I finished Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan last night. It was a straightforward, fun read with great interior artwork, but about two-thirds of the way through I started to get nervous. How was he going to resolve the story with the remaining pages? After another chapter or so it was clear that the book wasn't going to resolve. Uh oh. I hate not being able to read straight through to a satisfying resolution.
Don't get me wrong. Leviathan is good, and if you don't mind reading the first part of a story and waiting for the resolution to appear in some future volume, then dive right in. Me, not so much. I'd rather wait until I had both halves of the story so that I could read straight through to a real resolution.
When I pick up a novel, I expect it to resolve. If a book does not resolve because it is part of a larger work, there should be an indication of that on the cover. Nothing on the cover of Leviathan indicates that there will be a sequel or that this is only part 1. The ending of Leviathan didn't leave me satisfied; it left me frustrated.
Perhaps this is just an odd personality quirk on my part. A pet peeve. But not many people get half way through a book and think, you know, I would enjoy this book a whole lot more if I put it aside for a year. That last half will be so much better after a year.
No, big stories are broken into multiple books due to a variety of publishing constraints. I understand that. Publishers should, however, set reader expectations appropriately and indicate when a book is just a part, but they apparently believe that readers who don't buy clearly labeled "Book 1" books are more numerous than readers like myself who get pissed off at being duped.
If you're like me and don't like being surprised to discover at the end that the book is just part 1, then protest a bit. Write a letter or blog post or whine on twitter (I've done two of the three). If you don't care, then have a great day. And to be clear, I enjoy Scott Westerfeld and his writing and am not at all upset that the practicalities of writing and publishing made it necessary for him to split this cool story into multiple books. I'm grumpy at his publisher, Simon and Schuster, for not alerting me to the fact that the story is split across books.