I was participating in a Twitter chat a few weeks ago, (I can’t remember which one, though!) and we ended up chatting about Happily Ever After in YA. It got me thinking about it a lot afterwards. Is it even realistic to give YA books an HEA? I mean, characters aren’t even twenty yet! This week’s Book Babble (my two-weekly bookish discussion, if you didn’t know) is all about Happily Ever After in YA!
“And they lived happily ever after.” is usually how the fairy tales end. How wonderful did that sound when we were younger! Maybe it still does! I mean, our favourite characters were fine! No more trouble! No more sleeping curse, no more man-turned-into-beast, Rapunzel left her tower… Yay! I actually never thought about the concept of happily ever after, Let’s call it HAE, okay? until recently.
Happily Ever After in YA
HEA is mostly used in High Fantasy. Or at least as far as I know! They’re like our grown-up fairy tales, right? I mean, we have a Kingdom/Realm in lots of trouble and in the end it’s fixed and all is good in the world! Obviously, the final line doesn’t say that they actually lived happily ever after, but we all know they do! It’s like a silent HEA.
A few examples that I can think of with an HAE are The Mirror King, Uprooted, The Hunger Games (Mockingjay), Clockwork Princess… These books all have a silent HAE. I’m not going to say how or why, as I’d spoil the endings, but if you’ve read them you’ll probably understand what I’m saying.
Protagonists in YA are usually between 13 and 18. Basically, their lives have just really started. No matter what terrible things they’ve been through, they still have about 50 to 70 years to live! But what about the Future? Is nothing bad going to happen in the next 50 years? I seriously doubt it. I mean, current foes might be defeated, but who’s the say your neighbouring kingdom isn’t secretly building an army to take you down?
Maybe they really do live happily ever after, maybe a new enemy takes down are beloved characters right after the last sentence, who knows? Maybe our protagonist’s army decides to invade their neighbours? There are endless possibilities as to what could happen I the future. It’s fiction!
Do we need to get rid of the HEA? Nope, not at all! I actually love them. What I’m saying is that maybe, just maybe, we need a little diversity. Yes, we might all very much dislike a certain author for killing off a certain main character, but I think I actually love it. That’s real life, people! Or at least it is in a certain Dystopian trilogy…
What about an ending that isn’t so happy? Maybe an epilogue five years later in which a Kingdom is at war again, or that there’s a new villain! Or maybe a “We’re all very happy right now, but we don’t know what’ll happen in the future.” kind of ending?
A Personal Thing
I think HEA is more or less a personal thing. Maybe I’ve just ruined your perfectly good idea of HEA, because you’re a positive puppy and all is good in the world! Or maybe you agree with me that HEA’s are fun, but sort of “twisted” at the same time.
I guess it all depends on your personal view. Do you think about what happens to your favourite characters when they’re adults? Or are you finished with them as soon as you close the book? These are the kind of things that determine what you think of them!
What’s your view on Happily Ever After? Should there be more diversity in book-endings, or is it perfectly fine the way it currently is?