Character Deaths – yes or no?

Warning: Major spoilers for The Fault in Our Stars and The Hunger Games coming up!

Hi there! Today we’re going to be discussing character deaths…when do they add to a story and when are they just not needed?

Personally, I’ll never deliberately avoid a book because I feel like it’s going to be sad. Unless I’m in an extremely bad mood and would prefer a lighthearted read, of course. But usually I find emotional books just as enjoyable as happy, easy reads. They offer a completely different experience, but with sad books you have to be prepared for one thing: death.

I’m not saying you can’t have an emotional book without death, I cried at the end of Isla and the Happily Ever After, people! But sometimes, it can add to the whole experience and love of a book. I know say this a lot, but a book should be emotional…it should make you feel connected to the characters and the story, and you should have a little hole in your heart when you lose your favourite character.

When I find deaths unnecessary or even downright annoying

  • The so-cheesy-I-almost-vomit romance

I’m not saying I hate these types of books – I’m just saying they have to be done well. I have to feel connected to the character, and not just because the main character has had sex with them too many times. I need an emotional, deep connection here more than in any other genre – and I find they work better with more than one point of view.

  • The oh-no-someone’s-going-to-die illness related novel

*cough* The Fault in Our Stars *cough*

I’m not going to lie, I actually liked TFIOS, and oh my, I cried. In fact I would actually say TFIOS did quite well, none of us expected Gus to die. But on the other hand, the worst thing I find with these types of novels is knowing who’s going to die. If it’s not a shock and I’ve known it all along, then I’m not going to hit a wall of emotion…it’d be more like a pathetic British rain shower. Always expected and therefore never much of a bother.

So basically, make it surprising. I don’t want to feel myself roll my eyes at the pages.

  • The who-just-died-I-have-no-idea sci-fi/action/dystopian

I’m not saying every action/sci-fi/dystopian novel feels detached from the characters. Actually, far from it…I cried so much when little Rue died in The Hunger Games.

But, I do find myself less bothered by characters in these types of novels. The simple reason being, I’m not focused on the characters. I want to know what’s going to happen because the plot is more likely complicated, and that has most of my attention. If a character has to die to get to the big finale, it’s likely I won’t really care.

So, when do I actually think death is good in a novel (stop ranting, Beth!)?

I’ll try and explain this in short: I don’t have a preference! Sure, there are some genres where I think death can be more necessary for you to feel connected to the characters, but overall, death can enhance any novel…as long as it’s done well.

I don’t want it to be trashy, expected or disconnected. Otherwise, go ahead and make me cry. I’ll (maybe) thank you afterwards!

What do you think of character deaths, and where do you think they should be included?

Please note I have been extremely brutal in this post (sorry not sorry), so please don’t take any of my opinions too seriously!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽


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11 thoughts on “Character Deaths – yes or no?

  1. There are times when I think some deaths are completely unnecessary. However, there are times when I think a death could have improved the story. I won’t post any spoilers but there are some books **cough sparkly vampires cough** that could have improved with a death here and there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting topic! For me, the most powerful death scenes are when someone nobly sacrifices him/herself. And, like you said, we have to feel emotionally invested in the character in some way. Then again, I don’t want the author making a character so obviously sweet and nice that we start going, “Uh-oh, that person is so going to die.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great discussion! I’m all for character deaths when it’s done right. I love books that hit me emotionally so a character I’m invested in that dies is definitely one of the best ways to do that. I don’t like when deaths are done purely for shock value or convenience though – that just feels like lazy writing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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