Monday, March 25, 2013

In which Amy enthuses about endings

Hullo Blogsmith readers, I am not Shoshana. I'm Amy, another children's bookseller, and I would like to take a minute or six to talk about something we've all experienced: finishing a series.

The end of a beloved book series is a unique sort of agony. (Yes, I used the word 'agony' and, no, I don't regret it or think that I am overreacting). It's the kind of pain that starts off as a little dull pang in your chest, perhaps the first time you hold the book in your hands. You look down at it, your excitement likely visible to the naked eye, and you are suddenly frozen. You have it. The balm to soothe your question fevered brain, the answers, all in your hands, ready to be consumed with undoubted vigor. This is the moment you have been waiting for.

But you can't open it just yet.

To open it is to start on the last leg of an adventure. To be forced to say goodbye to friends you might even know better than yourself. Once you start you'll have to finish. Once you finish, it's over. It can't be over! These characters are supposed to grow up and grow old with you! It's not right!

Inevitably, you take a breath and open the book.

You might laugh, or cry, or get so mad you want to throw the book (but you would never do that, right?...Right?!). You'll feel the remaining pages dwindle under your fingers. Maybe you don't notice, or maybe you nervously watch the number count higher and higher as you get closer to the end. Sometimes you even slow down, realizing so little is left.

But the moment always comes.

It's over.

This last week, Clockwork Princess, the final book of Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices series, was released. I took release day off so that I could sit down and read the entire thing undisturbed. I even put a note up online declaring that I would be unreachable. Both my computer and my phone were turned off and I expressed a strict unwillingness to answer my room door unless there was a serious emergency.
And though Clare wrote a wonderful and fitting end to the trilogy, I had that moment. That heart aching, how-could-it-possibly-be-over moment. I sat stunned. I was feeling so many different things at once. But Jem! Will! And what about Tessa? It didn't seem possible that I outlived them. Because that is what it felt like, my friends were gone. I spent a couple of days refusing to read anything else. I just wanted to think about it. Think about what I'd had and what it felt like I'd lost.

Even now, a week later, I still have the book on my mind and strong desire to hunt down everyone who's read it and talk to them. I watch the shelf, waiting to see someone pick it up, just so I can express my, hopefully mutual, excitement. I'm not done with it. I have so much to talk about still!

So, if you have so many feelings after Clockwork Princess that you feel like you're bursting, or you just think you can succeed where so many have failed and convince me that Will is better than Jem, come find me. I'll be happy to talk to you. I'm usually in the Young Adult section looking at the shelves and trying to figure out what to read next, or where I've heard of that one book, or why they can't just all fit nicely in place.

That aside, I don't think you have to like this series, or even young adult books, to get swept up in the end of a series. To get caught in that freezing moment where it seems so unjust that things have to end. Things always do. Eventually that series will end and you'll be left with this part of your life that is suddenly over. It's the curse (or, a curse, rather) of the book lover. We make so many friends only to have them ripped away.

You'll never be able to replicate the experience of the first time you read a certain book, but there's small comfort in knowing that you can always start all over again. 

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