Cliffhangers: The End?!?

Now that we have started rereading the Fever series, cliffhanger talk has commenced. Karen Marie Moning ends book three and four, Faefever and Dreamfever with massive cliffhangers. The kind that make you break out in a sweat, while you sob uncontrollably and scour every message board you can find in hopes that someone has insight into what will happen next.

Mandi: I love these kind of cliffhangers. Yes it is torture, especially when you become so wrapped up in the book and characters and the author makes you wait a year to give you answers – only to END IN ANOTHER CLIFFHANGER. I love to turn to my reading buddies and discuss it – and freak out together. Another cliffhanger that really stands out this year is the ending of Double Cross (book two in Carolyn Crane’s Disillutionists trilogy). I will not say what the cliffhanger is for those that have not read it (and you really should!) but again, this one was a brutal way to end the book. It was also perfect in my opinion. It fit the tone of the book, and knowing it is a trilogy, having the second book end in such a fashion where everything is up in the air, makes me want the third book that much more.

Which brings me to this – do you ever feel an author writes a cliffhanger just to sell another book? Have you ever read a cliffhanger that was written poorly, or didn’t fit in with the story? After talking about cliffhangers relating to the Fever series, some just can’t get into the books because of that aspect. They intentionally don’t start the series until all books are out, or never start the series because cliffhangers put them off. In a review posted on Amazon of Double Cross, someone gave the book one star because they felt this book didn’t have a real end and it was trying to trap readers.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of a cliffhanger I didn’t enjoy or that was executed poorly – and I’m having a hard time coming up with one. Maybe I just haven’t read a ton with cliffhanger endings. I am sure there are tons out there. In my opinion, if the book is good, I will read the next in the series no matter the ending. I don’t care if it ends wrapped up or with nothing resolved. And maybe it takes a few minutes of research to see what type of book you are reading. If it is part of a pre-destined series, then you should most likely expect messy endings until the final book. If it is urban fantasy, you are much more likely to go down the cliffhanger route than with a standard romance where at least the hero and heroine will have a happily ever after.

Tori: I don’t mind cliffhangers myself-UNLESS- the author makes me wait 2 or more years for the next book .*are you listening Linda Lael Miller????* Waiting more then a year pretty much guarantees I will A. lose interest or B. forget the first book. Neither is appealing to me. There has to be some sort of conclusion even if it’s just a minor story plot.

Case in point. The Mojo Sheepshanks series by Linda Lael Miller. Great series. Love it. Unfortunately, she releases a book for it every 2 years. I’m waiting on the 3rd installment and it’s going to be 3 years come Jan 2011. 3. Years. That’s just too long to leave something me hanging I think -waiting on Tucker & Moje.

LKH’s cliffhangers got old because they fall into the “I need to sell more books so I’ll leave off at a critical point and keep them wondering”. Which would be fine if the same story isn’t being told over and over and over again only changing the names and sexual positions.

Gail Carriger’s Changless cheesed me off big time. Blameless leaves off on a HUGE cliffhanger yet none of that is really addressed in Changeless. I felt very manipulated.

I think Carolyn Crane’s Double Cross cliffhanger was brilliant. Evil but brilliant. Does she wants to sell more books? Yea, I’m gonna say that’s a big 10-4 buddy. But the sheer audacity she had to leave off there was fab. I raged then laughed out loud.

So what do you guys think? Do cliffhangers make you tingle with excitement or do you stay far, far away?


  1. Patti (Book Addict) says

    Cliffhangers hurt so good. For me, they keep the story in my head while I'm off reading other books/series until the release of the next book.

    Do I think it's a way to sell books? Of course. TV and movies do it too.

  2. Katiebabs/ KB says

    Cliffhangers will have me screaming, "NOOO!" but it is a great way to have my buy the next book.

    Catching Fire, Double Cross and Lover Avenged all had great cliffhanger endings. Reading them gets the blood pumping where you are dying for the next book.

  3. Mari Freeman says

    I like cliffhangers. I love the anticipation of waiting for the details in the next book.

    But I agree with Tori. Too long between books will make me lose interest- with or without a cliffhanger.

  4. Twimom227 says

    I am going to say that honestly, I don't enjoy cliff hangers. The only time that I can enjoy a cliffhanger ending is when the subsequent book is already out and I can pick up right away. And it's not that cliffhangers are bad – or that the new direction of the story isn't appealing. It's just that I need closure and some semblance of a happy ending or I get too upset. What I enjoy are UF stories like Kate Daniels that leaves unanswered questions and open storylines, but still has closure to the "immediate" story at the end of each book.

  5. Stacy~ says

    Love cliffhangers too, as long as I know it'll be dealt with (mostly) in the next book. But waiting too long is anticlimactic. I lose interest and eventually stop caring. It is a rare occurrence where I'd stick with it.

    But I live the excitement & thrill a cliffhanger makes me feel. Bring it on!

  6. Julie says

    I am not a cliffhanger lover. In fact, they make me a little angry. But I must say that I enjoy how they bring readers together. It's a great way to get people together to talk about the book and our theories (as you said Mandi). The wait for the next book better not be too long though 'cause that just brings in into the mean category (as you mentioned Tori).
    If you're going to have a cliffhanger, at least put some closure on some plot lines in the book. I find Double Cross and Lover Avenged were great cliffhangers! Left the book open but you didn't feel like you were drowning.
    Great post ladies!

  7. Mandi says

    Patti – they do hurt so good ;)

    KB – I need to read the hunger trilogy! I keep saying that but I do!

    Mari – Yes..too long and you forget why you felt excited!

    Jen – There are so many that have similar opinions. They wait until all books are out before picking them up.

    Stacy – you know – I have noticed many books coming out close together (like downside series) that one had a little cliffie (at least relationship wise) and it was nice I knew I only had to wait a month to find out how it was resolved.

    Julie – Double Cross definitely left the book open – but at the same time you KNOW all will be addressed in third and final book. Right? LOL.

  8. RKCharron says

    Hi :)
    Good cliffhangers will keep me coming back for more. The Girl Who Played With Fire ends with a cliffhanger that made me get the third book the next day. But lengthy series without conclusion… I wait till it is done (Eye of the World series – I read up to Book 9)
    Wonderful post,
    All the best,

  9. Sharon S. says

    I don't mind a cliffhanger if all the books for that series are already out . I don't mind waiting half a year for the next book, but waiting more than that sucks. I deal with it, but it SUCKS! . Karen Chance is one of my favorites, but she takes about 2 years between books.

  10. My 5 Monkeys(Julie) says

    I don't like them but its a great way to keep readers to the book B. read the series..

    Catching Fire, downside , and Fever have been great to keep me there , and totally agree that if any author waits to long on book, they lost me as reader-talking diana (outlander)

    With books being a 3 book series and most books out are that way it seems. I can assume that book number 1,2, will end in cliffhangers , and 3 will wrap it all up. Its a love/hate relationship sometimes.

  11. Chris says

    Cliffhangers piss me off. :) In fact, after the Faefever cliffhanger, I quit reading that series and have no interest in picking it up again.

  12. Fiction Vixen says

    I love a good cliffhanger and the anticipation it creates. Yes, the waiting can be torture but I love it when books excite me and move me. Psst, I also don't peek at birthday and Christmas presents because I like the anticipation. hehe

  13. Paranormal Haven says

    The cliffhanger in Double Cross about killed me. I have peeked a few times so I could calm myself down enough to take time and read all the book and not scan it just so I can find out what happen.

    Stephanie G
    Paranormal Haven

  14. Bells says

    I have wanted to pull out my hair after reading some cliffhangers. But, they are exciting! And as a lover of books, I love it when a book can bring me up so high, only for me to want to feel like I'm going to fall!

    The cliffhanger at the end of Double Cross had me gasping and I had to reread it 3 times to make sure that I was reading what was on the page. LOL!

    Dreamfever was another one that had me saying OMG! at the end of it!

    And then there's Dead, Undead…from JA Saare that had me saying HOLY S**T!

    Personally I don't care if an author writes a cliffhanger for me to buy another one of their books. It's sweet joy reading that next book to see what happens. :D

  15. Fallon says

    It's funny that you bring this up. I just finished Carolyn Crane's books and then dove into the Fever series for the first time. Reading two series back to back that have evil cliffhangers like that has been exasperating. I kind of like the torture. I guess I'm a bit of a masochist LOL.

    The other cliffhanger that really dug into me was the ending of J.A. Saare's Dead, Undead or Somewhere in Between. Waiting for the next book is killing me.

  16. Missie says

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, I hate cliffhangers.

    I love a good book series, but I also think that each book in the series has to be strong enough to be able to stand on its own. It it doesn't then it is poorly written in my opinion.

    The infamous cliffies in the Fever series killed me because so much of the books seemed to just be about filler to purposely stall the story which frustrated me to no end. That said, I'm still a fan, mainly because of JZB, but I'm reluctant to recommend the books to anyone until Shadowfever comes out.

  17. Mandi says

    RK – That must have been a good ending :)

    Sharon – I haven't read Karen Chance but two years is a long time….you almost have to reread to remember things.

    Julie – is love/ almost know going in the ending is going to make you crazy..but since we are all book hussies..we can't help ourselves ;)

    Chris – LMAO…I like that about you:)

  18. Catherine says

    I have a definite loathing for cliffhangers. Sometimes they make me anxious to read the next book when I know the it's already out, but they just piss me off when I have to wait a year.

    Overreaching events don't bother me when I have to wait, because that's expected if it's a series. But I feel that I should have closure when I close a book, even if it's part of a series. The events that happened in that book should be resolved.

    Hmmm, a cliffhanger where I felt the author did it solely to make you read the next book… The first book that comes to mind is Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between. It was an average read, but I was still feeling pleasant toward the series. Until the very end!

    The events from the book were wrapped up and it seemed like it would end on a high note. But then the author threw in this out of the blue event three pages before the end that made it into a horrible cliffhanger. I was so mad! I put the book on PBS immediately and washed my hands of it. I felt jerked around and manipulated by the author.

  19. Anonymous says

    I would have to disagree with Catherine on this I enjoy the cliffhangers, it sets the the stage. Makes you excited to read the next book, regardless of when said book is due to come out. That is the reason we continue to read books, whether they are series or stand alones. As the reader you want to know what happens the anticipation builds, moving you towards the next book. with Dead, Undead, and Somewhere in Betwen that's exactly what Saare provides, she leaves on the cliff, waiting for that unexpected jump to where you are able to free fall into the next book. I say well done and excellent read. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but lets not bash someones authentic writing style. Because lets face Saare has a voice of her own, and its fucking awesome.

    I would not dismiss the idea of Cliffhangers, they are not bad they are a form to catch the reader. Hell Stephanine Myers does it in the twilight series, not to compare because these are two different authors, both brilliant in the their own rites…

    So I say Bring on the cliff hangers.

  20. amyt865 says

    I think author manipulation with regard to cliffhangers is a little harsh but it's all in individual interpretation and opinion. I was pissed with the ending of Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between, but in a GOOD way! It definitely made me want to know what was to come with the characters (Rhiannon/Disco) that I had invested in! Same with Carolyn Crane's Double Cross. I am on pins and needles wanting to know what is next with Packard, Justine and Otto. That's the sign of an incredible writer in my opinion. When they leave you on edge and itching for more!

  21. Catherine says

    Anonymous – I thought this was an open question to anyone about their opinion on cliffhangers and which ones they felt were included only to get the reader to pick up the next book. I didn't realize it was okay to answer only if the other commenters disliked that cliffhanger too. How exactly am I bashing an author by saying I felt jerked around by her ending?

  22. Mistress Bianca says

    Catherine, the tone seemed a bit bashy to me.. And I did say that we are entitled to our own opinon. Everyone is.. That is why there is such a diverse group of readers. You have one and I have one… That just happened to be my opinon. ((SMILES)) Were all passionate about out books.

  23. Mandi says

    FV – I don't look at my pressies either!

    PH – I do peek sometimes too….I can't help myself.

    Bells – How could I forget Dead, Undead and Somewhere in Between??? OMG….the cliffhanger in that book!!!!!!! :) Disco..whimper

    Fallon – oh wow – you did expose yourself to torture..but at the same time..two awesome series in a row! :)

  24. Mandi says

    Missie – I've heard several people say they are waiting on SF to come out before the will rec/have a big opinion on the series. I will say A LOT rides on this final book…there were def parts of DF that frustrated me….we shall see….

    Catherine – I was shocked at the ending of Dead – I can't believe I forgot to put it in my post. I enjoyed the book though – so while the end was like – WHOA – I still liked the story. Thanks for that example though..I was having a hard time coming up with one that really angered me.

    Tigris – I really enjoy cliffhangers too..but they are not for everyone. I wasn't prepared for the one in Dead – but I liked it. I can't wait to see what she does in book two :) Poor Disco :)

    Amy – Good point Amy – I'm def on the edge of my seat for several books. My anxiety level is very high ;)

  25. MamaKitty says

    While I don't absolutely love cliffhangers, I don't really have a problem with them. In my opinion, I feel as though they're similar to the cliffhanger endings on my favorite TV shows at the end of every season. The number one TV show cliffhanger that comes to mind is from Private Practice, when the crazy lady started cutting the baby out of Violet's stomach and the screen faded to black – I jumped up and screamed (literally) at my screen "You've got to be kidding me! That's it?! NO! There's got to be more!!!" Sheer torture over the summer the summer, but sheer genius from Shonda Rimes… because it made me come back. It made me look for the date that Private Practice was coming back on, and it made me triplecheck my DVR was set to record it (even though I watched it live the day it premiered). Like I said. Genius.

    As for books that have cliffhanger endings, I'd have to say the same thing. While it's slightly annoying that I have to wait until the next book is released to find out what happens, it's sheer genius on the part of the author. It keeps me interested and keeps me coming back. I noticed that Catherine mentioned Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between as a reference to a cliffhanger ending that she hated. I realize that this is her opinion, but I'm going to have to disagree. I loved the story and was totally enthralled from beginning to end. And yes, the cliffhanger ending did make me do much the same as I did with the Private Practice season finale (PK still thinks I've lost my marbles for getting so excited over a book and/or a TV show, but that's entirely beside the point), but it basically guaranteed that I'll be returning for the next installment of Rhiannon's story. Yes I'm sad that I'll have to wait, but in the mean time, Jaime (and a whole host of other authors that I love) has other books and short stories to enjoy.

    Bottom line: cliffhangers are annoying, but they're pure genius on the part of the author.

  26. Mandi says

    I wouldn't say every cliffhanger is pure takes a very solid story to back it up. You can't just throw one in at the end. You have to make us invested enough in the characters and their future to want to come back and read more about them. If the book lacks that, and then you throw in a cliffhanger, that is not enough reason to read book two in my opinion.

    Even then, some people just don't like them. I like the variety of responses we've received :)

  27. Fit_Cat says

    I don't mind a cliffhanger if the following book is out or if I don't have to wait too long for it to come out. If not I hate them depending of the "cliffhanginess level". For example I didn't mind much Double Cross, but I despise the Dreamfever one. When I finish that book, I almost throw my reader to the wall, I screamed and stomped up and down my house restless for hours (DH thought I was crazy… maybe I was for a little bit), I went to every possible forums for weeks and I couldn't believe that KMM had done that. Now I'm kind of ok with it (after almost a year)… even though I'm afraid of re reading it with too much time before Jan. 18. Because I don't want to feel the same despair that I feel a year ago. I think I will read the first 3 books during these days and dreamfever I'll read it on january 16.

  28. Danielle says

    Great topic!

    See, I loved the ending to 'Double Cross' because, like you said, it was a great moment in the *TRILOGY*. I have gone into both 'Mind Games' and 'Double Cross' fully prepared for a three-book-long journey and I think that whammy of a cliffhanger was inspired.

    As for 'bad' cliffhangers? There's a great vampire book by Robin McKinley called 'Sunshine'… it doesn't end on a cliffhanger exactly, but it ends with lots of loose-ends and heaps of potential for more books… but the author is adamant that she doesn't write sequels. That annoys me. Fair enough if an author writes a cliffhanger fully intending to climb reader's out of its depths in upcoming books… but refusing to clear things up downright annoys me.

    I love Diana Gabaldon, and her cliffhangers are heart-palpitating and great… but somewhhat frustrating because of her 4-5 year gap between books. I mean, with 'An Echo in the Bone' Ms Gabaldon has had to blog to fans and say that, regardless of how it looked at the end of the book, *this* charatcer survives and *this* character is going to be okay. Purely because fans have been worried about these beloved characters and can't handle a 4-year-long wait for the resolution!

  29. orannia says

    Ohhh, great topic!

    I wouldn't say every cliffhanger is pure takes a very solid story to back it up.

    I completely agree! I think there should be judicious use of cliff-hangers – you can't just keep throwing them out there. And yes, I'm referring to Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series. After a while you just become numb to it all. To have the 'OMG! NOOOOOOO!' factor you need to throw them out there when the reader least expects them. Less is more IMHO.

    And no I haven't read the Fever series…yet, but because numberous cliff-hangers drive me nuts (see above :) I'm waiting until the final book is out :) I'm so bad *grin*

  30. Janna says

    Cliffhangers are not my thing. I try to avoid them by waiting with reading a series until the last/next book is out. Or, with tv shows, waiting with watching them until the next season already started again.
    It's easier for me to handle being the one that's always behind with every series than to deal with the aweful wait after a cliffhanger.
    I know, I'm a chicken. ;)

  31. st says

    I think there's a love/hate relationship when it comes to cliffhangers…it's good because then you get revved up for the next installment (if it's a REALLY good series, like the Fever series) and it's a good way to get people going. I personally don't care all that much if the author is doing it to sell another book; as long as the series is good and doesn't end, I'm down for it. However, if takes a year or more for the next one to be released, well that can be a pain in the @$$ !!

  32. Smokinhotbooks says

    I agree with T – Changeless miffed me off big time. Cliffhangers are not my favorite endings but if done well and not just so I will buy the next book – I'm game.

  33. Mandi says

    Fit Cat – I couldn't believe KMM gave us ANOTHER cliffhanger after FF. She kills us…she does.

    Danielle -I like going into series knowing approx how many the author has planned. I have only read the first couple Outlander books..4 yrs is a LONG time to wait :)

    Orannia – or you are really smart to wait! ;) But I can't wait to hear your opinion of these books if you do pick them up.

    Janna – no way are you a I like getting all of these perspectives. Some wouldn't be able to stand being behind in a series…

    st – I agree…the books definitely have to be worthy of the ending. So torture us, but do it quickly! ;)

    Smokin – I still have to read Changeless. I hadn't read the best reviews so I have been putting it off.

  34. Tara SG (25 Hour Books) says

    I don't mind having some unanswered questions. However, I hate huge cliffhangers! I usually try to wait until a whole series is finished before I start it (if I've heard there are big cliffhangers).

  35. Natalie says

    I kind of felt cheated at the end of "Waking The Witch" by KA which is not how I usually feel at the end of her books.
    I don't like cliff-hangers in general. I like closure to the current issue but characters that I'm not willing to say "good bye" to so I want to buy more books in that series.

  36. says

    Good info and right to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where to employ some professional writers? Thank you :)

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