I like death in my books. Hell, read my stuff. It’s pretty plain to see. I settle for lifelong injury, if death won’t work. It’s not that I like it when people die, but I like it when a good character dies off. The tearing sorrow makes me so happy that the book has done that to me. It’s hard to explain, but it’ s definitely a clear indicator that it’s a good book, if it hurts me.
What makes a good character death? Well, it definitely has to be a character that we sympathize with. Not necessarily like, but sympathize with. I mean, if Professor Umbridge had died, I don’t think anyone would have been sad. Because she had no good qualities. And it has to be a good death. Off screen deaths just aren’t going to cut it.
My top ten? Well, you didn’t ask, but I’ll let you know, anyway:
10: Osa (The Merchant of Death): The death of a motherly character always hits hard, but Osa especially, for me. Through the course of the book, she was the one that knew what was going on. She took care of, you know, saving the universe, and still had time to protect and raise her daughter. That and the fact that her death *spoiler alert* came about in no small part due to the main character makes her death very strong.
9: Hedwig (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows): Yes. An owl ranked higher than a human being. But you know why? The owl was with us for seven books. For all that time that Harry spent in the muggle world, she was the only one he had. Even if he had no correspondence with anyone magical, Harry still had Hedwig. Over seven books, we grew to love her. Or at least I did. And then comes that hideous moment when she gets killed, setting the tone for the book: no one is immune, this time.
8: Harry (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows): Honestly, it would have been higher on the list for me if he hadn’t then been revived. But it was still a put the book down and think kind of shock. Not for long, because I had to jump back into it, find out how they were going to fill out the rest of the book without a main character. But still…wow.
7: Bree Tanner (The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner): This time, the main character stays dead. You know that going in, but you don’t necessarily expect to find yourself liking her so much. In ‘Eclipse,’ she wasn’t much of a character. Just a theory. And it was too bad she died. But, in her own book, she is sympathetic. All she wants to do is live as normal of a life as she can, as a vampire. But that’ not going to happen. This also would have placed higher, but I was prepared for her to die from the moment I cracked open the book.
Plavalaguna (The Fifth Element): Hey. I never said these were just in books. When the diva died, I think everyone loved her. She’d just performed that song, that wonderful song. And then she gets shot. But that’s not the emotional blow. That comes when you find out she probably would have had to die no matter what. The stones needed to save the world were inside her body. Some surgery would have been needed, at the very least.
5: Nathan Wallace (Repo! The Genetic Opera): Of course, it helps when your death is set to a musical number. But there, on his deathbed (or deathstage, I guess), he told his daughter the truth. And she forgave him. And I cried. It doesn’t hurt that you keep thinking he could somehow make it out alive, in a world where you can replace all your body parts.
4: Fred (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows): Okay, you know what? The fact that so many of the deaths in this series make the list just speaks to how well-done the books were. Fred was one of the hardest deaths for me, because not only do you have his fun-loving personality gone, but he leaves behind his second half, and the grieving Weasley family. He never even had a chance to reconcile with Percy. And the brother that gets left behind is missing an ear, if no one else noticed that particular cruelty.
3: Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince): This one hurt. But only after a while, for me. I didn’t cry as soon as he died. I think I was too much in shock. But I definitely didn’t make it through the funeral in one go. I kept having to stop so I didn’t get wet spots on my book. Sure, he was going to die anyway. He’d been cursed by the ring. He was emotionally and mentally weak from the potion in the cave. But still…it’s Dumbledore! He’s just not supposed to die! That’s in the rules we’d all laid down when we first started reading Harry Potter. Breaking that was a powerhouse move.
2: Dobby (Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows): What? Dobby ranks above Dumbledore? Yes. I cried much more for Dobby than Dumbledore. Dobby cared for Harry, in his own very unique way, for years. Dobby was a free elf (See this? Teary eyed already). Dobby was humble and loyal…and then he got killed. Dead. No more Dobby. He was a pure innocent, which is why it was so harsh, I think.
1: Uncle Press (The Lost City of Faar): My number one, and probably always my number one, is Uncle Press. For two books, he was that cool uncle we all wished we had. He was teacher, caregiver, and awesome fighter for the fate of the universe. And then, in a hail of gunfire, he dies. And you find out that he knew he was going to die. He just didn’t tell anyone. May the sobbing ensue.
Whose death did you love? Or hate? Or love to hate?