Beginning to End and Back Again
I always remember exactly what was happening around me when I finished any series. I remember where I was and the time I finished; I remember the weather that day; I remember exactly how many times my siblings interrupted my reading. This is odd, because I usually block out anything and everything when I read. The incredible emotional impact that last book has just seems to heighten the senses.
For instance, when Mockingjay came out, after it took me a week to secure my copy because of preorder mess-ups at Barnes & Noble, I was devouring my copy in a deprived frenzy — until I reached the death of a certain character. After that, I remember I had to leave the book for a few hours to comfort myself with chocolate ice cream. When I returned, I curled up on the edge of my bed and sniffled through the end as the evening sun crept into my room.
There was also the Chaos Walking trilogy, which I read last year — I finished that on a Friday after school. That day, I remember that a friend had braided my hair, which I usually kept long and loose. But I spent four hours in bed later, messing up my new hairstyle, tossing and turning and finally sobbing through the last thirty pages. My sister knocked on the door to ask if I was alright. So when I stumbled out of my room around nine that night, my head still swimming with thoughts of the end, I told her I absolutely was not.
The Hunger Games and Chaos Walking both had endings with sad elements, but they weren’t the only parts of their finales that affected me so much. In general, to me, finishing a young adult series feels like finishing a piece of that part of my life — a little bit of my youth disappears into those books when I’m done. I can always go back, as I’ve done with many books, to revisit the stories and revisit those years, but it’s always a reminder of time that’s passed.
I get this feeling with any book I’ve grown fond of, but with YA books especially, the feeling is stronger. Perhaps that’s because I’m still in that stage of my life — the sense of its passing is still so immediate to me. From beginning to end, the entirety of the journey of any YA series has been spent in this stage of my life, too, so I can almost measure myself in terms of the books.
But making it to the end of a series is a happy thing, too. It’s not just about the passage of time; of course, as readers, we want to know how the series ends. We want to know how the characters have finally grown along with us. For instance, I know that even though I was a mess after Monsters of Men, physically and emotionally, I was still in an almost delirious state of happiness. The sadness had hit first, but a little later came a sense of triumph, one I felt for the characters and for me. They had completed their journey, and so had I.
Finishing a series certainly carries a bittersweet feeling — I’m happy to know what happens to the characters, but sad to let go of them because doing so almost makes me feel like I’m letting go of the time of my life I spent with them, especially if I read the books from the beginning of the series’s publication. But as a reader, I do what I do best — well, we do what we do best. We keep reading. Because there’s always another chapter to begin.
– Annie N., 11th grade, currently reading Fyre by Angie Sage