Friday, December 11, 2009

Waiting for death

I waited 17 months for this character to die. 

It's not like I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  I probably forgot about it within a week of reading the last volume back in July of 2008; that's just how my book memory works, but when this volume came, I decided to brush up on how that last volume ended, since I knew it had been quite some times since its release.  Of course, that little catch-up made me want to read the whole series again, but I have job applications to work on, and I do have some self-control.  Sometimes.

I waited for most of the whole volume for him to die.  I was in agony. 

Maybe they'll surprise me, I thought.  Maybe I'm forgetting something; it has been a while.  Maybe I'm misremembering the absence of this character from the book's present in earlier volumes.  I can't keep all these characters straight, especially when they're supposed to look like each other!  I tried so hard to convince myself that he wasn't necessarily going to die. 

As the end of the story arc neared, it looked like I might be right.  They survived the dicey situation, and everyone was planning relatively-happily-ever-afters, sort of, and then it happened.  I knew he would die on the next page.

I wouldn't turn the page.  I didn't want to see.  I didn't want to cry.  I had another book to read next.  I didn't want to be right.  But I couldn't just stay stuck like that.  I couldn't leave the book unread.  I owed it to the character to see his life through to the end even though I didn't want to be right.

But I was.  Sometimes I hate being right.  A lot. 

It didn't make me feel better that this revelation about the past helped the more recent past and the present make a lot more sense, that it explained some mistifying behaviors logically and powerfully and with quite an emotional impact.  I just didn't want him to die, dagnabbit.  I liked him.  I didn't care that the logical conclusion of his beliefs, the acting out of his ideals, the very integrity that made me like him necessitated his demise in the world of this story.  I just didn't want to lose him. 

It's a good thing writers don't always give us what we want.  I would have been disappointed if he had survived after all that set-up.  I would have felt betrayed by the author, would have thought her weak for being unable to follow through this time, would have been irritated at this missed opportunity to tie up some niggling, bothersome loose ends/plot holes.  I hated being right, but the alternative would have been worse.


Can you remember any books like this?  Any times you really wished you had guessed wrong about the fate of a character?  If you were the writer, do you think you would have been able to find a way to save the life and somehow make the story have integrity, too?  (Or is that why you don't want to be a writer? :)

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