Let’s Discuss: When a Beloved Character Dies

Posted 14 November, 2013 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Discussion Posts / 0 Comments

Let's Discuss - (un)Conventional BookviewsLet’s Discuss is a weekly post hosted by Thoughts and Pens. Since she took over, Charlotte has changed the name to Thursdays with Luxa if you want to find it on her blog. The discussion posts are supposed to have something to do with books, but you can pretty much choose your own topic. You can link up to your discussion post at Charlotte’s blog, and also visit other posts and participate in the discussions they are having. When you link up, it should be to a post made in the past seven days, even if Thoughts and Pens post hers every Thursday. You don’t have to post weekly discussion posts, and you can participate when you feel like it.

Let’s Discuss: When a Beloved Character Dies

I have thought about this lately, since there has been a lot of talk about a well-liked character dying, what it did to the story, and how it disappointed (or not) the readers. I have to admit that most of the time, when a character I love dies, I am very upset! I cry just as if one of my good friends has passed away. To make things worse, deaths in the books I read are often quite violent, too. No old age and just fading while sleeping in my favorite stories! Nuh huh! But even with that, sometimes, I have different reactions as well, because sometimes, it just pisses me off. Like, it has happened that I thought a death was completely unnecessary. It didn’t move the story forward. It didn’t make the remaining characters truly grow. And it certainly looked like a plot-point just to shock the readers.

If I feel like a character’s death is simply added to the story to shock me, I am not a happy reader. At all! And this very plot device has ruined a series I really loved before. Now, I’ve had the latest released book in that series on my kindle for a few weeks, and I’m not even sure if I want to read it. That series isn’t on my pre-order list anymore either. And I think that the book I have yet to read might very well be the last one I, personally, will read in that series.

Then, there are the character deaths that bring out so many emotions it’s almost impossible to deal with. I am sad, angry, going through all the stages of grief right along with the characters in my book. And I can see how the characters deal with this death differently. How some are reminded of another death close to them. Or for others it’s the first time someone they cared about died, and they are so devastated, but at the same time trying to be strong and be there for their friends. Those deaths, even if they break me and I’m a snotty, red-eyed, crying mess kind of make sense to me. Those deaths make the characters still living realize how fragile life is, how important it is to always tell the people you love that you do, indeed love them. They grow through their pain, and they honor the memory of the one who is no longer there.

Sometimes, reading a sad and snot-inducing book with heart-felt grief feels cathartic, and I actually get to work through stuff that might have lingered in my mind for too long without release. I have to be in the right mind to be able to deal with that kind of grief in a book, though. I mostly want to be in a pretty happy place myself, and feel strong enough to go through grief that can happen because a character I really loved as if s/he was real isn’t an easy feat. Most of my favorite characters feel like they’re my friends, you know?

How about you? What do you think about stories where a character you love dies? Does it piss you off or make you sad? Or don’t you care one way or the other?

Thanks for stopping by! I hope I haven’t made you too sad by bringing up this heavy topic.

Lexxie signature (un)Conventional Bookviews



Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,076 other subscribers

0 responses to “Let’s Discuss: When a Beloved Character Dies

  1. I have a hard time when a character I love dies. Usually, I’m ticked off and feel like I’ve been played with, which is ridiculous because often the death is an essential part of the plot, or there for the emotional growth of the characters. If it’s just for shock value, I’m with you, Lexxie, and really hesitate on reading more.

    There is still one death I haven’t gotten over with — Finnick Odair. He was by far my fave in the Hunger Games trilogy. Waaaaa!

    • *cries* you just had to go on and mention Finnick, didn’t you πŸ˜› now I’m crying just because his death was truly devastating!

      There have been books where I thought that a death could only be expected kind of, even in HG, so I wasn’t ticked off, only very, very sad.

      Thanks for stopping by, Katie.

  2. For the most part I feel like you do. If the death feels unnecessary I get really annoyed. Thankfully that doesn’t happen all that much.

    For the most part I avoid any book where the blurb on the back or in the front cover or online mentions dealing with the loss of ___. There are just places I do not want to go on purpose.

    Finnick! My poor dear Finnick. So very sad. I’m still sruprised my Mockingjay books looks new with all the tears spilling through that book.

    The other books that somehow escaped damage by tears are the last 3 Harry Potter books.

    What is truly sad, though, is when a character dies and I have no reaction. When that happens I know the author did not truly reach me.

    But there are times when my husband will catch me crying and asks what is wrong. When I tell him a character just died he tends to roll his eyes. LOL

    Xyra recently posted: Springfield Collection Sale!
    • LOL, my husband sometimes asks me about why I’m laughing or crying when I’m just sitting there with a book as well… But he’s pretty used to it.

      I would hate it if the blurb on a book would tell me in advance about a character dying – it would spoil the whole story for me, just make me wait for it to happen (and be over with)

      Thanks for stopping by Xyra! *hugs*

      • Exactly the reason I no longer read the blurbs on series I am reading. Sometimes they do tell. πŸ™ Or at least allude to it.

        In other news, I think I know the series you won’t read more of and agree that last death was completely unnecessary. Although, you may have more than one series that you stopped reading…so many books on your list.

        Xyra recently posted: Springfield Collection Sale!
        • The series I think about is not on your list of books at all. However, there have been other series I have completely stopped reading.

          I can’t believe the blurbs! I hate being spoiled, and it would probably make me not buy and read a book if the blurb told me the most important plot point.

        • Oh, you know, there have been some series I just couldn’t continue because I wasn’t enjoying it at all – nothing to do with characters dying (and maybe I’d have enjoyed it more if a specific character or two had actually died :O)

  3. I have to agree with you, Lexxie. I don’t really want death in my books at all, but if it serves a purpose, other than shock value, it’s okay. But, like you, these characters become my friends, and it’s hard to let them go.

    I am very curious as to which series you’re referring to – that you’re not going to read anymore of. Hmm…

    And yeah, thanks for mentioning Finnick, Katie! *sniff*sniff*

    **HUGS** (needed BIG hugs after this post) πŸ™‚

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: **Cover Reveal ~ Come to Me Softly ~ A.L. Jackson**
  4. I’ll check if you’ve read this series or not, Brandee, and if you have, I’ll let you know which it is… if you haven’t but it’s on your TBR, you’re going to have to find out for yourself πŸ˜‰

    I think we all need *HUGS* with a post like this.

    Thanks for stopping by Brandee.

    • Yeah, me too. If it’s a character I really loved, I will go through the entire grief process as well. Which is why I hate it so much if a death is used like a plot device to shock the readers.

  5. I don’t handle it gracefully. When I see it coming, I can prepare myself. But if the death is just an emotional trigger or some brilliant message on life and the world, I fire that author forever. Really. I even understand as an author the story flows in a certain direction or the author has a vision from the beginning, but screw all that. Did you ever watch the show ER? Carol Hathaway was supposed to die in the first episode, but the audience loved her so much they wrote her in as a main character. I think once you unleash your story on the world, you’ve unleashed the world on the story as a whole. At least for me, the audience can’t be ignored fully. Meaning how could Collins obliterate almost all of my favorite characters? Grrh! Okay, I’m going to go shake it off.

    Robyn Jones recently posted: Think Out Loud [32] Cussing Up A Storm
    • Yes, I did watch ER. How could they know just from the pilot that Carol Hathaway was going to be such a hit, though? She was there almost all through the seasons, too, wasn’t she?

      I agree, too, though, the public is part of the writing in some ways, but in others, maybe a whole trilogy has been completed before the first book is released, no?

      Crying because of book-friends is still kind of good, though, especially if it means my actual life doesn’t have that kind of sorrow!

      • It’s crazy that Carol was going to die in the first episode. She’d been brought in after a suicide attempt, but people loved her immediately and the chemistry with Clooney was too good, she ended up not dying from slashing her wrists. TV. I know it would mess up the story, but when a beloved character dies I still hope for a soap opera type resurrection, some drug they took before they were put in the casket and they clawed their way out or the dead person was just a clone, don’t worry. My sister hasn’t returned to House of Night after a certain death.

        Robyn Jones recently posted: Think Out Loud [32] Cussing Up A Storm
  6. I hate it when a character I love dies! It’s just not FAIR!!! I LOVED him/her!!! *small tantrum*

    Like you said, as long as there’s a point to it, then I’ll eventually (one day…very far away) be okay with losing that character *cough, Kisten, cough* But if there’s not point and the surviving characters don’t grow from it then it makes me furious.

    • *cries for Kisten* second time I’m reading comments to my own discussion post and start crying! For real! And the surviving characters both grew and continues to talk about him, so it’s not like they pretend he never even existed.

      Thanks for stopping by, Traci.

  7. Oh man, I cry buckets and buckets of tears when a character I love dies. This doesn’t happen too often, maybe once a year, but when it does it is so painful, even when I expect it. The book that’s made me cry the most this year is definitely CLOCKWORK PRINCESS. I will never recover from that ending, ever.

    Wendy Darling recently posted: The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4): review
    • The ending of Clockwork Princess actually didn’t do much for me at all, but I know who you are talking about and why, Wendy. I thought so many things were obvious because of things that happened in the Mortal Instruments, so I kind of just came along for the ride.

      Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  8. There’s only a handful of character deaths that have really affected me, but a whole lot more that have pissed me off. I want characters to die for a reason. If it’s for “shock value” and it’s not a horror/slasher book, then I’m chucking it across the room.

    Great post!

    Lizzy recently posted: Nano Excerpt 2
    • Exactly, it’s as if for a while there, characters were killed off seemingly on a whim! And some have ‘come back from the dead’ which in most cases only pisses me off more! First you want me to cry for your character, and then you come back a book or two later to tell me that the character wasn’t completely dead after all?

      Thanks for stopping by, Lizzy.

  9. “If I feel like a character’s death is simply added to the story to shock me, I am not a happy reader.”
    Thank you! I complained about this on a TTT one week.

    I fell apart over some character deaths. There are two that jump to my mind immediately, and I seem to lose interest in the series if a character I love passes away.

    Lyn Kaye recently posted: Stacking the Shelves #66
    • If a character I love passes away and it was all for nothing, I’m outta there! I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets annoyed by this, Lyn.

      Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  10. I find it harder to accept a death of a character if it happens in the middle of the book or the series than if it happens at the end. If it happens at the end it seems to me more like “ok this is how this story is going to end”. But if it happens in the middle I’m like “NOOOO, how can I go on without _______.” I had several of those moments in the Harry Potter series. I actually stopped reading HP and the Half Blood Prince for a good 3 weeks right when the death happened. It destroyed me. Well as much as a death in a book can. I was pissed and I’m still not completely over that one πŸ™ Anyway I love this topic!! Good idea!

    Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog) recently posted: Thin Space by Jody Casella

Thanks for commenting - chat soon!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.