Monday, September 28, 2015

Discussion Question: Is Killing Off Main Characters the New Trend?

Lately it seems like I've been reading more and more books where one of the main characters gets killed off.  And I'm not talking about books where people are sick or dying or something because well, kind of expected.  I mean fantasy/dystopian/paranormal books.  

I have to say, I HATE THIS. I get to know the characters, a lot of times over multiple books, I'm emotionally invested in them, and then boom, let's kill off one of the main characters.  WHY????  What really gets me is when it seems so pointless, which is most of the time.  Is it for shock value?  To be different?  (which it's not if it's happening more and more).  Is it to be realistic?  (You know, people are dying left and right but then magically, the main characters don't.  Part of me gets this, but still).  

I recently read a book where BOTH of the main characters die at the end.  And I think (not sure, since the main characters died and it was dual POV) that a lot of the other characters died too.  I was like, what??  So disappointing.  I mean, I read three books and everyone dies at the end?  What was the point?

The only time I actually thought it was well done was a long time ago when I was reading a book written in first person and the first chapter ends with that person dying.  Then the POV shifted to a new character.  First of all, so unexpected.  Second, not at all emotionally invested in that character so I didn't mind.  Other than that, I never like it when it happens and honestly, I just want the main characters to end up happy together.  Those are the books I want to read again and again and recommend to people.  

Have you noticed this happening more and more lately?  Do you hate it?  Think it's necessary?  

Posted by:  Pam


  1. I'm not sure if I've been seeing this more or not, but I know I worry a lot more that a main character will die than I used to. Especially when I'm reading the end of a series, sometimes I'm tempted to flip to the back page just to see if they're alive. It feels like kind of waste of time when they die because it is so easy to get attached/invested in them.

  2. I sincerely hope not! Like you said - I do not want to spend a whole series with these characters, only to see them die at the end! This is how we will remember them for FOREVER. I just can't fathom why an author would want to do that! (I mean, for the most part. Some books I guess I can understand, but I typically won't read them.)

  3. Only one book is coming to mind right now and I think it's the obvious one that caused quite the uproar a year or so ago. And in that case the death was totally unnecessary. I think that's where I draw the line - if it seems more like its just for shock value, then I am NOT OK with it. But if I think it seems realistic, then I am, even if it might kick me right in the feels. Like I actually love that George R. R. Martin has killed off so many of his characters because in the world that he created, I would expect a lot of people to die and just because we like them shouldn't change that. And it kept me on my toes as a reader. Sort of on a related note - I used to read Clive Cussler ALL THE TIME growing up - I LOVED his Dirk Pitt series - but obviously Dirk and Al NEVER DIED no matter how many impossible situations they found themselves in and I found that after so many books, any time they got in a skirmish of sorts I would get impatient and want to pass over it since I knew they would survive... So in that way, sometimes it's nice to be surprised (as long as none of my book boyfriends die) =P

  4. I would have to say that I agree completely. I still haven't read Alegiant for that reason. I mean you invest so much into a story and characters and I read for entertainment and then that is such an unsatisfactory and depressing thing to find at the end. I also don't re-read stories that end that way so those books aren't bought or don't stay on my shelves. Great discussion!

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

  5. I've definitely noticed this more lately and I almost feel like it has something to do with the popularity of Game of Thrones. George RR Martin is ruthless with his characters and I almost feel like everyone is trying to write that same ruthlessness on their pages. And I am not okay with it. I hate when I invest 3+ years into a series and then my beloved MC gets killed off. Not cool. if there's a legitimate reason for the death, it advances the plot, it makes sense in the context of the story, I can get behind it. But lately I feel like it's for shock value and I'm over it.