On my flight home from New York (had a fantastic time! On the trip, that is, not the flight), I read the first book in Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking).
At the same time, I was eagerly looking forward to the third book in Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon's Lexicon trilogy, The Demon's Surrender. Haven't managed to get it yet - if you have, tell me nothing!
I was ploughing through Ness's book, which is action-packed and focuses on a character making a journey, so it constantly propels the reader forward to a destination, an end-point. In the food court of Terminal 4 in JFK, I could see that destination and was moving happily towards it.
Without spoiling, I will just say this: Ness ends with a cliffhanger. It is a conclusion but it isn't an ending. The main questions of the book have been answered but immediately, another much larger question is posed.
In spite of the fact that it isn't my usual type of book (it's quite dystopian), I am very keen to read Book Two. The quality of the writing is good and I like the characters, so I probably would have considered Book Two anyway. But the cliff-hanger ending is such that I feel I have to read on, whether I want to or not.
By contrast, Rees Brennan's first book ends with a major twist but no cliffhanger. My desire to read Book Two came from my curiosity about how the characters would handle the revelation medium-term, and again from the quality of the writing and the characterisation.
I feel The Knife of Never Letting Go can't be read as a stand-alone book. I feel the story is unfinished, and if I was to leave the saga there, I would feel unsatisfied,as though I had put the book down halfway through and never discovered the ending. The end of Book One wasn't a logical place to bow out, should I have wanted to. Put it this way - I wouldn't buy this book as a gift for someone because I would feel I was obliging them to spend their own money on the sequel.
However, if I bought someone The Demon's Lexicon as a gift, I would think 'OK, if it isn't their cup of tea, they can leave the trilogy there and still have read a self-contained story, albeit one that has a sequel.'
Has anyone here read The Knife of Never Letting Go? Did you feel satisfied by the ending or driven to go on?
How do you think the first book of a trilogy should end - a gotta-know-more cliffhanger, or a self-contained ending that's open for a sequel?