They say only those you love most can truly hurt you with betrayals, right? So what could be worse than having one of your fictional babies turn around and throw your love right back in your face? Ditto to authors you’ve wholeheartedly trusted. Here are five betrayals from the fictional world that I still haven’t gotten over.
5. The Darkling from the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Did you guys see it coming? Probably. Did I? Nope. That’s cool, Leigh Bardugo, shatter my heart in the first book of your series, whydontcha.
4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Those of you who read my discussion about this book might be surprised to see it on this list, considering I gave it a 4 stars and (mostly) loved it. If you haven’t read it and want to keep it a COMPLETE surprise, I’d skip this part RIGHT NOW. Are you ready? The queer baiting – I honestly expected better from J.K. Rowling. She had an incredible opportunity to branch out with a diverse relationship and prompt some really, really important conversations and yet she ended up taking the easy way out. Think of the reach that J.K.Rowling has and what an incredible impact CC would’ve made if there was diverse representation in the play – needless to say, the blatant queer baiting felt like an immense betrayal.
3. Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas
When talking about character transformations, there’s no way you could leave out Celaena from the discussion. And whilst I’m proud of her for breaking free of the men who sought to use and oppress her, I can’t say that I applaud her treatment of her friends and allies. As the series progresses, she seems to care less and less about how her actions will impact the people who love her. Sure, she’s looking at the bigger picture – but there are individuals who are part of that picture, willing to lay down their lives for her and they deserve to know what they’re getting themselves into. The person Celaena was in Queen of Shadows and Empire of Storms felt like a betrayal of the big hearted, empathetic girl in the first 3 books of the series.
1. Cress (both the book and the character) by Marissa Meyer
This is going to sound savage, but I feel like this book went back about 100 years in the development of the strong, independent female character. And I don’t mean strong in the flame-throwing, kick-ass way – Tessa Gray, Hermione Granger and Lizzie Bennett have proven themselves as role models as much as Katniss-I-have-impeccable-aim-Everdeen has. Cress, on the other hand, spends the majority of the book relying on a male character she’s infatuated with to rescue her from various dire situations, dreams of having her way with him rather than thinking of possible escape plans, constantly refers to herself as a ‘damsel in distress’ and whines about the possibility of dying without ever being kissed.
As for the book itself, I can’t even describe how I felt about the way it perpetuated the idea that you can fall in love with someone based purely on some fantasy you’ve put together without having actually met them, and that even when reality shatters that fantasy, you can still mould them into what you want them to be, and get them to fall in love with you if you’re just persistent enough.
This book and this character felt like a betrayal of my gender and a betrayal of every book and character that has tried to do away with the damsel in distress trope. To a certain extent, I can sympathise with Cress’ need for human closeness given her isolation, but then I remember the movie ‘Tangled’, where Rapunzel hits the first man she ever lays eyes on with a frying pan and suddenly I’m much, much less forgiving.
2. Tris Prior from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth
Nope, this isn’t a formatting error – I’ve hidden my reasons for #2 behind a page break because of the spoilers for Allegiant. Read at your own peril 😉
I’d like to share this quote from Allegiant:
Did Tris make her choice out of necessity? Did she exhaust all possible options? In my opinion – no. There were about a hundred other choices she could’ve made that would still ensure her loved ones would remain safe and alive, without having to make a ridiculous sacrifice that I honestly felt was written more for the shock factor and to prove that Veronica Roth wasn’t squeamish about killing off her main characters. Her death was not logical and it was not necessary. So this particular plot point felt like a betrayal from Tris to her family and friends and a betrayal from Veronica Roth to her readers.
For excellent examples of sacrifices made out of love and necessity and not just because you’ve been harbouring a suicidal hero complex since book one, I’d encourage you to pick up Harry Potter, or any Cassandra Clare book.
Now it’s your turn! What are some book betrayals you just can’t get over?