Talking Cliffhangers & Unspoken with Sarah Rees Brennan

I have a very special post from Sarah Rees Brennan to share with you all today. If you have recently read her latest book, Unspoken, you will have no doubt had some sort of reaction to the ending. Sarah is here to share her thoughts on the matter. I hope you find it both entertaining and interesting!

Title: Unspoken
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Random House
Released: Sept 11, 2012
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met... a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

I Shot The Sheriff (But I Did Not Throw The Deputy Over A Cliff) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Cliffhangers, What They Are, Why I Like Them… & Why I Don’t Think I Wrote One…

Cliffhangers. What is a cliffhanger, when it’s at home? (If you are at home on the very edge of a cliff, my suggestion is: Move.)

It’s not someone actually hanging from a cliff. Okay, it is someone actually hanging from a cliff when it was Charles Dickens, and that’s where we get the word cliffhanger from.

It was also someone hanging from a cliff in Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes. A lady has to strip off to her underwear and fashion a rope out of her dress and petticoats to haul the poor guy up. Then they embrace while the lady is shockingly unclothed! Word is that Thomas Hardy wrote this book on a bet.

But mostly, a cliffhanger means that the audience is left in suspense, and the characters are left in danger.

Dickens wrote in a time of serial fiction, when you would end on a cliffhanger and be super excited to get the next bit in a few months (if it was a quarterly magazine, say, you’d get a chunk of a book four times a year). Fiction doesn’t work that way anymore… unless you’re talking TV shows. Or, to a lesser degree, a book series.

A girl I know said recently ‘I’m into some super hardcore no safe word stuff… when it comes to fiction.’ She wasn’t talking about Fifty Shades of Grey (I mean I don’t think… no harm if she was!) she meant that she liked to have her heart hurt when she was watching or reading something.

I think a lot of people do. Books are about terrible things happening to people: the Hunger Games is called, well, the Hunger Games, not Katniss and Prim’s Fun Day Out At the Park Kept Safe By A Benevolent But Not Intrusive Government And Featuring No Death-Defying Situations At All. And that’s okay—bad things happening are exciting, they’re not happening to real people, and they keep us turning the pages. But then the last page comes.

Endings are tricky, and so are people’s responses to them.


So I wrote this book called Unspoken, and some people have some very strong feelings about the ending! But I’ll get back to me…

Look at the Hunger Games: the first book ends with, well, one bad situation resolved, but the main threat still looming, and the main characters in a bad emotional place with each other. Is it a cliffhanger? Well, I didn’t think so… but we could always have a vote!

Notably, in the movie the bad emotional place the characters are in is downplayed enormously, because people like a ‘win’ at the end of a movie.

Wanting a ‘win’ is no bad thing, but it can turn bad if it doesn’t make emotional sense. I would say the ending of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights is a cliffhanger: the book ends on the heroine doing something dangerous, and someone innocent has just been murdered by someone we didn’t expect to start doing murders of the innocent! We are all very upset! However, in the movie of the book, The Golden Compass, in order to get the ‘win’, the story cuts off just before the murder of the innocent. Which left the story in a weird place, and all those who had read the book feeling disoriented: left the murderer-to-be-in-five-minutes frozen in time, for all time, as a hero.

Movies are big business, and I totally understand that they have to make the commercial decision of the happier ending. But I always think it’s cool, and brave, to end in the place that’s right.

But how can you tell which place is right? Some endings aren’t cliffhangers, but they’re still terribly sad endings, and that’s okay (I mean, I think, this is all personal opinion)… if it’s the right ending for the book.

But obviously, some kinds of endings aren’t OK—some endings break the unspoken compact between reader and writer. We’ve all read books and felt righteously angry about the ending.

So let’s discuss what kinds of unresolved endings are OK, in my opinion (and obviously, my word is not law, I am not the queen of cliffhangerlandia, unless someone wants to present me with a sparkly tiara shaped like a cliff edge… anyone? No? No, that’s cool…)

It’s not OK to write a book that says: well, not that much happened in this book, we cut off right where things were getting interesting, hope you enjoyed this book-long trailer for book two! A book should tell a story complete in itself, a book should always have fun and interesting stuff in it, and a book should obey its rules: should fulfill the promise it makes to the reader.

For instance, Unspoken is a Gothic mystery. The mystery in this novel is twofold: a) what the hell is the spooky family in the sinister manor’s DEAL, and b) who is doing all these murders?

I felt like I would be cheating my readers if I did not tell them what was up, and who dunnit. And I did.

I did not, however, feel like I had to remove the danger from my characters’ lives, or feel like I had to leave them in a good place emotionally. This is a trilogy, after all… if everything is wrapped up in book one, what are we doing with the next two books?

There are rules for this sort of thing. In a mystery novel, you find out who dunnit. In a romance novel, the main couple have to get together. In a literary novel, you come to some realisation about the meaning of life. (Possibly that life is meaningless.)

I also feel that you can’t have a fake-out cliffhanger: whatever you have put out there to horrify your readers, you can’t go ‘lol sorry takesies backsies.’ It’s not OK to end with ‘WHO COULD BE OUTSIDE THE DOOR?! WHAT DREAD EVIL AWAITED?!’ and start the next book with ‘Hello chaps,’ said Freddie. ‘I wondered if I could borrow a cup of sugar?’

If you make the reader expect something, you have to pay it off. You can’t put the cliffhanger on the mantelpiece and not use it. There have to be real consequences for something you made your readers really care about. (And in Untold, I promise there will be. ;))

And of course, in every book, the characters have to make emotional sense. Which doesn’t mean the characters can never surprise you. But it has to be the kind of surprise when you look back on who they are and what they have done previously, and go: yes, actually that does make sense. The writer has to play fair.

So, I said I like cliffhangers—I like bad things to happen, I like a brave choice, I like my heart to hurt over fictional people, for a bit! Let’s have an example of a real cliffhanger.

Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning ends on a cliffhanger: the heroine vilely imprisoned, one of her comrades dead, the others in imminent peril she cannot warn them about! And then the book just ends! You want to shake it until more story falls out. Readers, among them myself, were horrified and stricken. I personally basically assaulted a bookseller with an advance copy. Yep, I stole the sequel. Not sorry!

Notably, when the second book in the series, the Awakening, came out, it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. I’m just saying, obviously some people like cliffhangers OK. And I am among them.

As I mentioned above, books are about torment, and dreadful things happening to people. You sit there going ‘Augh, my BABY! Oh no, what will happen next? I am so embarrassed I want to DIE! Oh no please don’t! Oh yes please do! Kiss, kiss, kiss! OH NO SAVE MY BABIES!’ (Oh, um, you guys don’t do that? It’s just me? Excuse me, I’ve, uh, just remembered that I have an appointment…)

I remember being at a party with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black: Cassie was thinking about reader response to the end of her book that had just come out, Clockwork Prince.
CASSIE: They’re all really upset!
HOLLY: Of course they’re upset! You made them upset. You did it on purpose. You took their hearts, and you turned them into ice, and you CRUSHED them, and you poured the crushed ice into a martini glass, and then you MADE THEM DRINK IT!!!!!
SARAH: Would that be called a heartini…?
Everybody threw napkins at me, as I recall.

But I also recall thinking, gosh, what an amazing compliment all those people being really upset is! Over a story, over people you made up in your head. I thought to myself, it would be great if I got to upset people that much someday.

I did it to myself, you see…

I didn’t think Clockwork Prince, the second book of a trilogy, ended on a cliffhanger either. Danger is lurking but not imminent, and nobody has a big decision to make or anything: but at least one character is Very Upset, and the readers are upset for them. And that, to me, is wonderful.

I did something… a bit like that. In that nobody is in immediate danger, but at least one person is very, very sad. How to explain this without spoiling it? I wanted to have a situation that was untenable, in which something had to break, and in which people, being who they were, could do nothing else in this situation than what they do. The whole book shows the situation spiralling out of control, until something had to give, and showed that things would not go well once it did. It felt like the only right ending.

A lot of people reacted very strongly to the book. And I have to say, I really liked that! The opposite of love is not hatred, it is apathy and indifference: you never, ever want to write the book that makes people go ‘Eh. It was… whatsface… it was okay, I guess. *yawn*’

And many people seem to have, not to be toot my own pain-causing horn, quite enjoyed themselves. Just today I was vouchsafed this kind tribute via my twitter:
@sarahreesbrenna is a brilliant evil reader torturer extraordinaire. She makes me scream in delight and crushes my heart simultaneously. 
I have also been called evil, and asked ‘what is wrong with you!... in a good way.’ I’ve never had this kind of reaction before and I SUPER appreciate it! People have even made warning posters.


I have taken to representing myself on tumblr as a succession of Disney’s evil queens. It’s fun, the shared pain for characters but also the knowledge that, well, it’s cool to have so many feelings about fiction, and to have other people share it with you. (Even if what my beauteous readers are sharing is… how I have tormented them…)

Unspoken is not a fairytale romance. There’s a lot of potential romance, and the book was written because I was thinking about ideas and ideals of romance, and how characters fit together, but they’re mostly seventeen, messed up and still at the beginning of their emotional journey. Some people are going to want to travel the long road with them and see where they end up, some people aren’t, and that’s okay! Some people, when upset by a book, are going to just go ‘NO, BAD, TERRIBLE, AWFUL, NO GOOD!’ They’re mad because, wow, you UPSET them… and that’s a great compliment! (Even though sometimes it makes you sit and fret about your book!)

Here’s the thing: you can’t write your book to please people, you can’t write it to be commercial. (I mean I guess you can do both those things but I think it’s a bad idea personally. Everyone else: YOU’RE a bad idea personally, Sarah Rees Brennan.) You have to write the story you feel called to tell, be as true to it as you can be, and try to make people feel like it’s true.

Seeing people have feeeeeelings about the end of Unspoken makes me feel like I did something right.

What we all want, we think as we read books, is for everything to work out and for everyone to be happy. But we’re lying to ourselves: if that happened, the story would be over. (Not that I don’t believe in characters being happy and having fun sometimes, because as you can perhaps tell at this point, I would make jokes at a funeral, and until characters make me laugh they can never make me cry.) You can end in a happy place. You can end in a sad place. You should end with some answers. But everything being neatly tied up shouldn’t happen in book one, unless it’s the only book there will ever be. Even then, while there are some things you need to tie up, not everything has to be tied up: you want the sense that life will keep happening.

The sense of danger must not disappear.

The suspense is terrible, I think in the words of Oscar Wilde, as I hang from my cliff. I hope it will last.

Whether you like cliffhangers or not, and what you think is a cliffhanger, is up to you. Whether you think the ending of Unspoken is a cliffhanger, and if you like it… well, you’ll have to read it and let me know.

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A huge thank you to Sarah for her time! I hope you all enjoyed reading this post as much as I did. What are your thoughts on cliffhangers? And if you've read Unspoken, what did think about the ending? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below - just keep them spoiler-free! 

73 comments:

  1. Such a great and hilarious post! Reading the author talk like this make me want to pick up Unspoken right now, as I'm VERY curious what the thing with the ending is all about. :D

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    1. I love Sarah's witty style! Wait 'til you meet Kami, the main character. She is adorably quirky and impossible not to like. :)

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  2. I had fun reading this post. And......I need to read this book asap. :) This book is making a buzz in the blogging world.

    -Dannielle

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    1. I hope you get the chance to soon, Dannielle. It's honestly one of my favourite reads of the year. I'm still thinking about all of the characters. :)

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  3. Love the post! I actually finish 'Unspoken' early in the morning, and by morning i mean 1:00 am. I couldn't stop reading it! I adore EVERYTHING about it and the ending is perfect!

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    1. Ha! It's definitely one of those books to comfortably forgo sleep for. ;) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  4. I. Love. This. Post. Seriously. I do.

    Actually, I realize how biased that is since I love EVERYTHING Brennan writes, even if it's an Ode to Physics, BUT, this post is awesome.

    Sam, if anyone knows how distraught I was by the end of this novel, it's you, but SRB is right - it ISN'T a cliffhanger. Neither was Clockwork Prince. Instead, they're emotional hangers which are even WORSE because instead of wondering what happens next, you're left to have your emotions played with for MONTHS ON END! Still, I've actually come to really enjoy the ending of Unspoken, now that I've gone back and re-read the last few chapters and really thought about everything. I think it's the perfect segway into Untold and I'm SO excited to see where Kami and Jared's relationship goes. (Clockwork Prince, on the other hand, is an ending I will NEVER comes to terms with. EVER. And Cassie posted a teaser from Clockwork Princess and OH MY GOD I can't even...WILL! This is off topic now...) Anyway, my point is, SRB is STILL evil and even though she didn't write a cliffhanger, what she did write was emotionally manipulative, but I still love her. And her book. (OH, you need to ask her when Untold ARCs are coming out, by the way! I will move to Antarctica if it means I can get one. Yes, I will turn into a penguin for that book. ANYTHING!)

    Anywayyyyy, I love this post, Sam! It's definitely my favorite author post on your blog to date, so thanks for sharing! ;)

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    1. I reckon Sarah could pull off the best Ode to Physics, don't you think? ;)

      I have also re-read the last few pages obsessively recently and feel slightly differently about the ending now. At first, I considered it a cliffhanger - maybe because I was so overwhelmed by my emotions and completely stuck in the moment. Looking back on it now though, I agree that it's a brilliant bit of emotional manipulation and not necessarily a traditional cliffhanger. I also, surprisingly, LOVE that I was able to react so strongly to it, even though much of that reaction was pain. :) (But let's not talk about Clockwork Prince!)

      I will turn into a penguin also if it means getting hold of Untold.

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  5. I had so much fun reading this post, loved it! Thanks so much for sharing this with us! Me personally I love to hate cliffhangers! I really, really need to read Unspoken already.... :)

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    1. I love to hate them too... though most of the time, I secretly like that an author can even manage to make me feel that emotion. :)

      And yes, you do! I will buy you a copy if I have to. :P

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  6. This post totally makes me wanna read the book :)

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    1. I'm glad! You should - I think you'd like it, Henrietta. :)

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  7. Wow :) I haven't read Unspoken, but I think I like cliffhangers. They make the story even more incredible :) I just hate them in Cassandra Clare's books because she takes us to this rollercoaster of emotions and then she does something big awful and then she finish the book and THEN she says we need to wait A freaking YEAR for the next book. THIS is what I hate :P :) :P

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    1. It definitely gives us something to talk about if they are done well. I think the waiting is what can turn them into a negative thing. Sometimes it's difficult, to say the least, to have to wait in anguish for MONTHS before finding out what happens next. I reckon it would be easier to appreciate them as clever and powerful devices if we weren't left hanging for so long. :)

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  8. I think you're an evil genius, Sarah! I was upset with where the characters ended up but I had fun along the way, a lot of fun. And I wouldn't have been so upset if I didn't care for the characters and that is a sign of great writing. I agree, Unspoken didn't end in a cliffhanger in the truest sense, but it was an emotional cliffhanger, which to me are worse. I will be picking up the sequel as soon as it comes out, so hopefully you'll take some pity on our poor hearts and give us what we want for at least some of the book.

    Lovely post, Sarah and Sam! Thank you! :)

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    1. I completely agree, Rachel! It's definitely a great thing that we are even reacting to the ending as it shows just how much we came to care for the characters.

      Hopefully things will go our way in book 2 though. ;)

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  9. Hm, I am one of those people who are like UGH CLIFFHANGERS but this is certainly an interesting post about it! I never thought about cliffhangers that way and it makes me examine them differently. I doubt I would ever be like I <3 cliffhangers but it's nice to know an author's process about it. Thanks for this post!

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    1. This post made me look quite differently at the Unspoken ending in particular, and I'm glad it did. I agree with you - I'll never be declaring my unwavering love for cliffhangers, but it is nice to understand it from an author's perspective. :)

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  10. It's a shame that Sarah has to defend herself, even though most complaints do seem to be said in jest, not with malice, but still it's *her* book and she can end it however she pleases. She's not the only one to end books with cliffhangers and I do agree that people tend to think an ending is a cliffhanger when it's not really.

    Anyway, I have read SO many good reviews of Unspoken and I can't wait to read it :D Thanks for having Sarah on the blog today, Sam, she sounds like a pretty cool person ;)

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    1. I agree, Mandee. She can do whatever she wants with it and she completely should! :) I don't think people are getting ANGRY angry - not in an unfair sort of way where they declare the book awful because of it - but it seems to be that most people are just a little shocked. And I always think if an author can cause a strong reaction like that then it is a good thing. :)

      Thanks for weighing in! I really hope you do read Unspoken. It's such a special book. :)

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  11. Well it is nice to hear her thoughts on the ending. I hated it but I didn't make a big deal about it. I am just not a fan of cliffhangers period. Thanks for sharing, Sam.

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    1. I know you weren't a fan, but I'm glad you enjoyed hearing Sarah's thoughts. Thanks, Heidi. :)

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  12. Aaah, this is like the perfect post on cliffhangers! I whine about them a lot but... I secretly like the torment ;) That said, I do agree that Clockwork Prince and Unspoken didn't have cliffhanger endings. EVIL, yes! But cliffhanger? Not really. BUT EVIL, YES. EVIL. EVIL. EEEEEEVIL. (Mostly because I was just devastated that it was over, haha)

    And aaaaaahhhhhhhhh, The Golden Compass! SO TRUE. That was the biggest 'WTH' moment.

    Thank you to both you lovely ladies for sharing! :) That was so entertaining and interesting to read.

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    1. I'm with you, Sonia! I am forever complaining about them and how evil the authors are, but I do sometimes enjoy the torment too. ;)

      Thanks, Sonia! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  13. I hate cliffhangers. I don't mind things left a bit open for the series to continue but I do hate when a book ends right in the middle of action with nothing answered. I feel like I wasted my time reading an entire book to get nowhere. I haven't read Unspoken so I can't comment if it ends on a cliffhanger but Clockwork Prince definitely didn't. And my heart was no broken. That was one of the happiest books I have ever read! I was left very satisfied with the progression of Jem and Tessa! hehe

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    1. Oh I know how much of a Jem fan you are. ;) I can imagine how different YOUR reaction to the ending might have been. I agree - Clockwork Prince's ending wasn't a cliffhanger in the traditional sense but more something HUGE that was left open for the next book. Similar in a way to Unspoken's ending.

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  14. Fantastic post. Personally I hate cliffhangers because I have to wait longer for the next book or if it's a standalone book it means I have to ask others what the hell happened, but for the most part I love cliffhangers too because it gets you thinking about what's going to happen next, you know? It's the best part in books . . . even if it kills you. :)

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    1. Cliffhangers in a stand-alone are a definite NO for me. I have never come across one and I never want to either! I'm the sort of reader who needs to know what happens next. That's why cliffhangers can be so excruciating sometimes, but at least in a series I will eventually get the next book. It's the waiting that hurts! :D

      I love that part, predicting what will happen next. I always like to convince myself a nice happily ever after awaits once the author has had some fun. ;)

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  15. Like Erin, I personally hate cliffhangers since I usually have to wait for another year before I can read the sequel but I absolutely understand why authors use them in their books! BUT the cliffhanger in Clockwork Prince surprised me and I NEED Clockwork Princess so badly!

    Awesome post, Sam ♥ Thanks for sharing with us!

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    1. I think a lot of people are waiting for Clockwork Princess. I'm terrified that it will break my heart, though! I guess time will tell. ;)

      Thanks for stopping by, Celine!

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  16. Awesome post, thank you very much. Both of you. I'm a fan of cliffhanger endings, btw. ;)

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    1. Yay! Glad you like them. :) And thank you!

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  17. Wow, what a wonderful post! I personally don't *mind* cliffhangers...I think some are perfect for the ending of a book, while others just annoy the hell out of me. I haven't read Kelley Armstrong's The Summoning nor Clockwork Prince yet...but I'm seriously scared to read them now :S MY EMOTIONS!!!!!! But yeah..I think an author has done a fantastic job with her book if readers react strongly to the book :) I'll definitely be reading Unspoken now! Sarah's post is so hilarious<3 LOVE it<3

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    1. Don't be worried! The endings do pack a punch, but the books are great to read. Though you might want to wait closer to the release of Clockwork Princess before starting. ;) I agree with you. If the author can even create that response, it shows they are doing something right. I can't wait to see what you'll think of Unspoken. :)

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  18. Ahhh this is such an awesome post Sam and Sarah, I feel so out of the loop as I haven't read Unspoken yet, but I've heard so much about the cliffhanger at the end. I'm usually one to say I dislike cliffhangers, but if I spend sometime thinking about it I don't really think that I do, I like my books to leave me in mess of emotions and to be on my mind all the time, and I've come to realise that books that end with cliffhangers are the best ones that can trigger these sort of emotions. So honestly I don't mind them at all, it's just the thoroughly long wait afterwards for the next book that I can't deal with. Also this line "I like my heart to hurt over fictional people, for a bit!" I love it! :)

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    1. You haven't read Unspoken? What are you waiting for?! :) I'm positive you'll like it, Jasprit. I am always first to jump in and say I dislike cliffhangers, but sometimes I do appreciate them. Like you said, if a ending can trigger those emotions, it is a good thing. It shows just how invested we were in the characters or whatever was happening.

      I love that line too. It reflects my feelings on the matter pretty well. :)

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  19. I don't mind an ending that leaves things open for the next book, but cliffhangers usually make me nervous. I agree that the authors should focus primarily on the story they want to tell, but a cliffhanger always makes me thing exactly the opposite - that instead of finishing the story, they're already trying to sell the next book. And that sort of makes me angry.
    I agree with most of what Sarah said, though. And I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

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    1. I understand what you mean, Maja. I actually think some authors use cliffhangers better than others. If we're talking 5th book into a series and it ends on a cliffhanger, you have to start to suspect that the author might be simply trying to make sure the reader will buy the next instalment.

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed this post!

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  20. I for one have a love-hate relationship with cliffhangers. I LOVE them, because I love that moment when my heart nearly leaps out of my chest because the ending of the book is so shocking, and leaves me in a state of shock for the next couple of days (or weeks)... but then I HATE them because, obviously, it's not yet resolved, and often is the case that I need to wait for the next book to come out...and that's usually like in a year or something.
    Thanks for the great post! I have to read Broken soon... it sounds so good! :D

    Rabiah @ Confessions of a Readaholic

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    1. That heart-stopping moment can definitely make the reading experience exciting. I love that a book can remain in my thoughts for so long because of it... but yes, the waiting is awful. ;)

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  21. I haven't read her book yet, but I'm definitely planning to! Sometimes, cliffhangers can work. Sometimes, they feel so.. forced. This was very interesting and fun to read, thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm glad you are - I can't wait to see what you think of it! Thanks for stopping by, Mel. :)

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  22. Call me masochistic if you want, but I actually LIKED the ending to this book. Yeah, it was bittersweet and disheartening but it made me feel. And it definitely made me want to read book two. Also, I kind of agree that it wasn't a cliffhanger. The action didn't just stop. It wrapped up with some loose ends. And in my eyes, that is not a cliffhanger. That is a continuing story arc. Anyway, I loved this post. It was great to hear how the author felt about all the hubbub surrounding her book.

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    1. I liked that it made me react so strongly too... though I was pretty heartbroken and angry at the time. ;) Now that I've had time to recover, I can appreciate it fully. I can't wait to see what happens next.

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  23. Hej Sam,
    the book sounds very interesting. (:
    I'm writing this because I'm going to delete my blog (Reading without Ending). You can find me at www.lesenohneende.blogspot.de . There are some english reviews and there will be english reviews, but there are also german reviews.
    Thanks for reading my (old) blog.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know, Lia!

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  24. What a fantastic post Sam and Sarah! I'm not a huge fan of cliffhangers in theory, but without fail, in reality they work for me every time in that they have me salivating for the next book and I'm either at the bookstore or on my Kindle the minute the next book comes out because I have to know what happens next. I particularly liked the bit about the girl she knew liking to have her heart hurt a little - that's definitely me. I like the books that leave me gasping for breath and heart cracked and bleeding even as I hate them for making me feel that pain:)

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    1. They definitely do what they're supposed to, even if we are momentarily grumpy about it. ;) I'm the same way too. I need to know what happens next and will always read the sequel as soon as it comes out.

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  25. Hahaha! This is a funny but definitely a fantastic post. I think I agree with Sarah's point about cliffhangers and although I'm not really a fan of them, when I look back at the books I've read with cliffhangers I realized that most of them were on my favorite series. Series that I have loved and adored. And even though some of those cliffhangers left my heart broken and crushed I guess some part of me really appreciate it, cause then I realized that it made me feel so much emotion and it gives me more reason to wait for the next book. Then when you get to the best part it was actually quite rewarding. :)

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    1. Funny that you mention that. Most of my favourite books and series have left me crushed and in pain, but I guess that's a part of the magic, in a very strange sort of way.

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  26. Aargh, I need to read Unspoken! This was such. An amazing. Post. I do like cliffhangers as long as they're not truly evil and they make sense, and then get resolved in the next book. If written properly they do make me care about the characters that much more, and that's what counts. It sounds stupid, but sometimes I don't mind having my heart broken; sometimes an unhappy ending is what makes the most sense. Awesome post, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh definitely, they MUST be resolved in the next book. No one wants to wait a year or so for the sequel only to find they are in for more waiting!

      And I completely understand what you mean. Heart break over fictional people is sort of... comforting, if that makes sense. These feelings remind me why I love to read. :)

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  27. Love, love, love this post! I'm one of the few people who ADORED the ending of Unspoken (I still think it was one of the most brilliant), and now I love Ms. Brennan even more. Thank you so much, Sam! <3

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you liked it, Michele. :) I do think the ending was clever but I probably won't be declaring my love for it until I find out what happens next. :D

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  28. I think you mostly know how I feel about this book Sam. I loved it, but the ending, aarrgghh. But yet I totally see Sarah's point in what she's saying, and she says it with such wit lol. I really enjoyed this post Sam and Sarah, thank you for giving us your insight on cliffhangers :)

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    1. I do know, but you're right, Sarah says it so well it's hard not to listen to her. ;) Glad you enjoyed Sarah's insight!

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  29. I loved this post. I'm fine with cliffhangers as long as I feel fulfilled in what I just read. I absolutely get what she's saying about it making you FEEL something, because it does. Honestly, I think it's a damn good sign if you get to the end and have a strong reaction, wanting to know more.

    I need to read this!

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    1. I agree with that. I wouldn't want to read a book and get to the end to find I haven't gained anything from it because it ended too abruptly. With Unspoken, we do find out the important parts before the end, so I'm glad about that. :)

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  30. Amazing post Sam!! Ah, I loved Unspoken to death. And I have to say I'm not very fond of cliffhangers, unless of course it is done right where it makes me want to pull my hair out for the next book (in a good way of course), but it does get tiring if every book ends off with a cliffhanger, you know? But I do enjoy the torment too! I don't think Unspoken left off on a cliffhanger, probably more like a shocking WTF just happened!? type of ending for sure and although it devastated me, I loved it. Like the Untold snippet that SRB posted, I loved it and hated it all at the same time, lol. SRB certainly made me feel things in Unspoken so I'm super super dying to read Untold even if I end up crying or going crazy or something. And LOL, I'm the one that tweeted to her that she was a "brilliant evil reader torturer extraordinaire.." Hahaha. ;)

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    1. If every book in a series ended with a cliffhanger, it might start to come across a little forced. That, I don't like either! Too much of a good (or bad, depending where you stand!) thing, you know? ;)

      Oh don't get me started on the Untold snippet! And I thought the ending of Unspoken would leave me traumatised... ;)

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  31. Oh man, if I hadn't read Unspoken, I would have definitely read it after this post. It's thoughtful and yet Brennan's humour still manages to shine through!

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    1. Isn't that the brilliant thing about her writing? It's so very entertaining and full of depth too. It's one of the reasons I loved Unspoken as much as I did. :)

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  32. BAHAHHA! This post is made of win and thank you. THANK YOU.

    There is a BIG difference between unresolved questions and subplots in a series, choices to be made, etc, and ending a book in a place where the characters are left in imminent peril. Has anyone read Faefever (Fever #3) by Karen Marie Moning? THAT is a cliffhanger. As is Beautiful Chaos (Garcia/Stohl). And and and... OK, so now I'm DYING to read Unspoken.

    Actually, I was dying to read it before. What's the more extreme version of dying? :D

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    1. There is a big difference, I agree. That's partly why the Unspoken ending might not be considered a cliffhanger for many people. It's definitely why I changed my mind about it.

      Now that you're practically beyond death, you might want to save yourself and pick it up. ;)

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  33. so many comments. anyway, awesome post! This was very interesting. I haven't read Unspoken YET but I do plan too. I like cliffhangers for the most part. Yeah, they drive me nuts sometimes but they are fun and make me really interested in getting the next book. I want certain things wrapped up, for sure, but I like having a CLEAR reason to keep reading.

    And great point Sarah about wanting a book that affected people so strongly, even if they are mad about the ending. It just means they want MORE and that truly is a compliment. :)

    -Lauren

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    1. I'm glad you found this post interesting. I can't wait to see what you think of Unspoken once you've read it. And if you are a fan of that kind of torture, I think you might really like the ending. ;)

      Thanks for stopping by, Lauren.

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  34. I admit I didn't read this post (A) Just a few things ;p Since I still haven't read Unspoken. But I want to. But not until the sequel is out, considering I have peeked at the ending (A) lol. And I was not happy with the ending at all. I mean, sure, I can handle that kind of romance torture. It is 100 times better than a goddamn triangle. But still. At the end of the book?! Not happy about that. So yeah, not reading Unspoken until the sequel is out :D Still, thank you for sharing, Sam. <3 :)

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    1. It is a cruel and torturous ending so I don't blame you. ;) Hopefully once you have book two in your hands you can go back and enjoy the first one properly knowing what will happen next. :)

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  35. Great posts, I personally didn't think it had a big cliffhanger, unresolved questions yes, cliffhanger ..no

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  36. Great post! Believe it or not, I actually didn't know where the term 'cliffhanger' came from, so it was nice to be enlightened. ;) I haven't read UNSPOKEN yet, so I didn't quite read till the end of the post for fear of spoilers, but I must admit that this post has me intrigued! I shall have to check out more of it.

    Thanks for sharing, Sam and Sarah!

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  37. Vivian the Spirit says: Wow, this is a fantastic guest post!! I'm still waiting for my copy of Unspoken, so I only read the first half of this post, in case I'd understand it a bit better after reading the book. I really agree with the points put out there, though! I enjoy cliffhangers (even though they cause immense pain), but it's great that she pointed out that some do really break the connection between the book and the readers!

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing post! <3 POOF!

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  38. What an interesting and funny post! I am beyond entertained! Plus, I HATE Cliffhangers too. You just never know, what's going to happen next...not that predictability is good or anything, but there is just something about cliffhangers that is very nerve wrecking! *shudder* I have heard of Unspoken but I never paid much attention to it....but I am convinced I need to read this NOW!

    Thanks for sharing Sam! Wonderful post! :D

    ~ Maida @ Literary Love Affair

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