Thursday, August 26, 2010

Whatcha Thinking Thursday (1)

So I'm starting a new meme. I haven't seen anything like this so I don't think I'm stepping on anyones toes. Of course, I do not read every book blog out there so if someone knows of the meme going on somewhere else, please let me know!

With that out of the way- here's how this will work. Each Thursday I'll simply blog about something book related that's weighing on my mind. Feel free to comment away if you agree or disagree (just keep it clean, okay?), or if you want to post to your site either on the same topic or about whatever it is you're thinking about go right ahead. I just ask that you link back to here. Also- make sure you add your blog to the list so we can find you too!
So without further ado, I'm thinking about epilogues.

Yup. Epilogues. I finished two books on Tuesday. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. I was already in love with Collins' Hunger Games books, so it is no surprise that I loved Mockingjay as well (review here). On the flip side, I'd never read anything by Pearce, and going up against Mockingjay is a pretty tough match, but I have to say, I really enjoyed Sisters Red as well. There was really only one thing that seperated the two in my mind. The epilogue.

To be upfront, I hate epilogues. I hated it in Harry Potter, hated it in Perfect Chemistry (Simone Elkeles) and I hated it in Mockingjay. Here's my arguement against the epilogue. It's such a let down. We've just spent an entire book, or in some case 7 entire books, living with these charecters. Laughing with them, crying with them, hurting with them and unltimately loving them. In many cases the book ends with a triumph of some kind, an overcoming of previously insurmountable odds and then suddenly it's 20 years later and everyone is happy and isn't it wonderful. I feel like it cheapens the lives that I know they must have had in the interim. I get that it is a way to give us a peak into the future, to let us know that they are all okay, but it still just doesn't work for me. To condense it to 3-4 happy pages seems inadequate, and I inevitable feel let down, dissapointed. These books are books that I love, and they end in a way that doesn't do the writing and charecters justice. Yet, I continue to see epilogues tacked on there at the end, like an afterthought to the brilliance that came before. It's tantamount to another device I dislike. Why not just end the book with "and they all lived happily ever after" and call it a day?

I was beginning to think that a good epilogue was impossible, and then I finished Sisters Red (review here), and there it was, a good epilogue. Why was it good? In my opinion it was good because it didn't make any giant leaps into the future, I didn't feel I missed anything. The epilogue jumps about 7 months forward to point where our three fenris hunters, Scarlett, Rose and Silas are just beginning to get their lives back on track, to find their own place in the world. We see them heading out into the world and are left to wonder what will happen next without wondering what it is that happened between the end of the story and the point at which the epilogue begins.

So that's what I'm thinking about. How about you? Epilogue love or epilogue hate? Or, do you have something totally different on your mind?


  1. I'm indifferent about epilogues, but I tend to put them into my stories. I don't think a book should have a prologue if there is no epilogue and vice versa. I find it weird when there is one and not the other. Where's the balance in that?

    Anyway, I think epilogues shouldn't really "complete" the story either. I think they are a great tool to use when you do want to jump far into the future. I think they are great to use to give the reader a little more imagination into how the characters went on with their new lives. Like in Harry Potter, yeah, it seemed they all got their happily ever after (except those who died of course), but still, you can speculate if Harry did actually go on the hunt for evil wizards, etc. I just got Mockingjay, so I won't say anything on that one yet, I am just getting to it. :)

    One of my stories I'm writing right now has a prologue that starts three years before the story really begins. In the epilogue it's going to be a year or so after the story ends. Because that's it. The story just ends. Now if I go ahead and get it published, you can still speculate, like I want the reader to do. But also if I threw the epilogue in there, you can tell that yeah, the character is pretty happy in the future, but something is possible in happening again in the future (or sequel if I decide to write one of those).

    Also, if the book is a stand alone and has no cliff hanger ending, then the epilogue is the finishing touch. Like in My Sister's Keeper. It is absolutely the finishing touch. (I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet). But it's the ending that makes your heart wrench more but with sadness and happiness. The epilogue really was a the end of the story.

    And I like this meme! It's fun!

  2. Thanks! Interesting thoughts about having a prologue and epilogue going together. I suppose I never thought of it, but it makes sense. I think that maybe how the epilogue is written makes a difference too. Is is a summary of the years in the middle, a moment in time far in the future, or an update from a time not so far in the future.

  3. I am indifferent to epilogues, but if I were to choose a side, I would then say that for the most part, I do not mind them. In many cases, it helps me with final closure, but there have been several cases that I did think it was unnecessary, as if it were an afterthought. Again though, I could do without them but am pretty okay with them...indifferent. ;)

    By the way: Whatcha Thinking is a good meme idea. Are your thoughts going to be random, and not just books? or only thoughts based on books?

  4. An afterthought it a good way to describe some of the epilogues. Likes it there just for the sake of being there. I feel like now that I've had this little rant, I will probably be more aware of epilogues in the future.

    Right now, since I'm blogging and reading alot, and I'm school to be a librarian, I'm thinking it will be geared towards books, but who knows. If something comes out of a book that gets me thinking about something else, I'll probably just go for it!

    If you blog and want to participate though, you certainly aren't confined to only thinking about the topics I post! (that would be odd I think)

  5. The majority of epilogues that I've read have been very disappointing. The one that first comes to mind is the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. To me, it negated the strong ending, and seemed to be there so that people would have no reason to ask for more books.

    However, in the series I'm reading now (Dark Hunters by Sherrilyn Kenyon), most of the books have short epilogues. These I've actually enjoyed. The generally look ahead just a few months, show how the happily-ever-after has lasted, and set up the context for the next book.

    If epilogues are going to be written, then I think that they should be planned, well-written, serve a purpose, and strengthen the ending. Otherwise, the book should stand on its own.