A rant, or possibly a question, about Young Adult books
For those of you who followed my Super Duper Top Secret Writing Project, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been reading A TON of Young Adult books over the past few months trying to wrap my head around whether or not the Young Adult book I wrote is publishable. I’ve really enjoyed many of the books I’ve read. Most of them have way too much sexual content for me to be comfortable letting my kiddo read them- yet. However, THAT is not my rant. My rant is this: Lately, everything I’ve read ends without an ending. Rather, what I’ve noticed, if you were to sit the book on a three-act structure, the books are ending at Act One. Since each book touts itself as being book one of a trilogy, in some ways, that makes sense. Sort of. If you want to read three two hundred page books to find out how the primary story question ends.
I do not.
Let’s break this down. Each book is two hundred pages (give or take… actually a bit longer, but I like simple math). Plus, they are all hardcover, which retail for about $17.99 each. So, I have to read 600 pages to find out how a story ends, AND pay just over $50 to find out the ending.
No thank you.
Really. Just. No.
Yes, the idea of sucking readers in at a high pricepoint and then making them buy three books is kind of ingenious. If it’s a bestseller like The Hunger Games, the author and publisher stand to make a lot of money.
But here’s the thing. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but when I got to the last chapter, realizing I was going to have to read TWO MORE books before getting any satisfaction, as a reader, I felt betrayed. Then, as a writer, when I realized that basically, I’m going to get Act One in one book, Act Two in the next, and Act Three in the final book, I felt cheated. Ultimately, I felt manipulated. It’s going to cost me fifty bucks to find out whether or not the ending is satisfying. Based on book one’s ending, I have no guarantees of a satisfying ending.
Which means I’m not buying the rest of the series. You haven’t given me any assurances that I will be satisfied at the end of book three. Moreover, because I feel so manipulated with book one, I probably will never pick up books by either of these two authors again. My trust was blown with book one, and with the limited reading time that I have, I’m not willing to try another book.
The more I mulled over my outrage over these two books, the more I began to wonder, is this simply a trend in publishing? I also recently read a general fiction book that did the exact same thing. And I hated it. HATED it. I might just check the book out of the library and read the last couple of chapters to find out how it ends, but I cannot afford to invest the kind of time the author and publisher ask of me. Maybe I need to stick to the “formulaic romances” some people like to mock. At least with them, I know that I’m going to get a satisfying ending. Not, “buy two more really expensive books, and MAYBE you’ll be satisfied.”
So that’s my question… am I expecting too much? Is there an underlying piece that I’m missing that says, “if you’re reading a Young Adult book, or a Mainstream book, do not expect a complete story without reading all of the books in the series?”