It’s my birthday! I’m 21 today! This isn’t really a ‘big’ birthday in the UK, there isn’t anything that I can do now that I couldn’t do three years ago, but whatever! It’s my birthday! It’s time to celebrate!
Because it’s my birthday, and because this is my blog, I want to do something self indulgent.
The series Death Note is one of my favourites. It’s not perfect by any means, there are some serious issues with it, but these characters live in my head rent free and there’s no way I could hope to even begin to estimate how much fanfic I’ve read for this series. I love the anime, I love the manga, I love the 2015 TV drama (which is seriously underrated), and I love the musical.
Yes, musical. It was originally written in English, although it’s only ever been fully performed in Japan and South Korea. It adapts the first two arcs of the series and then adds an original ending that draws on the endings used in the series’ other iterations. The English soundtrack can be found on YouTube, and it’s really good. When I first listened to it I genuinely did not expect it to be so good, but y’all, it’s legitimately amazing. As both a Death Note fan and a former theatre kid this musical was an attack on me personally and there was at least a month nearly a year ago where this soundtrack was literally all I listened to.
This is niche, and I don’t really have any close book-blogging friends yet, and I’m anxious about asking if anyone wants to be tagged, so I’m not going to tag anyone to do this. If you want to do this tag for themself then please feel free! And please let me know so I can see your answers! It would make me so incredibly happy!
(I’m going to talk a little about each song, and give a snippet of its lyrics, before saying which book I chose for its corresponding prompt, because self indulgence. Just work with me here, okay? Also, spoilers for Death Note ahead)
Where Is The Justice? – A book/series that discusses contemporary issues and injustices
“Let the corporations make the regulations, and all go unaccountable when everything goes wrong. Let the rich and famous get away with murder. Every time a high-priced mouthpiece starts to talk his client gets to walk. Tell me where is the justice?”
Light’s anger at the police force and the justice system is understandable, and he’s right that the current system isn’t fit for purpose. He later proceeds to go completely the wrong way about trying to make things better, but his initial motivations are ones that I think a lot of people share. These lines in particular feel very relevant right now.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
This is a general and sweeping statement, but everything is awful right now. This book feels like a response to that. The world in Pet is set in a near future in which people have collectively decided that enough is enough. The revolution happened! All the ‘bad’ people (billionaires, police, rapists, etc) have been rehabilitated, there are no more wars, and bigotry in all its forms doesn’t exist anymore. But all these things still happened, and the main character learns more about them over the course of the book. She’s horrified that the world could ever look like this and that people could ever treat each other like that, and she’s even more horrified at the prospect that the bad people aren’t quite as gone as everyone likes to say that they are.
They’re Only Human – A non-human character with Opinions™ (of any kind) about humanity
“Look at how they crawl around upon the ground like little ants. Yes, but how they fascinate confusing fate with what is merely chance.”
This song is a duet between the two main shinigami, Ryuk and Rem. Ryuk is entertained by humans, especially by their suffering. Rem is less entertained by them and more intrigued by them. They both agree that humans are rather stupid, which in my opinion is fair enough.
Talis from the Prisoners of Peace series by Erin Bow
Talis is a sentient AI who humanity created on purpose with the specific task of telling them how to stop all wars. Talis proceeded to bomb the shit out of major cities until everyone submitted to his rule. He set up a system where all country leaders have to surrender a child to live in special boarding schools, and if a leader decides to go to war then their hostage is killed. Obviously, Talis doesn’t think very highly of humans and their inability to play nicely with each other without this threat hanging over their heads, and he’s also unimpressed by the fact that apparently nobody involved in his creation saw his takeover coming. Did we learn nothing from HAL indeed.
Hurricane – A protagonist that has personally and intentionally killed people
“The human stains and all their sins blown away”
Some protagonists try to avoid killing people. Some protagonists end up killing people accidentally. And some protagonists, for whatever reason, know exactly what they’re doing when they cause the death of somebody else. Light falls into this third category, and this song is him making the decision to be that person. If anything, his slide from just wanting to make the world better to wanting to be a God happens faster in the musical than in any other version. The first verse has him shocked that the notebook even worked, and he’s declaring himself to be a God by the middle-eight.
Thomas from The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
I have a lot of complicated feelings about this series to the point where it’s probably worthy of its own blog post and I’m not getting into all of it here. An extremely long story short is that the films (and fandom) are genuinely worth your time and the books are most definitely not. Don’t read this series and don’t give your money to Dashner. But book!Thomas kills someone with his bare hands near the end of The Death Cure, and ends up having to be pulled off the corpse by someone else because he’s so blinded by rage that the fact that the guy is dead already doesn’t register strongly enough for him to stop attacking him. It’s brutal.
Kira – A character that serves as a self insert for the reader
“For there really isn’t very much to do, so now and then we spy on you”
Despite this song’s name, it’s not actually about Light/Kira (much). It’s Ryuk’s character song. Ryuk’s role in the story of Death Note isn’t to help Light, or to hinder him. He only gets involved in the story if there’s specifically something in it for him. For the most part, he’s just there to watch what’s happening and be entertained. Much like the audience and/or reader is there for entertainment. He’s us.
Bella Swan from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
There isn’t anything that I can say on this topic that hasn’t been said already. I only ever read this book once, when I was twelve, so my memory of it is admittedly not great, although I was gently bullied by some of my friends into watching the movie for the first time a lot more recently. Bella’s personality is definitely on the weaker side, which lets the reader have an easier time filling in the blanks with their own traits and/or projecting onto her. There isn’t actually anything wrong with this. More power to those who enjoy it! There are plenty of serious issues with the Twilight series that can be discussed, criticised, and condemned. Bella Swan’s personality doesn’t register as a concern.
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I’m Ready – A character who’s a singer, part of a band, or famous in some way
“I’m ready! Yes, I’m ready! And I hope that baby you’re ready too.”
This song is diegetic, it exists and is performed in-universe. Much like in the 2015 TV drama, Misa is a pop idol in this version of the story, and this is one of her songs. It introduces her as a character and foreshadows that love is a big part of her motivation throughout the rest of the story. In the anime/manga Misa is a model and actress. A key constant of her character is that she’s a celebrity, which you’d think would make her more wary with the notebook given how it works, but this generally isn’t something that occurs to her.
Jimmy from I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
This book is told from two perspectives. There’s Angel, who’s a huge fan of a band called The Ark, and there’s Jimmy, who’s the frontman of the band. This book is a really interesting exploration of band fandom, fame, and the toll that being famous and being the target of a band fandom can have on people. As anyone familiar with One Direction fans in that group’s heyday, or with K-Pop fans now, can attest, those fandoms can be an important part of someone’s life, and they can also be incredibly wild and not always in a good way.
We All Need a Hero – A book/series featuring a sibling relationship that you love
“Believing that deep inside we’ll find there is some kind of hero too, like the one I found in you”
Sayu is a minor character. Naturally, she’s one of my favourite characters from this series, although admittedly I have a lot of favourites from this series. When Sayu shows up in the early chapters of the manga and early episodes of the anime it’s obvious that she and Light are very close and care a lot about each other. Later on in the series, Light comes up with flimsy excuses to explain away his actions, but the fact remains that the one person he’s never able to bring himself to kill is his little sister.
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Is it a cop out to defer to the ultimate sibling relationship? Probably. Is that going to stop me? No. Edward and Alphonse love each other so much, they (along with their childhood friend Winry) are each other’s best friend in the world, and they have each other’s back no matter what happens. Their personalities contrast and complement each other perfectly and they make the best team. Ed may be the title character, but these two are equally important and share the protagonist role 50/50. Al is the only character who can get away with calling his sibling ‘brother’ in the English version. From anyone else I’d be yelling that siblings don’t do that in real life, but Al is a sweetheart who can do whatever the hell he wants.
The Game Begins – A character who actively chose to involve themself in their work’s main plot
“The game begins the same way. The chase is on. The die is cast.”
Obviously there wouldn’t be much of a story if L had never decided to take Kira down, but it wasn’t like he was being forced to do it. Just like Light chose to start killing people, L chose to try and identify him. Plus, L got involved because he finds difficult cases like these interesting, not because he felt like he had a moral duty to stop a serial killer. He had the option to not get involved. That he did get involved is on him.
Jade from Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin
Jade obviously didn’t choose to get assaulted, but she did choose every single action she and her friends took after that. She chose to transfer to the same school as her attackers, she chose to infiltrate their friendship group, she chose to manipulate them so that they would literally kill each other off, and whenever she got personally involved with the killings she chose to do that too. She had the option to not do any of this, but she decided to kill them all. To be clear, she has my utmost respect. What an icon. Destroy them.
There Are Lines – A character with a strict moral compass
“Nothing wrong can turn out right by saying wrong’s alright to do”
According to the original creators of the manga, Soichiro is the only truly good character in the whole series. Interestingly his moral compass is at its strictest in the musical. In all other versions he has a clearer sense of right and wrong than the other characters, and there are some things he refuses to do or condone that other characters might be more okay with, but it’s only in the musical that his own moral code is such that it makes him dislike L.
Ned Stark from the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin
This was actually a really hard prompt to pick an answer for, because the best answer is Soichiro Yagami himself, and I’m trying not to use Death Note as an answer in a Death Note inspired tag. But I have actually read A Game of Thrones, and as basically everybody knows at this point, Ned’s strict adherence to only doing the ‘right’ and ‘honourable’ thing gets him killed in the end. Everyone around Ned was telling him that doing the right thing and sticking to the truth would just end up putting him and his family in danger, but doing the wrong thing and perpetuating a lie was so unimaginable to him that he did it anyway. His death may have come at the end of the first book but it’s very much an inciting incident for the rest of the series. Not that I have any intention of ever finishing this series, are you kidding me? I have way better things to do with my time.
Secrets and Lies – A character without a strict moral compass
“The line is quickly burring between what’s right and what is not. I don’t care who gets hurt now as long as I get one more shot.”
Light and L sing this line together twice, which pretty much says it all. By this point, L has let someone die to protect himself, and Light has killed people who, as far as he knew, hadn’t done anything wrong in an attempt to get to L. They’re both doing things that are ‘wrong’ even by the standards of their final goal, but so long as they achieve their final goal they don’t care how they get there.
Basically the whole cast from the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy
Valkyrie learns that at least some part of her is destined to turn evil and kill thousands of people and she doesn’t remove herself from the situation that’s guaranteed to lead her there. Skulduggery used to be one of the most powerful, and most evil, sorcerers in the world’s history and is still prone to hurting and killing people in the present. Tanith spent a long time as an assassin and it shows. China exists, and she’s seized power over the entire magical community in Ireland. And these are all ‘good’ characters, there are plenty of side characters with varying degrees of villainy and moral ambiguity. It’s a lot easier to count the characters who aren’t okay with torture than it is the count the characters who are. You’d think that being tortured themselves would make them not want to inflict that on others at all costs, but apparently not! This is a favourite series of mine, but there’s hardly a moral compass to be found, let alone a strict one.
Mortals and Fools – A romantic relationship you weren’t a fan of
“Try as I will, I just don’t understand it”
Nobody ships Light and Misa less than Rem. Except maybe Light himself, but he’s not in this scene.
Clary and Jace from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
I read City of Bones when I was ~14 on the recommendation of one of my best friends at the time. She insisted that I would adore Jace, and that his relationship with Clary was amazing. I couldn’t have disagreed with her more. Jace was irritating at best, and incest is a huge squick for me. I know they’re not really siblings, but in the first couple of books they think that they are, and it made for a really unpleasant reading experience. I gave up on this series part of the way through City of Ashes, specifically while Clary and Jace had been ordered to kiss each other in front of everyone by fairies(? It’s been a long time and I don’t own a copy anymore so I can’t check) and they both just went for it. No judgement if you like this series or their relationship, but I can’t.
Stalemate – A book with a battle, competition, or conflict that doesn’t result in a clear winner
“All or nothing so let’s get to it. This time’s stalemate, but just you wait.”
In most versions of the story, the exact moment that L and Light meet for the first time is shown as a victory for L. The musical frames it as a draw. However, there’s a stretch of time following their first meeting where neither of them are able to make any major moves against the other. Tests are carried out and accusations are aired but no real progress is made by either of them. It takes an outside influence that neither of them could’ve predicted to get things moving again.
Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3) by Kendare Blake
There’s a confrontation near the end of this book that results in a loss for everyone. Katharine discovers that she’s not as in control of the dead queens as she thought she was, and her goal of eliminating all possible rivals to the throne doesn’t get achieved. Her sisters are still alive and Jules is still alive. As for Jules, Arsinoe, and Mirabella, there are significant casualties on their side, and a significant weakness of theirs is exposed. Nobody involved was happy with the way things in this book were left off. Everyone was hurting, there was a civil war brewing, and there was no way of knowing what direction the story was going to go in next.
I’ll Only Love You More – A book featuring unrequited love
“If I find you maybe love me too, I’ll only love you more”
The original creators of the manga have gone on record to say that Light is incapable of being attracted to a woman, let alone loving one. Whether this makes him aspec, achillean, or both is up to the reader, but what this definitely means is there is never a hope of a chance that he could ever like Misa back.
The Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Akira, one of the pov characters in this book, is in love with the main character Mari. She doesn’t see him that way. She cares about him, but as a friend, not romantically. This is their relationship at the start of the book, this is their relationship at the end of the book, and Akira accepts this. He feels his feelings and doesn’t deny them but he also doesn’t act on them because he knows that they won’t be reciprocated, and when he does things to help Mari it’s not because he’s hoping they’ll get together later but because he cares about her and so wants to help her. It was a really rare portrayal of unrequited love and I appreciated the way that Jean wrote it.
Honor Bound – A book where the villain/antagonist is a family member of the hero/protagonist
“My son is exactly who he seems to be”
Lovers to enemies is one thing, but what about brothers to enemies? What about parent and child to enemies? Light always looked up to his father, and Soichiro was always proud of his son. Light being Kira is the ultimate betrayal. Soichiro’s fate in the anime/manga, dying while convinced that his son is innocent, is the kindest outcome for him. The other versions of the story pile on the pain even more by letting him find out the truth.
The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
All the tragedy and all the deaths in this series are caused by the actions of BeiTech Industries, with the orders to torture and kill all these people coming directly from the Director of Aquisitions, Leanne Frobisher. Who just so happens to be Ezra Mason’s estranged and abusive mother. She’s not exactly happy when she finds out that her ex husband and son were living on the planet that she ordered to be bombed within an inch of its life, but she wouldn’t have made a different decision had she known about it, either.
Playing His Game – A book/series featuring an intense rivalry
“I’ll mimic his will and learn his routines and feel the same thrill whenever my end is served by his means”
This one basically speaks for itself. However you interpret their feelings about one another as people, L and Light are deadly serious about always trying to defeat each other. This song in particular is sung during their infamous tennis match – which Light wins, by the way.
Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui
I was struggling to pick one for this that doesn’t reach its natural conclusion of being enemies to lovers, and I’ve ended up picking a series that I technically haven’t read yet. I’ve watched the anime. I’m going to read this series eventually though, and the anime is loyal to the manga’s plot, so it counts! The rivalries in this series are the B-plot, but they’re present throughout. The entirety of class 3-E has a rivalry with class 3-A, and especially the top five scorers in that class. Within that there’s Karma Akabane’s personal rivalry with Gakushu Asano. Only one of them can do the absolute best in the year in all their exams, and they’re both determined for it to be them.
Borrowed Time – A character with undying loyalty to another
“You will never change my mind. I’d rather die than let you make me betray him.”
Misa would do anything for Light, and is prepared to let herself die to help him. But Light doesn’t even respect Misa, and you can forget about him returning her loyalty. If their positions at this point in the story were reversed he would rat her out in a heartbeat. Even if you don’t like Misa, it’s hard not to feel bad for her at this point.
The Happy Hungry Bunch from Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi
Yona has a lot of people with undying loyalty to her. Hak is her childhood friend, personal bodyguard who was entrusted with her safety by her murdered father, and he’s in love with her. The four dragon warriors are reincarnations of the original dragon warriors, and as Yona is the reincarnation of their original leader Hiryuu, they are obliged to be loyal to her even if they didn’t personally like her. Thankfully she’s a sweetheart and they’re all friends, so nobody’s being forced to stick around when they don’t want to. Even Yun and Lili are ride or die for Yona. And in turn, unlike Light for Misa, Yona is completely loyal to all of them right back, and they would all do anything for each other. This series is found family to the max, I love all these characters, and I love that they love each other so much!
When Love Comes – A sapphic book
“Share a kiss and then surrender when love comes”
In every version of the story it’s an undeniable fact that Rem loves Misa. It’s a plot point! The word ‘love’ is always used! The musical is the only version of the story that confirms that Rem’s love for Misa is romantic in nature. The rest leave it ambiguous, but as they never say that it isn’t romantic I like to extrapolate and assume that it is. It’s just a shame that this all comes in the form of the worst song of the soundtrack. It would’ve made more thematic sense for this to be a Mortals and Fools reprise! Not to mention that Mortals and Fools is a better song in the first place! The one undeniably queer moment in the whole show and they had to do this with it…
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
Audre is sent away from Trinidad to live with her American father after her mother catches her with another girl, and when she gets there she befriends and eventually falls for her father’s friend’s daughter, Mabel. Mabel’s family, and Audre’s father, are totally accepting of their daughters and their daughters’ sexualities, and they support their relationship completely, and that was so lovely to read. This book also deals with some heavy topics, such as queerphobia, the prison system, and terminal illness, so that’s something to be aware of if you were planning on reading it. If you are planning on reading it, the audiobook is apparently the best way of doing so!
The Way It Ends – A book with an unhappy ending, or an ending that you didn’t like
“Is this the way it ends now? How could I not see this coming?”
I don’t dislike the way that Death Note ends, but it’s not a happy ending. Everybody loses. The only person who makes it out unscathed is Ryuk, which is fitting considering his role as a reader/audience insert. But a lot of people dislike this ending, or the endings of the other versions, and I along with many others have read
(and written) fix-it fics for this series where an unhappy ending is averted.
The Island by M.A. Bennett
This book has a very happy ending and I hated it so much. The ending to the main part of the book was boring, a different outcome would’ve been more interesting but ultimately it didn’t inspire any strong feelings in me. My issue was more with the epilogue. Spoilers, obviously, but the epilogue flashes forward to when Link is the President of the USA, he’s married the main girl, and this is apparently a big deal because she’s the first ever First Lady to have tattoos! What a shocker! How controversial! A white allocishet man is President and has made history by having a white allocishet wife! Link was an asswipe for the majority of the book, the one thing that I didn’t want to see was all his dreams coming true. If this epilogue was removed then the ending would just be ‘meh’, the epilogue ruins what little the existing ending had going for it.
Requiem – A book where the narrator is recounting past events
“Tales full of fleeting glories, stories old as the word goodbye”
This epilogue song isn’t sung by any of the characters. Instead, it’s sung by the chorus, who basically take a step back and go ‘Well wasn’t that a mess?’. So for this prompt, a narrator who is somewhat removed from the story, or who acknowledges that they’re recounting something that already happened. Maybe even something meta!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book is narrated by Death. They tell you right at the start of the book how it’s going to end, because they already know it. They were there when it happened. Over the course of the book they get distracted by tangents to do with the various side characters that pop up through Lisel’s life, times when they met them, either through their own deaths or deaths that they witnessed. Death even speaks directly to the reader at times, and challenges them on their preconceived notion about what they look like or what they enjoy doing. It makes for a haunting story that, if you haven’t read already, you are missing out.
And that’s the tag done! This is the longest post on this blog to date, and if you made it all the way to the end then I salute you! Thank you so much for reading! If you do this tag then please drop a link to it down below, I’d love to see your answers! : D