The YA genre is known for trilogies, duologies, spin-off series, and the like. But no matter how much you love a book series, there’s always that nagging anxiety that the finale won’t be all you hoped. After all, endings are HARD. With character arcs to complete, loose ends to tie off, and eager readers to satisfy, the final book in the series can easily be as much a disappointment as a success.
So which YA series finales succeeded—and which failed?
1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Let’s face it, Bardugo is a literal GENIUS. You know when a book has multiple POVs, and there are certain character perspectives you just dread? Six of Crows is so NOT that book. Bardugo has a way of making her characters feel REAL, and this series was no exception.
I read Crooked Kingdom a year after the first book and was worried I might be a little lost, since I couldn’t remember much of the first book besides how it ended. But as soon as I picked up Crooked Kingdom, I was immersed in the world all over again. This book was just as fast-paced, gripping, and heart-wrenching as its predecessor, and I loved every second of it. Not to mention the ending! It was as wholly satisfying as it was bittersweet. If you love heists, character banter, and twists and turns galore, check this series out!
2. Light by Michael Grant
Michael Grant’s Gone series is still one of my favorites to date. The series revolves around a group of teenagers after everyone under the age of eighteen mysteriously vanishes from town. These books are so unique, and the characters felt so realistic to me. Really, the series has it all—struggles between good and evil (with the perfect hint of gray characters and redemption arcs), romance, drama, and even superpowers.
Light has got to be my favorite series finale of all time. I made the mistake of finishing it before we took pictures for the lacrosse team I was on in high school. I bawled. Actually bawled finishing this book. At our next lacrosse game, I brought the book so I could lend it to my friend. One of my teammates pointed to it and said, “Isn’t that the book you were crying about yesterday?”
Yes. Yes it was.
If you want an emotional ending in the best possible way (or if you want to cry your eyes out like me), read this book!
3. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Mara Dyer series was all the rage back in the day, and its trilogy finale didn’t disappoint. This series will play with your mind, all while sucking you into the story and refusing to let go. The Retribution of Mara Dyer was a page turner littered with mind-boggling plot twists. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Noah’s POV, I did thoroughly enjoy the story regardless.
If you’re looking for a paranormal read set in modern day, complete with intrigue and a built-in book boyfriend (I’m telling you right now, you WILL fall hopelessly in love with Noah Shaw. No question), the Mara Dyer series is for you.
1. Nevermore by James Patterson
I LOVED the Maximum Ride series, and I think that’s why I so mercilessly despised this book. Okay I know—Nevermore isn’t technically the series finale; James Patterson blessed us with Maximum Ride Forever shortly after. Still, Nevermore was INTENDED to be the series finale, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it—it sucked.
I’ve already ranted about this book in a previous article, 5 YA Books That Lived Up to the Hype (and 5 That Didn’t), so if you want a more in-depth rambling about why this book is the bane of my existence, you can read it there. Let me just say that reading this book felt a bit like a fever dream; it felt so disjointed from the rest of the series. Many of Max’s flockmates were absent for most of the book, and the ending was just…strange. There’s no denying James Patterson is a talented writer, but the guts of this book were just missing.
I highly recommend the Maximum Ride series—just not this book!
2. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Allegiant is not on this list for the reason you think it is. In fact, I actually really admire Roth for the way she ended the book. I thought it was bold of her, but I also think it made sense for the plot and Tris’ character. But regardless, it still made my list. And the reason is because this book DRAGGED.
What I loved most about the Divergent series was how action-packed it was. Yet I really struggled to get through the series finale. One thing I found annoying was how immature some of Tris’ actions were. In my mind, her and Four had the same problems they did in book one, as though they hadn’t grown as characters at all. Even further, some of the explanations for the genetics behind the divergent just didn’t seem plausible whatsoever.
Overall, as much as I admired the way Roth decided to round off the series, the book overall just wasn’t as good as the rest of the series.
3. The Crown by Kiera Cass
I loved The Selection. It was fast-paced, with the perfect combination of romance and drama. I ADORED America and Maxon. So I was excited, though hesitant, to read about their daughter in The Heir. Surprisingly enough, I really did like this book.
Unfortunately, its sequel—otherwise known as The Selection #5—disappointed me on so many levels. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about Eadlyn as a character, though she wasn’t what bothered me. What bothered me was that the person she ends up with (No spoilers!!) just didn’t seem to have any chemistry with her whatsoever. Rather, it felt like the author just mashed them together and claimed they were in love. The best part about the original Selection books was the romance, so to have that lacking in this final book was disappointing to say the least.
The ending just felt too unrealistic and kind of cheesy. Everything works out in the end–but almost too perfectly. This isn’t The Bachelorette; this is the royal family, and every decision they make impacts the rest of the country. It rarely felt like Eadlyn or her parents considered that.
Overall, this book was not it. Considering I loved the rest of the series, it was sad to end the books on such a disappointing note.