Favorites Friday: Best Concepts of Death

Posted January 10, 2014 in Favorites Friday / 0 Comments

May Bird and the Ever After (May Bird, #1)

Most people aren’t very comfortable in the woods, but the woods of Briery Swamp fit May Bird like a fuzzy mitten. There, she is safe from school and the taunts and teases of kids who don’t understand her. Hidden in the trees, May is a warrior princess, and her cat, Somber Kitty, is her brave guardian.

Then May falls into the lake.
When she crawls out, May finds herself in a world that most certainly does not feel like a fuzzy mitten. In fact it is a place few living people have ever seen. Here, towns glow blue beneath zipping stars and the people —people? — walk through walls. Here the Book of the Dead holds the answers to everything in the universe. And here, if May is discovered, the horrifyingly evil Bo Cleevil will turn her into nothing.
May Bird must get out.
Within these pages, Jodi Lynn Anderson shares with us the beginning of May Bird’s daring journey into the Ever After, a haunting place where true friends — and one terrible foe — await her on every corner.
Comments: This book series is quite possibly the best I’ve read concerning the dead and the afterlife, which is surprising because it’s a MG. (But it’s clear I love reading MGs.) But here the afterlife is depicted as a place kind of like Earth, with residences, jobs, landscapes, amusement parks, oceans, and other Earth-like features, only it’s for the dead. I always hoped my afterlife would be something like this, except without the threat of evil. There are also some interesting issues concerning death towards the end of the book, but as I haven’t reviewed it yet I won’t give anything away.
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.
Comments: This trilogy also offers an interesting glimpse of what the afterlife may be like. In this series, one of Gemma’s friends actually dies, and lives on in the Realms, the magical world they have access to. The Realms are a place of magic where anything is possible, you have only to wish for it. So it’s not a bad place to end up, except for, of course, the evil lurking there. So which would be better? A place where anything is possible or a place that closely resembles home? An eternity of it, remember. Choose wisely.
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Comments: This series remains one of the few series’ (books and movies) where death seems so real to me, and for that I applaud the author. It seems like such a possibility, in real life as well as the books. We as teenagers think we are immortal, but that is not the case. We are very, very mortal, and forcing us to kill each other in the Games helps us realize that. We only have one life to live. It is so easy to break us. Humans are fragile. Death is cruel.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
‘His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.’ With these words “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” draws to a close. And here, in this seventh and final book, Harry discovers what fate truly has in store for him as he inexorably makes his way to that final meeting with Voldemort. In this thrilling climax to the phenomenally bestselling series, J.K. Rowling will reveal all to her eagerly waiting readers.

Comments: This may have been the first book I read that introduced the idea of sacrifice in such a real way. As Harry walks through the school and the grounds, mentally saying goodbye to everything/one and preparing for his own death, that was when I truly realized how hard it would be to sacrifice yourself and how little of a choice you’d have. It was real. Some people say suicide is an act of fear. But it is actually an act of great bravery. ‘I died so that you might live.’ Just think about that statement for a minute. One life in exchange for another. In the end, does it really matter? Do I care if you’re living if I’m dead? And we’re all going to die anyway. That’s also what makes it hard.

Into the Wild (Warriors, #1)

For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their warrior ancestors. But the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger, and the sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying–and some deaths are more mysterious than others. In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary house cat named Rusty . . . who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

Comments: This is a MG series, but I will never stop raving about it. (Plus it’s about cats :D) So one of these books marks the first time a book ever caused me to become so emotionally wrecked that I could not stop crying (and this was in elementary school). The deaths in these books are harsh. And quite frequent. I wouldn’t say unnecessarily frequent, but  they do happen a lot. You kind of have to detach yourself a little to save your nerves. Anyway, these books treat death as if it’s a sort of everyday thing, and in the world of animals, it is. Death happens all the time. Using the sentiment described in Daughter of Smoke & Bone (a completely unrelated book by Laini Taylor), a thing can be, and in the next second it can simply not be. It was, and then it unwas. Such as a frog eating a fly. The act itself is a little more heartwrenching in the series, but the idea is the same. Death happens. We can try to avoid it, but in the end, it will be the end of all things for one creature and the rest of the world goes on until it’s their turn. It’s a bit cynical, but it’s true.

Summaries provided by Goodreads. Green font represents my own personal explanation.


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