Everybody loves happy endings, and though they can be bittersweet at times, some authors are able to weave just the perfect kind of finale to keep it real and satisfying. So what’s one of the worst things that authors can do to take away from a good ending?
In my opinion, it’s the need to give each and every one of their characters a happy ending, particularly in the form of a romantic partner. The best example I can think of is Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. I love this series – right down to the fantastic writing, characters, dialogue, world building and Jamie Campbell Bower as my Jace.
But the one thing about the series that I couldn’t quite get over was the fact that literally every character that matters in this book (aside from the villains) ends up with a significant other. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Exhibit A: Clary Fray is torn between Shadowhunter Jace Wayland and best friend Simon Lewis. Since Simon was never really in the running to begin with, Clary chooses Jace, leaving Simon with a broken heart…
So what happens next?
Exhibit B: Eventually, Simon has to choose between Shadowhunter Isabelle Lightwood and werewolf Maia Roberts. Since Maia was never really in the running to begin with, Simon’s relationship with Isabelle deepens leaving the poor girl all alone.
Exhibit C: Cassandra Clare introduces Jordan Kyle, a new character who doesn’t really serve much purpose to the story but to be extremely sexy and paired with Maia after Simon’s focus shifts to Isabelle.
Exhibit D: Well, there’s nobody left for this particular love tree. But don’t forget that Alec had initially loved Jace before Clary showed up. But no way was Clare going to leave a character loveless in this seemingly perfect world of Shadowhunters, warlocks and demons. Enter Magnus Bane, the yin to Alec’s yang and truthfully my favorite couple next to Clary and Jace. But I think the pairing should have ended there.
My point is, it’s one big circle of romance – so carefully crafted that the chances of everyone falling in love with one another is almost like a season of Gossip Girl. Too perfect, too lucky and almost like fan fiction — a fantasy within a fantasy. At some point, my realistic expectations get in the way, love squares or not. And having everyone paired off feels too childish. The truth is I think many YA readers are mature enough to deal with storylines that don’t necessarily end with rainbows and unicorns.
I’m all for happy endings, but I wouldn’t mind seeing jilted lovers, broken minds and even death amidst our characters from time to time. I think these are some things that we as readers should be challenged to cope with — as much as it can be painful. Regardless, I’m a sucker for great romance plus epic storylines so as long as I have those two components, I’ll always be on board!
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