitely left me hanging. It left me looking around, wondering how people can possibly go on with life after that just happened. I can definitely see why friends of mine having negative opinions towards this cliffhanger, but I thought it was brilliant. 

I'm hopelessly indifferent to youuuu...

*gives you time to get that song out of your head (maybe with this? If you've never heard that song before, you're welcome, for that is the best thing in the history of ever.)* Okay, so now that I've gotten some of the cliffhangers I love/really like out of the way, let's get to the ones I'm rather indifferent towards, hence the name of this section:

How-Do-I-Feel-About-You Cliffhanger #1: Everneath by Brodi Ashton
I really, really don't know how I feel about Everneath's cliffhanger, to be honest. I'm sure if I cared more about the characters it would have been devastating for me, but when the end came I was just like, "Oh. So that just happened.", then I promptly started reading my next book. A good cliffhanger that makes me feel feels leaves me sitting in my reading nook for quite a while, and even with bad cliffhangers, I'm mostly too angry to start a new book right away, but with cliffhangers like Everneath's, it's just like, okay... moving on...

How-Do-I-Feel-About-You Cliffhanger #2: Just One Day by Gayle Forman
As a whole I did love Just One Day, but even now, weeks after I've finished it, I'm not sure what to think of the cliffhanger. It's not a devastating cliffhanger, and it's really not anything big. It just... happened, and that was that. In my opinion, there was just really nothing remarkable about the cliffhanger. Everything else in the novel was remarkable, though, just not the end.

How-Do-I-Feel-About-You Cliffhanger #3: Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Once again, I think this cliffhanger would have been more devastating if I actually cared for the characters. Like the other two cliffhangers in this section, this cliffhanger just happened. There was no shock value from me, and no emotional reaction from me whatsoever. It just happened and I was ready to move on to my next read immediately.

Dishonor on you! Dishonor on your cow!

These are the cliffhangers that made me want to throw things. (One of these cliffhangers actually did make me throw things.) *rubs hands together* I do not like these cliffhangers. 

Go-Die-In-A-Hole Cliffhanger #1: So Close to You by Rachel Carter
This book has probably my most loathed cliffhanger of all time. Honestly, I thought the entire novel was pretty bad, but I was prepared to give it two stars until the last sentence. The last sentence made me want to give this book negative stars. I screamed after finishing this book. I threw my Kindle, guys. Onto my bed, mind you, but I was so angry I threw. my. Kindle. I hate this cliffhanger. I want this cliffhanger to die a painful, excruciating death. This cliffhanger is the epitome of gimmicky.

Go-Die-In-A-Hole Cliffhanger #2: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
*sniffs* What's that? I smell a gimmick. You know how earlier in this post I said I loved the first book in this series' cliffhanger? Well I hate this one. It's huge, but it's so obviously a gimmick that every time I think of it it sends me into a mini-rage (but not a full-on rage, like with So Close to You). The first book's cliffhanger had a purpose. It added to the plot. This book's cliffhanger was so obviously in there to extend the series, when everything could have been resolved in this book easily. The first book's cliffhanger had me caring about what would happen next, but I really couldn't care less anymore. 

Go-Die-In-A-Hole Cliffhanger #3: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
*snort* Really? That was the best you could think of? Really?


What some awesome people think:


On Twitter and Goodreads, I asked my friends and followers what their favorite and least favorite cliffhangers in young adult literature are, because I figured it would be fun and interesting to get some other people's perspectives on cliffhangers. Below are the answers I got when I asked the awesome people of Twitter and Goodreads what they think of cliffhangers, and what their favorite and least favorite ones are: 

Skyla said: Every cliffhanger in the Furnace series were awesome. They set you up for the next book perfectly and made you want to read more. I hated the cliffhanger in Wither. It was bland and boring. 

Vanessa at Book-Wyrm Reviews said: My favourite cliffhangers are those in the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. So, SO good, and gets you really pumped and angry, rushing to the library to take out the next in the series. 

Kay at It's A Book Life said: Love: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. I had a feeling it was coming, but I truly enjoyed this reveal/cliffhanger. Hate: Insurgent by Veronica Roth... I NEED to know what happens next! 

YAL Book Briefs said: The cliffhanger in the third Blue Bloods book (Revelations) was pretty interesting. Great set up and lots of ways where the story could've gone. I hated the cliffie in Meg Cabot's Abandon. It was unnecessary and honestly served no purpose other than to break what was an uneventful book from a book it should've been combined with. 

Kara at Great Imaginations said: Lying Season by Karina Halle--I just finished it last night and it was BRUTAL. I loved it and hated it at the same time. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken made me ANGRYYYYY. 

Reynje at Wordchasing said: Ashes by Ilsa J Bick had a really nasty cliffhanger.. It was actually cruel. :) She basically stops right in the middle of a very intense scene. 

Sara said: Froi of the Exiles... I laid in fetal position, trying not to cry, then cried a lot. Loved it and hated it at the same time!  

Katie said: A Million Suns by Beth Revis...it's a perfect cliffhanger because it ties everything but up OMG it's death waiting because you know what's gonna happen. Also Blood Red Road by Moira Young, for mostly the same reasons but you don't know exactly how it'll turn out. Some books require a cliffhanger. For example, The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. Its cliffie is necessary to keep the plot going. It's not a huge cliffie by any means, but for the most part...yeah, it's needed. Same with Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. There was no other way that could have ended, and though it made me SO MAD while reading it, I understand why Collins finished it the way she did. But unnecessary cliffhangers at the end of a bad book? Yeah, they're only there to ensure the reader comes back for book two. So for the most part, I'm against them. 

Amy at Book Loving Mom said: I love them if there is a good reason for them. Like if it's just there to seemingly make you suffer, I don't like them. I like them to make sense at least, not just be like, "Am I missing something?" Delirium and Pandemonium, those are killer cliffhangers, but they are done right and it's a good ending point for the books. 

Lulie at Looking for Seattle said: Hate em (as you may know from my comments on your blog). Generally, I'm not that big of a fan of series, but I read them because it's kind of hard to get away from them. But cliffhangers irk me. I think they are noncommittal and lazy. Sometimes they work, like in Clare's books - she actually manages to finish the story you're reading and lead you into the next almost effortlessly. The worst I read though was in The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. As far as I'm concerned, the author ended the book in a middle of a sentence. And, like Augustus Waters, I think there is an unspoken contract between writer and reader which says that you should probably finish the book. It's because of this that I seriously dislike cliffhangers.

Emily at Ed and Em's Reviews said: Everneath's cliffie was pretty good! I saw it coming by the time it happened, but I still couldn't believe it! Did not like Starcrossed's "cliffie." (Though, I didn't like any of the book.)

Laura at Little Read Riding Hood said: Opal is both my favorite and least favorite. If you haven't read it I can't explain it to you. I thought I was going to die. [Concerning cliffhangers in general] I dislike them. The whole story doesn't need wrapped up, but some closure is good. No closure makes me feel used and dirty.

Katrina at I Have Lived A Thousand Lives said: Loved the Deadline (Mira Grant) cliffhanger. I completely lost it.

Kierra at All About YA Novels said: I dislike them.

Cassie at Citrus Reads said: The Darkest Minds cliffhanger sticks out in my mind. Loved and hated it.

To all the people who gave me their input, thank you! You're all awesome - just thought I'd let you know. Now, if you're still with me after this incredibly long post, first, thank you for sticking around, and second, what do you think of cliffhangers? Do you like them, love them, hate them, dislike them, or does it depend? Let me know in the comments what you think about them, and maybe even why, and what are your favorite and least favorite cliffhangers, if you want to! And if you don't feel like letting me know what you think about cliffhangers in the comments, fill out the poll below! I'm really curious about how my readers feel about cliffhangers. 

How do you feel about cliffhangers?
I hate them.
I loved them!
I like them.
I dislike them.
I'm indifferent towards them.
It depends. (If so, on what? Tell me in the comments!)
Create your own poll


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