Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 23
Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors, bloggers and publishers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2010, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2011.
Who: Rhiannon Hart, awesome Australian blogger of all things paranormal and dystopian, and soon-to-be debut trilogy novelist of YA Fantasy!
Recent Work: Rhiannon’s debut novel, Lharmell (or the book referred to as Lharmell but whose title will probably be changed!) will be published in 2011 by Random House Australia. Go Rhiannon!
Please give her a warm welcome!
I want to talk about trilogy endings. I’ve never written one myself. But I’m about to. Naturally I’ve been thinking long and hard about the three trilogies I finished this year, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy and Steig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. All favourite series of mine. All with trilogy endings of varying success. There’s something about speculative fiction that lends itself particularly well to the series format. The adventure, the heroes and villains, the world-building—they’re often so intricate that one book simply isn’t enough. I adore them, and I’m having so much fun writing one. But it’s also faintly terrifying. Woe betide the author who fraks up the final book.
If there’s one trilogy I cannot recommend enough it’s Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking books. I was pinned to my chair reading these. The heart-pounding conclusion of book two, The Ask and the Answer, (**spoiler alert for book two**) had me howling for the finale. What a set up—the Spackle army on one side, the Answer on the other, the envoy about to descend from the skies and Todd and Viola trapped in the town with the devious Mayor (who is possibly the best villain I have ever read). GOSH. If that doesn’t set drums beating on your bones I don’t know what will. Ness had better end his trilogy in a big way after a set up like that. And brilliant, wonderful writer that he is, does he ever. I defy anyone not to weep buckets upon finishing this series.
I am sure I’m supposed to be discussing only the books I adored in 2010 but I’m going to bend the rules a bit here. Mockingjay. Most anticipated of 2010. A dearly loved series of mine. Ground-breaking in so many ways. A highly influential series. But oh, dear … perhaps you were one of the many, many readers who loved this finale. I wanted to be rocketed to the moon upon reading the last pages, but how I was disappointed. The problem with trilogies is that the main character has often been through the wringer by the time book three begins. How to keep them fighting? How to make them want to fight, not just go through the motions? Instead of a separate book, Mockingjay felt more like the protracted denouement of book two. I dearly wish it had been otherwise.
It seemed like the whole world has read these books in the last year: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. The finale was actually released in 2009, but I didn’t get to these books until this year. They’re not YA, but I feel as if Lisbeth Salander, the pixie-like hacker who won’t take crap from anybody, would be incredibly relatable to a teen reader. Like Katniss, Lisbeth has the most unimaginable torments visited on her small frame during book two, which tops off a lifetime of mental anguish. Unsurprisingly, running away is foremost in her mind at the beginning of book three, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. (***Slight spoiler alert for the beginning of book three***) Mikael Blomkvist has his work cut out for him convincing her she must stick around for the trial. But he does, and the reader is treated to one of the most entertaining court scenes alongside some gripping political intrigue and police investigations. Stellar—except for one thing. The Millennium books were never meant to be a trilogy. (If I could but go back ten years in time and tell Larsson to put down the cigarettes and bacon cheeseburger…) The editor did a brilliant job at tying things up neatly, all things considered. But Blomkvist and … “her”, I will call her? Just like that? Well, if you say so … (Though I simply don’t believe it. Grumble.)
What the best trilogy endings have in common, in my opinion, is the culmination of events that the author has set in motion throughout the two earlier books. A mighty big bang, in other words, and an ending that hints at the future that is in store for our beloved characters beyond the words The End. (Rather than an ending that clouts you over the head with it. Okay, I’ll stop whining about Mockingjay now.) I pray to the book gods that I don’t frak my own trilogy ending up.
Looking ahead to 2011, my most anticipated trilogy ending isn’t strictly a trilogy ending in the traditional sense. But as I’m bending the rules anyway … Kristen Cashore’s Bitterblue. How could it not be?
Thanks for having me again this year, Smugglers!
Thank you, Rhiannon!