Dead Characters

I’m reading a YA fantasy series (I won’t say which one to avoid spoilers) and one of the two main characters died suddenly in the middle of the second book (it’s a four-book series).

It’s a rather disorienting sensation. In the realm of fantasy and adventure, most main characters make it to the end, or at least until the final battle. I can’t tell if it’s upsetting or refreshing to have someone break that pattern.

I can’t help seeing it as a little random, though. It did ratchet up the tension for the main character (who is now alone on her journey), but other than that, the death served no purpose–except to go against the norm, which in and of itself isn’t always enough to make a plot twist fly.

However, the plot twist did work in terms of shock value. I found myself more attached to that character than I’d realized, and grieving his loss on behalf of the girl. It spiked the “heart-wrench” factor.

Of course, there’s always the chance that he’s not really dead. No dead body–he was buried under an avalanche. If he comes back, I would be happy for the characters but sad for the plot line. It would be too predictable and too derivative of Gandalf.

Wow. Here I am actually criticizing the possible return of a character from the dead. What’s gotten into me? Normally I’m all for everyone being alive. I stayed mad at George Lucas for about a week the first time I watched Return of the Jedi and saw Vader croak.




Filed under YA lit

3 responses to “Dead Characters

  1. How easily we become attached to characters in a book. But I must admit I’m guilty of that as well.

  2. Fishy

    This reminds me of the Sally Lockhart books (I’m sure you know the death to which I refer). I was so angry when that person just up and died – I didn’t even care how it played into the plot later. It was just plain awful and cruel.

    But it sounds like this death you posted about actually has some merit to the series and the character, so cheers for that. Boo for the sadness that inevitably accompanies death of any kind.

  3. That is very difficult for an author to pull off. Will she piss off her readers or make them attach more dearly to the ones remaining. To me, if they are young and the death is unexpected, they must die earlier in the story, rather than later or in the second or third book.

    Having them die much later is gimmicky to me. It’s like Hollywood and their nighttime soaps. Someone must die to keep viewers from getting bored.

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