I mean, really?!
I don’t know why, but it can seem like the death of animals are even more devastating than the death of people, at least in books and movies and other mediums. Maybe it’s because animals seem more innocent, especially family pets that might look up to humans as companions and people who are supposed to protect and care for them. In fact, I saw an episode of a sitcom where they lampshaded this fact by talking about a family who had been murdered in their house, but the anger and shock was bigger when the person mentioned that the family dog was killed as well (and why, yes, this indeed was a comedy with a bit of a twisted humor), and I feel like that happens a lot. I mean, how many people do you know who hate those ASPCA commercials that have a super-sad song playing over images of sad animals? I know I always change the channel when they’re on because I just cannot handle the sadness!
So, I definitely hate it when the books I’m reading through this in. It’s gotten to the point where I’m worried whenever someone has a pet, especially in paranormal or dystopian books, but contemporary pets aren’t necessarily safe either. I’ve read my fair share of books that have animals dying or getting hurt, all in an attempt to twist my heartstrings. Well, guess what – I’m already a super-sensitive reader, and in most cases, I’m already invested enough that I don’t need an adorable – or even weird-looking, if I’m being fair to all animals – pet dying!
And that’s what it usually feels like to me – a cheap trick to get readers emotionally invested into a story without trying as hard to create a sympathetic protagonist. I mean, who’s more sympathetic – a protagonist who’s trying to save the day or one who’s trying to save the day while dealing with the death of their beloved childhood pet? Maybe I’m just different, but I’m already going to be inclined to care about the latter more, even if I don’t want to.
And that’s my problem – it seems like manipulation, so it can really backfire. Not to mention that it’ll make me sad when I really don’t need to be.
It’s gotten to the point where I wish people would include “ANIMAL DEATH” or something in their reviews and such. I hate spoilers just as much as the next person, but this is one case where I want to be spoiled so that I can avoid the heartache if necessary. As a result, I’m more likely to do the same in my own reviews – but what seems like a helpful warning to me could be a frustrating spoiler for the next person. So, I still try to warn people that I’m about to talk about a spoiler, but what if it’s the kind of spoiler that they would like to know ahead of time. How do I say “you actually want to read this spoiler because it warns about animal death” without spoiling the fact that there’s an animal death?
So, authors, if you could just make animals magically safe from everything, from animal cruelty to simple old age, that would be greatly appreciated. Or am I the only person who freaks out way too much when the adorable kitten introduced at the beginning doesn’t make it to the end?