(Contains spoilers of the Vampire Diaries book series--run and hide if you don't want to know!)
A couple weeks ago, I had this crazy idea to try reading the Vampire Diaries. One of my friends has been pushing it on me for a while, and the TV show (or at least the actors) is pretty good. So I got book one from the library. And now I'm halfway through the third volume.
I think the first book was my favorite--the writing itself wasn't anything overly special, but after only a few sentences I would have a total mental image of what I was reading. But with vampires, the whole I want to be with you forever, kill me and drink my blood and make me like you! topic inevitably comes up.
I think death has a special place in YA and fiction in general. I know a lot of people have complained about the lack of parents in YA. I personally don't mind, but I think that death has to affect your characters in a way that almost nothing else can. I've also read a lot of blog posts and articles that explicitly say you can't kill your characters at the beginning of the book. It just doesn't work.
When your characters die, they become something else--something that readers don't connect with nearly as much. This is true for me, anyways. In the vampire diaries, Elena (the MC) not only dies and becomes a vampire--she dies again, this time for good. But then she comes back as a child-like spirit thing. And then she turns into her old, human self.
Is your head spinning, too?
Not only is confusing to keep all the characters and their states of life-or-death straight, it makes it really difficult to connect to Elena when her personality keeps changing. To me, death in fiction is like the ultimate plot twist. It should be used only when absolutely necessary, it should affect everyone else to the very core of their being, and, once death happens, you can't back out of it.