Also known as: the happily ever after. Here's the thing about HEAs, I like them, but only in a standalone, and usually a contemporary. If a trilogy is going to end with a HEA, then it just seems unrealistic because then there was obviously no progression if something didn't end or if someone didn't die. And even in a contemporary novel, there has to be evidence that the characters deserve it. Just because a book somehow ends happily with a perfect little ending, I need to believe that ending more than I believed the other part of the book.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is pretty much the perfect example of an HEA. The entire book was screaming "cute" so an HEA made sense. Obviously, if it was a dark, gritty contemporary, I would be giving WTF looks at the ending. So it also depends on the context of the book. For example, if Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry had a perfect ending, I would not have given it five stars.
The Open-Ended Ending
Open-ended endings kind of have meaningful ambiguity, where you don't really know what's going to happen next, and you have to interpret it for yourself. I like these endings a lot in standalone books, but I hate them as endings to trilogies or series. If I invested three to six books' worth of time and effort in your series, I want some kind of closure. I don't want the build-up to be for nothing, and especially not if you're not going to tie things up for me. If that were the case, then I would've just stopped after the first book.
The first book that comes to mind is Requiem by Lauren Oliver. I haven't read it, of course, but I've heard things about it, where it ended at the point where you had to infer what happened next, without any real clues. Correct me if I'm wrong, guys! Personally, if it's a conclusion to a series, I don't want a big gaping open-ended ending. Maybe one or two loose ends could be kept to feed our imaginations, but otherwise, it should be cut and dry obvious what happened.
The TV Show Ending
This is a really weird word this form of ending, but it's like when the body is found and the screen fades to black, and then the previews for next week's episodes start to roll. That's basically what this kind of ending is. It's sometimes confused for a cliffhanger, but it's not. This one, for me, is the broadest spectrum of endings, ranging from a, "Stay tuned for what happens next in this person's wild adventure!" to a, "You???" I think these kinds of endings only work well for first or second books in a series. Obviously, TV shows are supposed to continue, so it wouldn't make sense for a standalone to have that, or a series end.
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd is a perfect example because its ending was a TV show ending, where we were at this dramatic scene and then it faded to black. We didn't need to know anything except what happened to her next, and it introduced a new conflict and setting for the next book: her going back home and somehow reconnecting with the previous book.
The last ending I'm discussing today is the cliffhanger. For me, a cliffhanger is when a character is in the middle of making a serious decision, or in the middle of an action, and then we just cut off randomly. Yes, this could categorize under the TV show ending, since some TV shows do that. But typically cliffhangers and TV show endings are very alike. They both really build the drama aspect of a book, and leave you wanting more. They are one of the most affective endings for first and second books in a trilogy, but I find them to be so overused. I understand that an ending has to really catch you, but if you use the same dramatic, generic lines it starts to get old.
Obviously, that's just my opinion on cliffhangers, and sometimes these two endings can work out pretty well, but other times I really can't stand them. I can't think of an obvious cliffhanger at the moment, but maybe an example would be the character was just about to start a fight and it cut off.
So these are my perceptions of endings, and what I think each type means. I'm probably wrong, especially since the last two are so similar it's hard to tell what's what, and obviously there's still the closed ending, that gives you all of the closure you need and it's just a normal setting.
What do you guys think of these settings? Do you have a favorite?