Do you sometimes have trouble telling the difference between fictional worlds and real life? Do you ever panic that you might be in love with a fictional character? Have you ever read Harry Potter and gone outside, picked up a twig, and tried to Avada Kedavra the next-door neighbour? Have you ever read Skulduggery Pleasant and sat on your bed, clicking your fingers, waiting for a flame to appear?
If you’re shaking your head to each of these things then you’re lying and you need to stop.
If you’re admitting to each or any of these things, then you’re either crazy or a fangirl/boy. Yay!
Although seriously, go see a doctor. Seeing Albus Dumbledore at the foot of your bed isn’t normal. Trying to overthrow your government under the alias Katniss Everdeen isn’t normal. Planning your future wedding to Dexter Vex isn’t normal. You’re going to end up in that asylum ran by Jessica Lange, okay? You’re certifiably crazy. You’re one fruit loop shy of a full bowl. You’re one taco short of a combination plate. You’re a few fries short of a happy meal. The wheel is spinning but the hamster is dead. Seriously, the receiver is off the hook, go check into a mental hospital.
(WARNING: THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS BLOG POST ARE PURELY FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY AND MAY NOT REFLECT THE TRUE OPINIONS OF THE WRITER. IF YOU TAKE ANY OF THIS STUFF SERIOUSLY, YOU’RE PROBABLY A BIT STUPID, AND I WILL MOCK YOU FROM AFAR. AFAR, I SAY.)
And I mean it, before you all start throwing virtual cabbages at me, I’m making fun of myself as much as I’m making fun of all of you. I’m crazy too, believe it or not. I’ve gone to bed, turned off all the lights, stared into the darkness and planned out my entire wedding with Billy-Ray Sanguine, and how to stop his lack of eyeballs from unnerving the guests. I’ve sat in my room and come up with my own master plan of how to kill Voldemort without taking seven years to get to the good bit. I’ve drawn up pro’s and con’s lists of both Peeta and Gale in case I one day have to pick which one of them I want to start a fatalistic relationship with.
It’s not easy being this insane, it’s really not.
But I think the one thing that we, as a collective of fangirls and fanboys, struggle with the most is when our favourite character dies.
It’s a sad truth, but when we lose our favourite characters, we actually feel it. We actually mourn for them. We cry, and slam the book shut, and throw it across the room. However you react, there is always some kind of emotional trigger, be it sadness, anger, hurt, betrayal, fear, or shock, when our favourite characters die, they take a part of us with them.
(Definitely isn’t the intensely crazy part, that’s for sure.)
There’s actually a term for feeling a legitimate emotional attachment to a fictional character (Oooh, the science bit!) and it’s called Parasocial Relationships. Basically, this is where one party (that’s you) forms a strong bond (gets feels for) another unresponsive party (the fictional character) who will never be able to return your feelings (love) because they do not exist.
People have been trapped in parasocial relationships since the dawn of time and the Greeks used to believe they were actually in love with the ancient (fictional) Greek Gods. Of course, you can have a parasocial relationship with a real person (why won’t you notice me, Tom Hiddleston?!) but it’s most commonly noticed (and made fun of) in cases where people become infatuated with a fictional person.
As much as it’s completely fascinating, it’s also pretty scary. Like, would I cry as much over my best friend’s death as I did when Dobby died? I would like to think so, but who knows?
And in the spirit of talking about traumatic fictional deaths, in this week’s blog post I am going to do a masterpost of all the most traumatic YA book deaths in the last decade (or so).
Get a box of tissues and some cookie dough ice-cream. You’re going to need it.
In no particular order, and of course full to the brim with spoilers, here they are…
The List Of The dead:
He sacrificed himself, letting Snape kill him, so Harry could take down Voldemort once and for all. Always a hero, he made sure he died a hero too.
He was brutally murdered by Voldemort while trying to help Harry escape his clutches. His only wish was for his body to be brought back to his parents, which Harry honoured.
He may not have been dead for long, but for those few pages when he really was dead, after Voldemort had used the Avada Kedavra curse on him, we were all in mourning.
Probably the most needless death in the whole series, but Hedwig getting shot down by one of Voldemort’s death eaters was symbolic of Harry’s childhood dying.
Everything he did was to protect Harry because of the love he had for his mother, and he ended up dying at the hands of Voldemort and his snake/horcrux, Nagini.
Dobby died trying to protect Harry Potter after Harry had specifically asked him in Chamber Of Secrets to never to try and save his life again. Dobby was killed by Bellatrix’s dagger that was meant for Harry.
Sirius was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange after he came back to protect his one and only godson, Harry Potter. His life and his new-found happiness were both equally cut short.
Fred was killed in the Battle Of Hogwarts, fighting against Voldemort’s Army. Reading about George crying over his dead twin brother’s body was enough to break anyone.
Primrose was killed while trying to save others, when she was blown to smithereens by a bomb going off in the area. Everything Katniss did was to save her sister, and the Capitol still killed her anyway.
On a secret mission to get inside President Snow’s mansion Finnick is eaten alive by lizard-hybrid-mutations that rip off his head and kill him instantaneously.
Rue was killed in the 74th annual Hunger Games by a spear to her heart. Katniss tried to save her but it was too late, and instead buried her amongst the flowers.
Cinna was beaten to death in front of Katniss’ eyes to punish her, and she could only watch helplessly from her launching pod. He was killed for supporting her as the Mockingjay.
Dustfinger gave his life over to the White Women (bringers of death, takers of life) to save Farid who he considered as the son he never had. He died and moved on to the other side.
Damon Salvatore gave his life to save Bonnie, and let himself be speared in the heart by the roots of the white ash tree. He died a slow, painful death, much to the love of his life, Elena Gilbert’s, distress.
(Yes, I know this is a picture of the TV Sherlock. Sue me.)
While fighting with his arch enemy, James Moriarty, over the Reichenbach Falls, both Sherlock and James topple and fall to their doom. When Watson hears of Sherlock’s “death” (yes, I’m using quotation marks for a reason, go read the books) he is dismayed.
Wanderer (Wanda) realises her time is up on planet earth, and finally sees the error of her alien species’ ways. She can no longer justify living as a parasite in her host body and she tells the humans the one big secret of how to extract her. She hands herself over to them and they rid themselves of her once and for all…
Ghastly bespoke was killed by one of his best friends, Erskine Ravel, who betrayed him and, quite literally, stabbed him in the back. Ghastly was left to bleed out and die a slow, painful death while all his friends watched on a TV screen, helpless.
Betrayed by the same person who killed Ghastly, Anton Shudder was beheaded by the Cleavers and died side-by-side with fellow Dead Man and lifelong friend, Ghastly Bespoke.
Billy-Ray died protecting the love of his life, Tanith Low, who was under attack from the Black Cleaver. Even though she had no recollection of their relationship, love affair, or engagement, and even though she couldn’t remember any of their time spent together, and even though Billy-Ray knew she didn’t love him and never would, he still loved her enough to give his life for her. He was killed when the Cleaver’s scythe slit his throat. He died a hero.
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She may have only been dead for a few moments, but they were the worst few moments of Valkyrie’s, and our, lives. Valkyrie had to kill her baby sister using the totally instant and pain-free death-touch gauntlet, so she could claim the Sceptre Of The Ancients for herself and use it to kill Darquesse, and then bring baby Alice back to life with a Sunburst.
Echo-Stone Gordon Edgley
For a second time Gordon Edgley had to die, this time at the hands of Darquesse, and it was horrific. His image in the echo-stone flickers in and out of life as he says his final goodbyes to Valkyrie and disappears forever.
Stephanie Edgley, once a character we all hated, used to be Valkyrie Cain’s reflection, but due to overuse became her own person and took on the roles of daughter and big sister that Valkyrie had left behind. Stephanie became a better Stephanie than Valkyrie ever was, proving herself to be strong, brave, capable and kind, and her death, where she was brutally beaten to death by Darquesse, was truly tragic.
Taking on the role of Valkyrie’s adopted grandfather, Kenspeckle was a kindly old man who loved Valkyrie and regularly put Skulduggery in his place. He was a science-magic genius who was brought to an abrupt and bloody end when his Remnant-possessed assistant, Clarabelle, sliced him up into little pieces.
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It was a death that only lasted for a few minutes, abruptly ending when Scapegrace pulled the giant sword out of Thrasher’s head and he sprang back to life, but during those sad few moments as Scapegrace was saying his final goodbyes, there were definitely tears in a few people’s eyes…
Melissa and Desmond Edgley
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Again, another one of those “blink and you’ll miss it deaths”, Melissa and Desmond were only temporarily dead after Darquesse made them disappear into thin air, but when they died, we all really felt it along with Valkyrie.
And lastly, and I have saved the best for last (how could I resist?), we have Skulduggery Pleasant. Again, he’s not really dead, not at all, but you don’t realise that until the final few pages of the last book. As far as the reader is concerned, Skulduggery has walked straight to his death in order to save the world, and to save his Valkyrie Cain. For that brief moment, when we all thought he was dead, that was probably one of the most shell-shocking, heart-wrenching, soul-crushing moments of the whole series for a lot of us, and a large percentage of his readers won’t be forgiving Mr Landy any time soon.
I, certainly, will be having words.
And there you have it. Some of the most traumatic/memorable deaths from the most popular YA books in the last decade.
I’m not even going to end this blog post on a joke, because I’m actually quite sad now.