The Serial Salutation
Aug 11, 2016
I spent all of last week binge reading Mary E. Pearson's Remnant Chronicles, and when I finished The Beauty of Darkness in the middle of the night I was left with this feeling. It was a sort of sadness because the series had come to an end and the rest of these characters' stories were no longer for me to know. I was surprised though because I didn't love the books. I liked them and I enjoyed reading them, but there wasn't much love. So why was I somewhat sad and falling right down the rabbit hole to a good size book hangover?
I'll tell you why. It's because I'd spent days immersed in that world, following the characters around and seeing what they'd do next and hoping for certain outcomes. For several days I was in that world, and then, just like that, I wasn't. You get this feeling: what the hell am I supposed to do now? The answer? Move on. Find a different world to fall into. Go to the beginnings and middles and ends of that world. Leave that world. Move on. Repeat. It's the neverending, infinite, masochistic cycle that is reading. We know that reading brings a specific kind of pain, a fresh hell, and yet we embrace it. We like it.
We all know what Dr. Seuss once said: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." How fitting that an author would say such a thing. But the thing is that it's true. When we finish a series we're sad because that's it, it's over, zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay. We're so happy to have experienced that world, but we're in despair because we're no longer able to discover new things in all its nooks and crannies. But why is it such a big deal?
Books are our friends, our family, our babies. We text our friends and call them, we see their life updates on social media, we can talk to them tomorrow and next week and three years from now. But books are friends that are here for a while and let you inside their heads and let you feel their feelings, and then suddenly they're gone and you can't keep in touch with them anymore because their lives must go on without you and in reality we don't get to know what our friends are doing all the damn time. You can wonder what they're doing, imagine what they're thinking. But you don't get to know. Instead we must use our imagination and put those characters where we want them to be, and move on and make new friends and hang out in new worlds.
It's like when you listen to a song and the instrumental portion and the beat just speak to you, and when it ends you're hungry for more and need to feel that music pulsing in your soul again and again and again. But the beat always comes to an end. The only way to experience it again is to put the song on repeat and familiarize yourself with every millisecond of it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Feel.
Remember: smile because it happened. You got to be in that world. You got to be a part of that story. And you got to know those characters and feel what they felt and fall in love with every word. And in a way it's not over, not really; it's tattooed across your bookish soul. Sure, it leaves you with one hell of a book hangover. But there's a cure: go to another world, find another story, and meet new characters. It's fiction that we wish was non, a bittersweet symphony played on the strings of our hearts, but damn if it isn't a good one.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go curl into a ball and think about how utterly fucked I'm going to be when A Court of Thorns and Roses AND Throne of Glass end next year. (Which isn't possible. It can't be possible I WON'T SAY GOODBYE YOU CAN'T MAKE ME.)