Maybe it’s because we, as readers, become increasingly passionate about our favorite series that we have higher and higher expectations for each book. When you think about it logically, authors like Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling must feel like Atlas, with the weight of all of their successful books on their shoulders, trying to keep their series from tumbling off their backs.
All too often, the end of a great series leaves readers feeling underwhelmed at best, and annoyed at worst (ahem, Twilight series). Many readers were infuriated when Veronica Roth killed of the heroine of the Divergent series, for example. But when a series is ended well, there are few things in the world more satisfying for a devoted reader. Below are my top three favorite YA fantasy series endings, and the lessons I took away from them. Beware of spoilers!
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – Solve a puzzle an entire series in the making.
It may be so obvious as to be a cliché, but Harry Potter has to take top billing for best YA fantasy series endings ever. There were clues planted from book 1 that were finally revealed, and they didn’t disappoint. My favorite moment in the entire series was when Harry finally saw Snape’s memories and understood his true motivation. And the final book was littered with details like this – the invisibility cloak, Dumbledore’s past, even the much-awaited kiss between Hermione and Ron. The final battle was brutal but satisfying, and the epilogue gave readers a sense of closure. Readers may have their issues with the series conclusion, but for the most part they were minor. The brilliance of the series ending was a testament to the brilliance of the entire series.
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield – Evolve your character in a meaningful way within each book and throughout the series.
Tally Youngblood, the protagonist in The Uglies Series, is a compelling example of how a character must continue to evolve in every single book of a series. Westerfield does a masterful job of evolving Tally’s thinking, maturity, and understanding of the world around her. She increasingly sees that things aren’t black and white, and as she understands nuance, she grows up. The Tally at the beginning and end of each book is different, and so are the Tally at the beginning and end of the series. The only way that Westerfield could have achieved this is if he planned the stages that Tally would go through from the beginning. It’s this level of planning that’s required to create a masterpiece.
The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry – Pivot perspectives to keep the series fresh.
Lowry takes a different approach than Rowling or Westerfield to keep readers hooked. Each one of the books of The Giver Quartet are unique, but interconnected. It’s fascinating to watch old characters interact with new, creating a webbed world that feels real because of its complexity. By the end of The Giver Quartet I felt so immersed in the world that I could have added my own chapter to it. When others want to continue living in a world you’ve created, you know you have a great story.
What’s your YA fantasy series ending ever?
I could have done without Tally’s incarnation in Extras, but I’ll forgive that one as it was really a stand alone book.
I also loved how Snape’s story resolved. So beautiful.