Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writer's View: Siege, by Rhiannon Frater


From Goodreads: As the survivors continue to seek stability in their lives, forces both inside and outside the fort walls move them toward a final, climactic conflict between the living and the dead. Jenni, Katie and the others discover that they are not alone, that there is another enclave of survivors whose leaders plan to take over the fort.

Faced with a series of difficult decisions, each choice they make could lead to the deaths of those they love or, if not careful, their own demise.

Meanwhile, an army of the dead is descending on the fort. Soon, the living will face their ultimate fear...

...a siege by the dead.

But they will fight to the end to survive...

The Writer's View

I cried so hard and so long while reading this book, I completely destroyed a new pair of contact lenses. I staggered into work red-eyed, and one of my co-workers asked me if I had pink eye. When I sheepishly explained that, no, I did not have pink eye, but rather had been weeping over a zombie novel, I gave her a good laugh. (Don't worry, I got even by laughing at her "I love Edward" t-shirt. Heh.) Needless to say, Siege by Rhiannon Frater is a book that I hold close to my heart. Is there anything else I can say to convince folks to check out this series?


Giving characters a good death

Is there such a thing as a good death? In fiction, I believe there is. I have read books where I feel like the writers just whack people for shock effect. Like they run out of good things to write about, or the plot grows stale, so they feed a few characters to a monster just to get things going again. Has anyone else read books with this sort of thing? I've also seen it in TV quite a bit. Here, let's try and get an Emmy by whacking a beloved character! These sorts of stuts drive me CRAZY.

I'm not saying characters shouldn't die. In certain stories, when the stakes are high, I expect beloved characters to die. (Hunger Games is a prime example. Rue, anyone?)

I think as writers, we owe it to our readers to give our characters good deaths--deaths that have deep meaning and a profound impact on the story as a whole. Even though I am sad when beloved characters die, when they are given good deaths, it makes it easier to accept their deaths and not feel wretched about it.

In Siege, the last installement in Frater's As the World Dies series, a LOT of beloved characters die. (Hence the destruction of a perfectly good pair of contact lenses.) In a world over-run by zombies, where humans are the minority, it made sense that SOME beloved characters had to die. The story would not have been as good if the survivors of the zombie-apocalypse had it easy.

The death of each of these characters impacted me deeply. I grieved for their loss as if they were real people. But they were each so noble in their deaths, and all died fighting for something they believed in--a world safe from zombies. Their sacrifices made their deaths bearable. Rather than getting annoyed at the constant elimination of characters--as happens when I read books where characters are just killed for shock effect--their deaths brought a sense of completion because they died to make the world a better place.

I don't know if what I'm trying to say makes sense. I just felt like Frater gave her characters good ends. I didn't feel like she was trying to emotionally manipulate me because she didn't have any other tricks in her hat; I felt like she had created a world frought with peril, and death was both necessary and inevitable.

Can anyone else think of a book where characters die good deaths?

10 comments:

  1. You're right she handles the deaths awesomelly, especially giving what the jerks deserve. And the ones we care about leave a mark. She's definitely good as emotional scenes. I totally love this series as you know. So happy you read and enjoyed it too! :)

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  2. @ Giselle - Thanks for getting me hooked on this series! I never would have looked at it twice if not for your review.

    And yeah, I totally loved it when she killed off Paige and Blanche!

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  3. A zombie book that made you cry?! I'm going to have to go against my avoid zombie books policy and check these out.

    I know exactly what you're saying about giving characters good deaths. It is possible and they deserve it. Finnick from THGs had the worst death ever and I was livid!

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    1. @ Jenny - I am so glad you mentioned Finnick! I was really mad when he died. It just served no point whatsoever!

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  4. LOL at your coworker's "I Love Edward" t-shirt. If that doesn't get her mocked quite a bit, I don't know what will. She had it coming!

    I always find it easier to stomach a character death if it serves a good function in the story, or is just the inevitability of the stakes getting so high. Perilous settings should equal some deaths. If they didn't, it'd seem pretty unrealistic and obvious that the author is just too afraid to truly follow through with the raised stakes and the consequences of them.

    As sad as it is to see a fave character die, it's nice when it serves a purpose, or that their death actually matters to the other characters in the story.

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    1. @ Cathy - In this book, it was the inevitability of high stakes, but the good guys did go out with a bang serving a greater cause. That made it okay and, in a way, awesome. :)

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  5. It's funny but people dying in books isn't something that I ever get hung up on. Especially in a zombie book where the whole point of the book is that people are dying left right and center. It's when people don't die at all where I think it's completely unrealistic and get bored of a story. I don't necessarily think people should have meaningful deaths either. At least not all of them. In real life, people die unexpectedly all the time. I think I'm just really cynical/morbid.

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    1. @ Lan - Heh, you crack me up. I think because real life doesn't always give folks "good" deaths, I like fiction to be a little different. Fantasy world, ya know?

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  6. I keep saying I won't read this series. But you are surely winning me over. Great review, Camille!

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    1. @ Andrea - maybe you'll become a zombie convert like me! LOL

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