What’s Up with all the Dead People?

Posted September 23, 2010 by Rowena in Discussions | 13 Comments

Yesterday, Ames and I were emailing back and forth talking about everything under the sun when she was telling me about the book she’s reading. She’s reading The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and while I’ve seen the cover around blogland, I couldn’t remember exactly what it was about.

Here’s the blurb:

17-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends most of her time tucked safely in the shadow of her outgoing sister, Bailey. Their mother left when Lennie was one, and their sisterhood — and the support of their wacky and loving Gran and perfectly Northern Californian hippie uncle — has pulled them through. So when Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie crumples. At first, it seems the only person who truly understands the depth of her loss is Bailey’s ex-boyfriend, Toby. Their mutual grief turns into something that seems confusingly like romance. Then there’s the nearly magical allure of Joe Fontaine, new boy in town and thrillingly talented musician, who is falling for Lennie as fast as she’s falling for him. One boy is like the sun, the other the moon; one takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But Joe’s been hurt before, and when he walks in on Lennie and Toby, Lennie is forced to take responsibility for her actions. What she discovers is not just love, but the strength to admit to her dreams of Julliard, confront her anger towards her mother, and ultimately, claim her rightful position as first clarinet — not just in the band, but in the crazy cacophony of her life.

When I asked Ames to tell me what the story was about, this is the short version of what she had to say:

A girl’s sister dies-she hooks up with her boyfriend and another guy. Its way more than that, its really good.

My reaction to that was…what’s up with all of the dead people? In YA, it seems that someone is almost always dead in a book. Whether they die in the beginning of the book, somewhere in the middle or end of the book or they died before the book started and we’re seeing the main characters cope with their loss.

Seriously, in the last five YA books that I read and reviewed for this blog…there was a lot of dead people. Let’s take a count, shall we?

1. In The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler, Marcus’ mother died and we see Macus and his father coping with their loss.
2. In Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma, Caleb’s mother died and though it’s not a big part of the storyline, death still rears its ugly head in the story.
3. In Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, the main character Anna is dealing with the death of her almost boyfriend and boy best friend Matt’s death.
4. In Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins– There’s all kinds of death in that book so I won’t even go there.
5. It All Started with a Dare by Lindsay Faith Rech– Nobody died in this one that I remember.

So out of 5 books, 4 of them had a death of some kind in them. What’s with all of the death going on in YA these days? I think it’s interesting and I guess I can’t complain because I enjoyed all of the books that I read with death in them (for the most part) but still, a girl’s got to wonder where all the death is coming from.

Any thoughts on this? Why do you think there’s so much death going on in YA these days? Are you a fan of the death stories or no? Do you have any thoughts on this?


13 responses to “What’s Up with all the Dead People?

  1. I’ve noticed that too! Either the main character is dealing with the death of somebody major, or the main character is, in fact, dead. Very strange!

  2. I noticed that too. I think it might be a bit of a trend. like all the werewolves/shape-shifter books.

    I like a good dealing with death book, but I can’t read many on a row.

  3. Hey there! Your blog was one of the blogs that caught my eye. Love it!

    As for the YA series – I think you should read Sarah Dessen. not sure if you have read it but she is one of my faves.

    Also – your blurb about Sun and the Moon gave me flashbacks of Twilight. Hhaha

  4. There is a lot of death in books these days but I do like most of those books. If it’s dealt with well then I like it. I think that death sells. I don’t know why but it does.

    BTW if you haven’t read The Sky Is Everywhere, you should. It’s amazing!

  5. Now that you listed all those books, it’s making me think of the ones I’ve read (that I can recall off the top of my head).

    Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour – Amy is dealing with the death of her father.
    Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles – someone dies in there.
    The Vast Fields of Ordinary – someone dies in there.

    That is quite a lot when you think about it!

    Also, I was on my blackberry when I wrote what the book was about, that’s why it’s so succinct. LOL

  6. Rowena


    Yeah, it seems to be a trend in YA fiction these days. I don’t even know why I’m complaining because I enjoyed all of the books that I’ve been reading. Color me crazy!


    Hey! Maybe that’s why I’m complaining…I don’t think I’d want to read about another death right now.

    Brahmin on Boston,

    Welcome to The Book Scoop! Glad you found me, Sarah Dessen is one of my favoritest YA authors right now. LOVE HER!


    Thanks, it’s on my wishlist so I’ll get around to it soon, I hope.

  7. Yes, there’s a lot of death in YA lately, I don’t even know why. But if you get the chance, I hope you read The Sky is Everywhere because it’s a lovely book. I really liked it. Another book that deals with death that I enjoyed reading was Before I Fall. I don’t mind reading about death in books but I think I’ve had my fill for now. 😛

  8. Rowena

    Oh yeah, I remember the Perfect Chemistry…I was kinda mad with that death.

    I need to hurry up and read the Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, I need to own that book.

  9. I think it’s such a large part of writing in general because it is such a life altering event that we can all in one way or another, within different levels of severity relate to. Plus many authors are fascinated by loss and overcoming it and what that means and how we go about it etc. I think anyways. 😉

  10. I agree there’s a lot of death in current YA. But isn’t there always a lot of death in YA? I think of books I read when I was younger and tons of them feature dead characters or dead relatives. Same with tons of adult and juv lit. I think it’s a perennial theme for literature.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.