Thursday, September 1, 2016
The bittersweet pain of cliffhangers - a ReadItTorial
I was served a glorious example of the bittersweet pain of cliffhangers in a recent beloved book series we've followed for a number of years. I'm not going to tell you which one, but if you've received a copy of the book to review recently you'll probably know exactly which book I'm talking about.
A recent TV show (I can mention the name of - "Stranger Things") also masterfully delivered a cliffhanger that left me rolling around on the floor begging for answers.
In fact, that's just it isn't it. We are now at the behest of creatives who are probably giggling their heads off because they (may) know the answers and are delightfully teasing us until their creative process is finished, and the next story (or series) is delivered.
In the meantime, the internet goes completely nutso with a zillion fan theories or analyses of the story or show, that are a bit like rubbing vinegar on a wound. You may receive some temporary relief but when the sting kicks in, you'll feel worse than you originally did.
So with the particular book I'm thinking of, it wasn't so much that the cliffhanger left both of us (Charlotte and I) sitting there, mouth agape thinking "WHAT THE FELLOWSHIP JUST HAPPENED!", it was that it was delivered in such a masterful way that kept you guessing right up until the very very last page.
Likewise in Stranger Things, the unanswered questions are as tantalisingly teasing as the answered ones. Without dipping into spoiler territory (though if you haven't seen Stranger Things, get yourself signed up for a Netflix trial just to binge-watch it, seriously do that thang!) again the cliffhanger and the unresolved fates of several key (beloved even) characters made us crave the next series, which could be...a year or more away? TV is never speedy nor is the delivery of a new book.
It's bittersweet pain though, bittersweet. We crave closure and completion but there's definitely something extremely satisfying in knowing that the rest of the world (other than the individual or teams working on the next book or series script) is also sharing and feeling the same pain.
The only thing I hate about cliffhangers is that whole spoiler thing. You have to practically become an outcast to avoid any potential spoilers once any new 'thing' arrives post-cliffhanger as there'll always be some smart alec ready to ruin the bittersweet pain of a cliffhanger by blaring out what happens next, just because they're pond scum!
Cliffhangers! Gotta love 'em and congratulations if you know which book we're on about and are feeling the same sting!