My favourite part of reading, heck, of any form of entertainment (movies, TV, etc), is when the author completely and totally takes you by surprise and changes the stakes in a major way.
I experienced that in the Star Trek book I’m reading. For the book-reading-Trekkies among you, I’m reading Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Plagues of Night by David R George III. For the casual Trekkie fan, the Typhon Pact series takes place after all the TV and movie series and brings in elements of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and various pieces from other shows and book series. This book, specifically, has a Deep Space Nine focus, carrying forward with the characters from that cast.
I’m only partway through, reading along and enjoying the experience, and then all of a sudden we get a glimpse into the near-future and see a major character die. I was in the middle of a coffee shop reading this and actually said “Holy crap!” quite loudly.
That’s the power of storytelling — I was so into this story and the characters and care about them so much, that this twist, this sudden death of someone I’ve grown to love, took me completely and totally by surprise. I was thinking “NOOOO! You can’t do that!” On reflection, the death of this character (who was a regular, though not main cast, character on the show) makes sense given all that’s led up to it. It takes an excellent storyteller to surprise you with something that, ultimately, makes perfect sense.
My biggest experience with that was in reading Orphan’s Triumph by Robert Buettner, the final entry in the Jason Wander series. Throughout the five book series, Jason Wander is fighting against this unstoppable enemy that has slaughtered everyone that Jason has ever loved (and millions more). We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jason will finally meet the enemy face to face at the end of the book. It was so clearly foreshadowed halfway through Orphan’s Triumph. As I’m reading along, I’m thinking, “Okay, yeah, he has to face the enemy. If he doesn’t, it’s not right. And he’s gonna blow the f–ker outta space.”
And then… it happens… sort of. Jason Wander meets the enemy, this massive head of a hive mind alien species (so all of the aliens Jason has been fighting have been extensions of this hive mind) — and what does Jason do? I hate giving away endings, so I won’t explain it. What I WILL say, though, is that the ending to Orphan’s Triumph left be utterly stunned. I walked around in a daze for days because of what Buettner had so expertly performed in his writing. It was not at all what I was expecting — I was, like I said, utterly stunned — but in hindsight, it is the most perfect ending that could have possibly been written.
That is what I love about reading.
I’m curious — what are some “Holy crap!!!” moments you’ve experienced in reading?