Can books with teaser endings ever be satisfactory?
Many readers have a love-hate relationship with books that end on a teaser aka where a question is posed that will only be answered in the next installment or a hint at a future quest is given. Why are some teasers well received while others are despised?
- Incomplete stories
- Loose end plot lines
- Unnatural teaser ending, created for the sole purpose of making the reader buy the next book in the series
However when done correctly a teaser can actually enhance the whole novel. The final scene or sentence can add to the story’s meaning and build excitement for the next installment.
Let’s examine a few books with great teasers and why these work. All of the books below are part of a series.
Warning: spoiler alert for ‘Shadow kissed’, ‘The winner’s crime, and ‘Firstlife’
Shadow kissed (Vampire Academy series, book 3) by Richelle Mead
“I set off, off to kill the man I loved.” Is the final sentence of the third installment in the Vampire Academy series. The ending of ‘Shadow kissed’ creates a split between the ‘safe’ Academy world where evil Strigoi lurk outside Moroi and dhampir protected spaces (for more information on Vampire Academy please click here & here) into the real, unprotected world swarming with Strigoi.
Up until the end of book 3, Dmitri guided Rose at the Academy. He was both her dhampir mentor and the man she loved. In book 4 she leaves the safety of the Academy behind to go into uncharted territory. She does so to kill not only the man she loves but also the man, who taught her everything and knows all of her tricks and maneuvers.
The teaser ending of ‘Shadow kissed’ does not detract from the novel. Instead it adds to it, the reason being that Dmitri turning Strigoi is not the plot of book 3. ‘Shadow kissed’ explores the partnerships Strigoi form with humans to break through Moroi shields and attack the campus, Rose’s ability to see ghosts, as well as her and Dmitri giving into their love and starting a romantic relationship.
Thus, the book tells a complete story. The ending foreshadows a new story, which deserves it’s own installment.
The winner’s crime (The winner’s curse trilogy, book 2) by Marie Rutkoski
Marie Rutkoski keeps with the tradition of ending on a teaser. In book 1 ‘The winner’s curse’ Kestrel agrees to become engaged to the emperor’s son, even though she loves Arin.
When readers reach the end of ‘The winner’s crime’ a second teaser awaits, this one more heart wrenching than the first one. After discovering that Kestrel was a spy for Arin and his people and thus betrayed the Empire, the emperor ships her off to a slave camp.
Once again this teaser only adds to the story. Book 2 deals with Kestrel trying to acquiesce to her engagement and her future life as the emperor’s wife. However, on the inside she’s still battling her feelings for Arin and her wish to help his nation. At the climax Kestrel acknowledges her love for Arin and she chooses morals over duty.
From the start the emperor had made it clear what will happen if Kestrel betrays him. Thus, when he discovers her treason, the reader is expecting the emperor to punish Kestrel severely.
Firstlife (Everlife series, book 1) by Gena Showalter
‘Firstlife’ is the first book in the Everlife series. Tenley, the protagonist needs to decide whether she wants to pledge her second life following her death to Troika or Myriad, two competing afterlife realms.
Throughout the book Tenley struggles to make a decision until she realizes the cost of her indecisiveness. After being mortally wounded in the final chapter, she pledges her life to Troika before dying.
Despite the teaser ending ‘Firstlife’ has a satisfying resolution. The main question of the book is what realm Tenley will chose for her afterlife and why it is so important to make a choice in the first place rather than remain undecided.
So, why are the teaser endings of ‘Shadow kissed’, ‘The winner’s crime’, and ‘Firstlife’ satisfying? In each instance the main question and obstacle posed at the beginning of the book is resolved in a satisfactory manner at the end. The teaser has nothing to do with the present story but is rather a hook for the next book.