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?