Saying goodbye at the end of a series – whether it’s a trilogy or longer – can be heartbreaking. It can feel as if we’re losing a best friend. Years have been invested in those characters and the worlds they live in and having to move on without them leaves us with such a sense of loss.
Even when the writer has tied everything up so nicely, leaving only happy possibilities for the characters’ futures, just knowing that there is no more story to tell and that when a year passes there won’t be another book forthcoming, can fill us with sadness.
When a series has reached its end, when the final words have been printed and the characters’ lives are frozen at that moment in time when the author said their goodbyes and walked away, we may be left questioning the could haves, would haves, should haves and might haves.
Questions such as – Could there have been another story in there somewhere just begging to be told? Could the author really have meant what he/she wrote when Character X said something about Character Y? Would the author have wanted to continue but the publisher felt that it was time to move on? Would the characters’ love have lasted for eternity or would it have faded with time? Would any of the characters have met their end in a future book if the series were to have continued?
It is questions like these that fill us with sadness or dread as we approach that final visit to the world we loved, to the characters we’ve laughed and cried and suffered with, and to a story we feel so intimately connected to. These are the questions we must prepare for as we ready ourselves for the end.
And it is questions like these that make some of us choose to delay the inevitable. Sometimes indefinitely.
If we stop reading a series before that final book, we never have to say goodbye. The possibilities for the characters are left wide open. The story can still continue if we don’t let it end.
If we don’t let it end, we don’t have to move on, we don’t have to leave the characters behind, relegated to a past point in time in our lives. They can continue to take this journey with us. They can continue to be a part of our present and not just a part of our past.
But only if we don’t let it end.
It is often easier to say goodbye to a standalone novel than to say goodbye to a series. We know before we begin that when we reach that final page that will be the end. There will be no more. It’s a one-time peek into the lives of the characters and when we reach that final word on that final page, we must be ready to say goodbye.
But when we embark on a series, we are ready to invest so much of our lives into following that series to its conclusion. We anticipate those characters becoming integral parts of our lives for years to come. And we are forever hopeful that what may have begun as a trilogy will be extended to five books, if not many, many more.
As long as the characters have a story to tell, we are thrilled with the idea of coming back for more year after year after year.
So, when a series meets its end early, or before we are ready to let go, we suffer all the more. Especially if we read that final book not knowing it was the end. We expected longevity and yet got only what we consider a brief glimpse into that world. We thought we had more time with the characters. We thought there were more adventures to be had. And we didn’t have the chance to decide for ourselves whether or not we were ready to reach the end and say farewell.
Even for those that we know in advance it’s the end, when we have months or years to prepare ourselves, we still may not be ready to let go. Over those months and years we may become even more connected to the characters, even more invested in their lives, even more ready to go on those adventures, fall in love, triumph over heartbreak, uncover deadly secrets or suffer great loss. The longer a series, the harder we may find it is to just let go.
And when more than one of our favorite series is set to reach its end in the same year, it is even more devastating. How can we possibly be expected to say goodbye to so many of our closest friends all at once? We can’t. And some of us just won’t.
I am one of those who just can’t let it end.
I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried. But I can only say my goodbyes in small doses. I can’t say goodbye to all my favorite characters and series in the same year. That possibility is unthinkable.
Saying goodbye to Sonny and Kelley was tough enough, when I forced myself to read to the end of the Wondrous Strange series by Lesley Livingston. Saying goodbye to Rose and Dimitri from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead absolutely killed me. Two goodbyes in such a short period of time was unthinkable. Trying to say goodbye to Niall, Irial, Leslie, Aislinn, Keenan, Seth, Ani and Devlin, proved too much. I still haven’t been able to do it.
And my unexpected goodbye to Dana, Keane, Ethan and Arawn was a heartbreak I never could have imagined. So, I prolong the inevitable. I refuse to let another series end for awhile. I choose to imagine that the author has more adventures for their characters to experience, more enemies for them to meet, more friends for them to lose and more discoveries for them to make.
I choose to not let it end. At least for now, for my very favorite series. But I have a feeling that when I finally am ready to let go, there will be a few more series that have reached their end. I just can’t win.
So, do you delay the inevitable? Do you put off saying goodbye? Or do you dive right into that last book in the series to find out how it will end?
And if you are one of those readers who aren’t afraid to say goodbye, have there been a few goodbyes that surprised you? Goodbyes you wished you hadn’t made quite then? Goodbyes you would still be putting off today if you knew then what you know now?
Are you a reader who is ready to make new friends and say goodbye to the old or are you one of those who can’t, won’t and don’t let it end?