…and the Dire Earth trilogy by Jason M. Hough.
Please, for the love of all of the fluffiest of kittens and puppies in the world: Just. STOP. (Warning, the following post may contain more than a little rambling due to ANGER!)
For those not in the know, deus ex machina refers to a literary device where, at the end, all of the problems of the plot is resolved by having god or a godlike figure descend from the heavens and make everything alright.
One of the most heinous examples of such things can be found in Peter Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy.
Just. Fucking. STOP.
In Hough’s Dire Earth trilogy, the world has been consumed by a disease that turns the affected humans into mindless animals that are driven by their base, primal urges (fight/flee/procreate).
The only save haven is the town of Darwin, where the mysterious Builders (aliens) have inexplicably left behind a space elevator of sorts which gives off a sort of ‘immunity aura’.
The story follows a number of people as they deal with the revelation that the Builders will likely return and what that may mean for humanity, given that the characters have no idea what the Builder’s motivations were in the first place.
So the mystery builds, and the action intensifies, chapter by chapter, book by book.
See, I was feeling a little nervous when I hit the 50% point of the final book and they still hadn’t gotten to the climax of the series yet.
I was SCARED when I hit 80% and the final act seemed to just be starting.
I knew what was going to happen when I hit 95% of the book and STILL NO END IN SIGHT.
Sure enough, around 97% of the way through the book, the mysterious aliens swoop down, cure the plague, gift mankind with technologies to make up for experimenting on them and whisk away a few of the main characters for a mysterious purpose…which is all explained in the scant 5-10 pages of the epilogue.
How the hell do you wrap up a super complex plot and mystery in just a throwaway epilogue?
That is NOT good closure.
I felt completely dissatisfied at the end of it and would have thrown the book into the damned trash if it wasn’t on my Kindle.
Hells, I might have set the fuckers on FIRE.
Deus ex machina is a cheap and tawdry story-telling device. Even using it in an ironic and self-aware sort of manner tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth. It makes me feel like reading the novel (or novels) was a complete waste of my time and that is NOT how you want a reader to be feeling when they put down your book.
It’s bad enough when it’s in a one-shot novel, but when it’s in a lengthy trilogy? Full of mystery and suspense and action and it ends like THAT?
SET THEM ON FIRE.
Such a STUPID way to end a complex story.
Don’t subject readers to this tripe because you’re too lazy to figure out a believable path to the ending.
Getting to the end of a complex plot and having the author just “okay, and then god waved his hands and all was right with the world again,” is tantamount to admitting that you have no fucking clue where your plot is going and that you’ve given up.
Please tell me that I’m not the only one that’s suffered through this. Have any of you run into deus ex machina endings that made you want to set the book on fire?
…I could use a support group.