Mar 18, 2012

The lesson of UNSPOKEN

I just finished an ARC of UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Breenan (thanks NetGalley!) and was completely blown away.  This is the first in a new series by Breenan, who wrote The Demon's Lexicon trilogy. This new series is classified as YA Gothic Romance and comes out this fall. Rather than paste the blurb here, visit Sarah's site or watch the trailer :




BTW, this genre is not normally  my cup of tea. And yet I fell hard for this book. Why? One word: tension. The longing between Kami and Jasper is immediate, intense and constantly foiled. See, the two of them have been communicating their thoughts since they were born, years before they ever met. They're each other's best friend, albeit invisible, and both have put up with crazy reputations as a result. Then they meet, and everything changes. The ending had me literally yelling at the book like I did when Catching Fire or  Delirium ended, in that delighted, frustrated oh-no-she-did-not-do-that-to-me way.

It made me go back over the slow romance in my own WIP. My MCs are total opposites (you met them here) and when things start to heat up, I can't bear for them to be mad at each other. I'm like their mom, always wanting them to be happy. WRONG! Instead of Cupid, I must play Devil's Advocate - getting them close, almost touching - before ripping them apart via misunderstanding/circumstances/other people. I've gotta shed my ooey-gooey center and be as ruthless as the Grim Reaper on a scythe-rampage.

So here's my dilemma - how much delay is too much? Is it ever permissible to end on a less-than-satisfying-romance note? This is one of my questions for Sarah (who has agreed to an interview!!! Squee! I'm such a fangirl...) but what do you guys think? What's your formula for creating that angst-filled teen romance? How much delay is too much?  And, most importantly...

Is there room for an unhappy ending in YA if your MS is not part of a series? 

10 comments:

Emily R. King said...

Hmm, all interesting questions. I do believe in order to be classified as a romance the story must have a happy ending. In fact, many romance publishers specifically state on their submissions page NOT to submit unless your MS has a happy ending.

The question is: does this apply to YA romance? The young age of the characters makes it easier to say that no, it doesn't. How many of us end up with our first love? Very few. I think in YA it is realistic to have an "unhappy" ending. Still, a happy ending is definitely more satisfying for the reader.

meradeth said...

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately, because my ms needs to have an unhappy ending. And quite frankly, I kind of like unhappy endings while I'm reading (the one that comes to mind, although it's part of a series, is Possession, which had an awesome ending). The classic HEA ending always run a little false to me, so I like to see something different!

Tobi Summers said...

I think you can do it, but I know, as a reader, I'd be unsatisfied by it. I like the idea that no matter what hard times and problems the characters go through, it will be worth it at the end. I know that's not always realistic, and it's a personal thing. I know a lot of people who feel the opposite way. There are some who might even prefer an unhappy ending if it seems authentic.

Suzi said...

I prefer happy endings.

I've found several stories with a boy mc where he doesn't win the girl and have wondered if they can get away with this more than with a female lead.

So often girls & women are bombarded with the you-need-a-boy/man-to-make-you-happy message. But boys don't have this as much.

Even though their ending was good (as in they changed for the better), they don't necessarily need to win the girl to have that happy ending. And that seems okay with boys. Whereas with girls, it's a tougher sell.

Jolene Perry said...

A friend of mine and I are working on a collaboration, and b/c of our characters, we weren't sure HOW to end it. We knew if they weren't together, we had to see WHY they weren't together.
IF you're talking about Talisman, I think you did a good job with them.
BUT - I've heard this over and over - "what would be the worst thing that could happen to your person" and then do it.
If the ending is good, it makes it that much sweeter, if it's not all sunshine and roses, we STILL need to feel satisfied...

I think that if the two people don't make it together, the other goal (whatever it might be) DOES need to be met in a complete way.

IMO, lol

Kimberlee Turley said...

I'm a big HEA advocate. If I wanted anything else I can just stick with real life. I escape to books because I enjoy that somehow everything works out.

Jessie Humphries said...

I may be too opinionated, but unhappy endings = "Tragedy." I hate tragedy. But I love mixed endings. Happy but sour. See, too opiniated.

Daisy Carter said...

I have to say, I agree with Meradeth up there. I sometimes get annoyed with HEA, especially when it seems forced, and especially when the EVER AFTER part is emphasized. Most teens IRL aren't going to marry their high school sweetheart; the world just doesn't work that way anymore. Sure, we read to escape, but we also read to learn something about ourselves or to feel like we're not alone.
Rambling, aren't I? I vote yes to whichever ending is the most honest for the characters.

Nancy Thompson said...

Tension is the #1 ingredient in ALL good books. And the #2, the #3, the #4... Just read Donald Maass' "The Fire in Fiction". He spells it all out. Tension on every page!!!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

This sounds really good and I'm excited to read Sarah's interview answers!

One of my novels ended on a romantically sad note, but then my agent asked me to change it because she wanted a happy ending. And now that it's changed, I like it much better. :) I'm the same as you, though. I have a hard time being mean to my characters. But it's a necessary evil, I guess.