My Favorite (?) Character Deaths
Calling them my favorite is both very true and completely misleading. That sensation of a heart being yanked out, stomped on, and smushed back in still smarting is one every bookworm knows. And alhough ‘like’ is a strong word for that feeling . . . it’s definitely something I’d recommend. Just so you can suffer with me.
Okay. If we’re going to do this, let us get in the properly devastated mindset first:
Now that I’m ready (WHY GOT WRITERS, WHYYYY) I’ll go ahead and list for you the literary deaths which were the most shattering, traumatic, extremely upsetting, unexpected, and terrible I’ve ever read, and therefore qualify as my favorites.
**SPOILERS AHEAD. Obviously if I’m going to tell you who died, there will be spoiled plots. Please be advised.**
1. Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien
The movie is more gut-wrenching by about a factor of twelve, but it’s plenty devastating in the book. It’s the definition of a heroic, plot-driving death with far reaching consequences.
2. John Coffey, The Green Mile, Stephen King
This gentle giant deserved so much better than he got, in life and in death. King unapologetically serves us a big steaming helping of unfairness, injustice, deadly racism, and a tragic ending.
3. ALL of the deaths (seriously, all of them), IT, Stephen King
Does it make for a gripping, emotional, terrifying read to watch the characters fall one-by-one in horribly inventive ways? Yes. Is every single death (the adults and the children, historical or modern) cruel and unfair? YES. Stephen King is considered a master in the writing world for good reason. And that good reason is: he gains direct contact with your heartstrings and then he YANKS ON THEM. Viciously.
4. Quickening the Elemental, The Druid of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Quickening sacrifices herself in the most beautiful, selfless gesture, to bring an entire world back to life. Still doesn’t make it okay with me. Her death scene has never left me, not once in over a decade. I can still close my eyes and picture it. Terry Brooks, sir, we need to have WORDS about Amberle, Garet Jax, Hendel, and Garth. HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO GARTH, and more importantly, how could you do that to my heart? No, I’m not alright. Everything hurts and I’m dying.
5. Finnick Odair, Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
No. Just . . . no. I still sometimes refuse to believe he actually died. The man made it through two Hunger Games arenas, decades of death threats and political tripwires, only to fall in the last few pages after the briefest smidgen of a taste of happiness. Seriously, Suzanne? SeRIoUSly? I’m actually more devastated about him than Prim, or Rue, although they’re both a very close second.
6. Lance-Constable Cuddy, Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett
Pratchett seldom-to-never includes character deaths in his series. I can think of maybe three examples of a character dying in the Discworld. So when Cuddy’s death came in Men at Arms it was a completely unexpected gut-check. For Detritus, for the other members of the Watch, and most of all, for me. Pratchett is a master author, so when he writes a death that death will stick with you long, long after you’ve closed the book.