A Fascination with Fiction

The extraordinary thing about fiction is its tricky ability to absolutely, entirely, and utterly control you. Reading is an odd thing, in itself. We sit down and voluntarily read about other people’s lives. And it infuriates us. We create followings, fandoms, and fan-fiction. We obsess over fictional people and fictional worlds and create fictional scenarios where we escape boring reality and invent adventures to create a more exciting life. Strangely, we occasionally (or always) allow these stories to change us. On the milder side, we may allow a rotten ending to damper our mood or maybe cast a shadow on a perfectly good Saturday. Slightly more obsessive, we devote hours of our time integrating ourselves into a fictional world (cough, Pottermore, cough).

When discussing the effects of fiction on our life, we cannot avoid the ultimate trigger, the one thing that can completely overturn our thoughts, feelings, or ideas about a book: the ending. The horrible, soul-crushing end. At times we are just flat out angry. We fondly refer to it as the flip-the-desk feeling, like at the end of every Rick Riordan novel ever written (will he ever run out of cliff hangers?). Or the frustration when the author thinks,” I’m tired of writing, so I guess I’ll just stop,” like Mockingjay, or the pinnacle of fury, Allegiant. Upon finishing Allegiant, we all looked down and weighed the pros and cons of flinging the disgusting object across the library while screaming, “No!”.

On the slightly less violent side, fiction can shock us like no real situation could. For example, you find out that the hero has a psychotic wife in the attic (Jane Eyre), or that his father really is Darth Vader (Star Wars), or that your perfect boyfriend is sparkly vampire (Twilight).

Books occasionally inspire good feelings. While this occurs less often, because authors are immoral people who sit in their caves and plot stories designed to ruin our lives, it has been known to happen. For example, when you discover that Mr. Darcy is a good person, or when Harry Potter kills Voldemort, or when the Twilight series finally ended. But perhaps the most important aspect to come out of reading is the lessons we learn from it. We learn that good conquers evil, and it is possible to do what is right even when it is hard. We learn to never volunteer as tribute for your sister in the sinister game of death, because she is just going to die anyway.

We may never get over Augustus Waters fully, but at least we know the heartbreak will never end. There will always be another character to fall in love with, or an author we wish to murder. The great thing about fiction is that is fictional. It can be anything we want.