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Lit Trends We’re Over: Back to Life in Time for the Happy Ending

Sofia Alvarado Mendoza ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Love triangles, an average girl that turns out to not be so average, and totalitarian governments have all been all the rage in what is called Young Adult literature. While most of these are still around, there is a new trope making its way through the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genre: killing off main characters and bringing them back to life later in the story. Understanding its appeal for both readers and writers is easy, which might be why it has become so popular. However, the message it is getting across might make writers think twice about using it again.

Writers continue to use said trope for the following reason: it allows them to create drama without alienating their readers. In a Fantasy or Sci-Fi novel, in which the largest war or revolution is underway, it only makes sense for several characters to lose their lives; especially when they find themselves at the heart of the battle. Writers seem to understand this concept, but in fear of alienating readers by killing their favorite characters, or ruining the happy ending they bring back the characters they so bravely killed off.

There is no denying that readers hate to see their favorite characters die, however, there is also no denying that they love to complain, discuss, and cry about it. Are readers happy when the so-called dead character is not so dead after all, and comes sweeping in just in time for the happily ever after? Sometimes, but only if it is what the story demands. The problem is not necessarily the trope, but rather that it has been used so widely to the point of being considered highly unoriginal. This changes the reader’s reaction from happiness about a returning character to being bored by it happening yet again. The trope is found in the same type of books. It is likely that a reader will read a lot of the same genre, which is why the probability of him or her coming across the trope several times is very much likely. When this happens, readers see the plot twist coming even before the killed characters has uttered his last sentence.

Is this trope really that popular? Yes, while in different capacities, it is still found in many books. The first one that comes to mind is the case of Alex Sheathes. At the end of the second book in the Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver, readers were not so shocked to discover that Lena’s first true love was still alive and back in time to create drama in her new relationship. Another notable example is that of Jace Wayland, who was resuscitated by an angel per request of his sister turned girlfriend at the end of City of Glass. The magic revival of vampire bodyguard Dimitri from Vampire Academy from his dead-like state is also worth mentioning.

All of the aforementioned examples point out what is the biggest issue with the trope. It is always the male romantic lead that is killed and then brought back to life to set up the happy ending. Authors are implying that the powerful, strong, female lead they spent hundreds of words developing is worth nothing unless she has a man on her arm by the end of the book. Does the girl who just saved the world need a man on her arm? Is it not better to show readers that women do not need men to measure their worth better than using a technique that has been severely overused?

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