Best Book Ever: Shocking Deaths!

This week in Best Book Ever, I asked our contributors for books that maybe made you want to throw the book across the room, for one specific reason: a shocking death. Maybe it was shocking because you didn't think the author would kill character X, or maybe it was shocking because it was especially creepy. Spoilers abound, so be warned that you may be ruined for many plot points if you keep reading!


No, really, you're about to be spoiled for MAJOR CHARACTER DEATHS for A LOT OF BOOKS.  Turn back now if you don't want to know!!

As soon as you said "made you want to throw the book across the room," I knew what my answer would be. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, by Anthony Burgess. This book makes me want to spit shrapnel. Really, it's hard to articulate the depth of my loathing for Alex, the narrator of this book, which also ties into your request for a "shocking death," because Alex and his friends gang-rape a woman so violently she later DIES of her injuries. Alex is brutal and takes great enjoyment from victimizing others...and then at the end of the book, we're told that he simply grows out of it. Because according to Burgess, being a murderer and a rapist stems not from antisocial tendencies, but from a simple lack of maturity. I wanted to see Alex suffer for his crimes, (um, hello, he raped a woman to death!), but it never happened. Damn, now I'm angry and want to hurl a book at the wall!

Melissa Landers, debut author of Alienated (2014, Disney Hyperion)

The best "WTF?" moment I've ever had while reading was the end of GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin. I'm so accustomed to the heroes never, ever dying (or at the worst, being saved at the last moment yet horribly maimed) when Ned Stark's head just came clean off right in front of his daughters after he disgraced himself as the evil boy king Joffrey had asked him to... well... let's just say instead of watching the TV while that episode played out in Season One, I watched the b/f's face. It was kind of priceless. 

Mindy McGinnis, debut author of Not A Drop To Drink (2013, Katherine Tegen)

By book seven, we had all learned that J.K.Rowling was okay with breaking readers' heart if the story called for it. She'd already killed off Cedric, Dumbledore, Hedwig, and Sirius. BUT -- twins are a sacred thing (disclaimer: I say this as the mother of twin boys) and when Fred Weasley didn't survive the final battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it broke my heart more than the rest of the deaths combined. I closed my eyes and covered my ears for the part of the movie and have skipped those pages in every re-read. In my mind, Fred & George are still merrily playing pranks on all their siblings and friends.

Tiffany Schmidt, debut author of Send Me a Sign (2012, Walker-Bloomsbury)

My pick for this week is CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein. It was pretty obvious from the start that things weren't going to end well for all the characters (they rarely do in war books), but the WAY one of the characters died near the end of the book shocked me all the way through. (I won't tell you any more, in the interest of avoiding spoilers, but I really didn't see it coming.) I couldn't throw my book against the wall because I was on a coach bus surrounded by people when I read that particular section. But that didn't stop me from gasping out loud, clapping my hand over my mouth, and then starting to cry. I'm sure my fellow travelers were delighted...

Alison Cherry, debut author of Red (2013, Delacorte Press)

This week's Best Book Ever was a no brainer. Andrea Cremer's BLOODROSE won this BBE. This was the first time in all my years reading, that I was upset, hurt, betrayed, heartbroken and deceived by a book. I literally had to take weeks to process the book to understand why, she did it. Once the clouds cleared up and I saw clearly, I understood why she did it. It was one of Andrea's best books written to date. For an author to take such an important character and make that bold/sacrifice of a move, and make it work with the story, That's just Genius!!!

Yara @ Once Upon a Twilight

I've mentioned the Chronicles of Narnia here before, but when the topic of most shocking death came up, the book that stuck out in my mind is the last one in the series, The Last Battle. Given the title, perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised; it was actually years after I first read the series, when I reread them as an adult, that the ending seemed most startling--I don't even know what my 8-year-old self thought of this. The benefit of talking about such an old book is I don't have to worry so much about spoilers, because here, I'll say it: Everyone dies. Everyone. Oh, except Susan Pevensie. See, at the end of the book, Aslan leads everyone into what is essentially the afterlife and the main characters from the other books--Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Polly, Digory, Jill, Eustace--are suddenly back in Narnia. Yay? And it turns out they have all died horribly in a train accident, along with the Pevensies' parents (who had survived a freaking war, remember.) But not their sister Susan, who happened to avoid getting on the death train and also may not be allowed back in Narnia because she has stopped believing in it, or something. Anyway. This was shocking because these were the protagonists from the other books, characters we've grown attached to over seven books. And it seemed a terribly unfair and cruel fate considering the (already dead) characters actually discuss how bad it would be to die in a train crash. I know that isn't the point--this is essentially a Christian book, and death is supposed to be good--but it still feels like a bit of a betrayal, and also maybe a tiny bit lazy that they all happened to be on the same train together at the same time. Like, what if Aslan caused the accident to get them to Narnia on his schedule? Not cool, lion.

E.C. Myers, author of Quantum Coin (2012, Prometheus Books)

As for us...

Some of my other choices - Code Name Verity and Game of Thrones - have already been mentioned here, so I'm going to with Feed, by Mira Grant.  There are a lot of deaths throughout this book (and the whole Newsflesh trilogy) that made me gasp and sniffle and feel generally punched right in the heart.  It's a book about zombies, after all.  You expect a lot of shocking deaths and a high body count.  But the big one at the end just destroyed me.  You get attached to George, your snarky narrator, and then, bam, the author kills off her main character who happens to be narrating the book?  How many other books written in the first person have the guts to kill off that character?  Not too many.  I even polled my Twitter friends afterwards, in a vague way, and came up with only a very small list of books that took that daring turn.  I wept like a baby all through George's last scene and blog post.  I still do whenever I reread it.  It breaks my heart, even now, still knowing how the trilogy ends.  Even though I already had the second book in the series, I was too emotionally keymashed to move on to reading it for a long while.  My heart hurts just thinking about it.

What about you? 

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