I just finished reading a book in which the main character, near the end of the book, is diagnosed with cancer and dies. ARGH! Why do authors DO that? Don't they know that most of us read for entertainment, and investing our time in getting to know and relate to a main character only to have him or her die is no fun?
Some years ago, I read a book by LuAnn Rice, and I really enjoyed it until I got to the end and the main character died of cancer--right after finding Mr. Right. I've never picked up another LuAnn Rice book. More recently, I read a book about a relationship between two friends; near the end of the book, one is diagnosed with cancer and dies. I didn't think that one was quite as bad because there were TWO main character and the story was about their relationship over the years; the death of one of them wasn't quite as much of a shock, particularly when balanced with the richness of the rest of the narrative.
This last book, though--well, I'm just annoyed. In the first place, it took a little bit for me to get into the book--I nearly put it down a couple times. However, there was just enough in the story to keep me reading, and near the end, I had started to enjoy it. The main character had experienced several of life's setbacks but had persevered and was finally becoming successful and finding some happiness in her life. She had several friends, and the book told their stories as well. Of course, just when things were starting to resolve nicely for everyone, the main character was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died at a fairly young age, leaving behind a teenage daughter.
In my view, inflicting a main character with cancer that results in death is simply an author's gratuitous attempt to provoke a reader's emotional response and/or quickly end a book without putting further time and effort into the story line. And why is it always CANCER? Is cancer "sexier" than, for instance, a ruptured appendix, diverticulitis, or an aneurysm? How about having the main character get run over by a bus? Step on a bar of soap and fall in the shower? Die of a heart attack while jogging? No?
I don't insist on reading only happy books, but when I've spent time with a character who dies in the end--well, I just feel manipulated and I don't like it. How about you? Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to reading?
I had a friend who used to always read the last chapter of a book first. I always thought that was a strange thing to do because I preferred to be surprised, but in this case, I wish I had read the end first. Now it's time for me to go browse my bookshelf and see if I can find something there more worthy of my time.