He killed off the protagonist. You know…the main character.
I was so looking forward to the end of this particular story. The author had me hooked after he got through some of the rough first couple of chapters, as most authors do. I couldn’t put it down, and I just had to know how this whole situation was going to play out. The roller coaster had clunked up its final hill and was beginning its arc over the top down toward the heart-stopping rush of the conclusion.
And then…he killed the story.
But wait, you say – that’s perfectly normal! Many authors do it, so why should this have bothered me? Maybe I should back up and clarify my stance – the killing of the main character isn’t the thing that perturbs me.
What really gets my goat…nay…what irritates my goat to the point of it wanting to head butt the author in the hindquarters is when they kill them off for no good reason. Especially when they do it after an epic build-up that essentially nullifies the entire story.
Killing off a random character here or there is perfectly fine in my eyes. Heck, everyone knew when watching Star Trek that the red-shirted away team member was going to eat it by the end of the episode. He/she had no vested interest, and just added some fodder to the plot line.
The demise of a main character, if indeed the story calls for it, needs to be handled very carefully.
The author should spend the entire novel leading the reader through a journey of hills and valleys, culminating in the protagonist resolving the primary plot line (or at least having help to do it, if he/she can’t do it alone). It’s really bad form to have someone other than the protagonist resolve the plot line without his/her help. And it’s just absurd to build up a story to where the reader anticipates the protagonist’s resolving actions, and then have the character die a heinous death without resolving anything.
The latter is where this one wound up, and it left me not only shaking my head, but essentially vowing to never read another story by this particular author. Which is a true shame, because despite it not even being in my favorite genre (SciFi, in case you missed it), the author did a magnificent job of keeping me turning those pages.
Furthermore, I’ll read hundreds of other novels going forward – many of which will not grasp my attention the way this one did, but yet they will handle the death of a protagonist in the proper way.