On Endings within Series

leigh-bardugo-six-of-crows-new-book-01I abruptly finished Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo over the weekend. Despite the change in point of view, which didn’t feel like an indicator of an ending due to a pretty fluid third-person POV throughout the book, when I turned the final page I was surprised to find it was finished.

I had put the request in from my library quite some time ago so forgot Six of Crows is billed as the first in a series. I jumped into a fantastical world dealing with class and money and family and trust. (I feel like I should point out that the supposedly seventeen year old or so characters all seemed like adults to me, even with their constant yearnings to go home. Adults can want to go home too. Maybe because they grew up in bad circumstances or in the military from a young age they grew up fast but I read all the members of the crew as adults which felt strange for a YA novel. But I digress.)

It seemed a hefty book based on the slower uptick of my percentage read. As the main action resolved, there was a twist. Very exciting! I looked forward to seeing how it was resolved. Cue point of view change and ‘The End’ or, to be apt, ‘To Be Continued’.

Now, I’m all for a cliffhanger. I enjoyed the season six finale of The Walking Dead so I must love a cliffhanger. But Six of Crows for some reason didn’t feel satisfying at the end. I honestly don’t know what I would recommend to change the ending short of writing how the final twist is solved, although I presume it will take at least another book to do that.

Could it be a byproduct of reading so many mystery series recently? While there are character evolutions and subplots that weave through mystery series, a mystery and/or murder is solved by the end of the book. I might be left waiting for the next book to see what happens to the protagonist but I know the mystery has been solved. I’m thinking of the Cormoran Strike novels, Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery series and the Aunt Dimity series.

Six of Crows is definitely not a mystery and isn’t trying to be. It feels unfair to line up the two genres against each other.

Other series I’ve enjoyed that had through lines while wrapping things up each book are Outlander and the Pink Carnation series. Outlander is massive and captures people’s lives over the course of the series so there are most definitely big things happening and some tense moments toward the end of certain installments. The Pink Carnation series has a modern-day historian researching a different British Napoleonic spy in each book with the historian’s love life being the through line. For both series, the main action gets resolved one way or another with some breadcrumbs to keep you waiting for the next book.

As I’m writing this, I think I’m getting a clearer sense of why the ending felt so abrupt. It was the change in point of view. It distanced me from the main characters even though they were in the scene and even though I learned enough to know what the next part of their adventure will be. Maybe that was what threw me – leaving the crew I had come to know and like over the course of the novel.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference. Bardugo made a choice for the ending. It felt off to me but didn’t take away from the overall experience of the book. I became invested in the characters and want to know what happens next, which is probably why it felt all the more unexpected to leave them.

 

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