Raise the stakes, please!

I just put down a big YA bestseller with only 100 pages to go. Why? Because I realized I no longer cared.

Oddly enough, the reason I no longer cared is that none of the characters I loved were in danger.

You would think that such a situation would be ideal. After all, I don’t enjoy it when characters are hurt or killed. I actually cried when one of the characters in The Hunger Games died. (Full on tears.)

And this book had plenty of scrapes. The main character is kidnapped. She’s forced to fight in a ring. (And if you lose three times, you are thrown to the crowd which rips you to pieces.) She falls into a river and nearly goes over a waterfall that would mean her certain death. She and her friends fight off giant clawed worms. (Those of you who have read this book will have guessed what it is by now.)

But you know what? Not one important character had died at the point I stopped reading. (Her father dies at the beginning, in the inciting incident, but you haven’t gotten to know him yet.) Not even an important animal. No character is even badly damaged. I started having a hard time paying attention to the latest adventure, because I knew they would find a way out a page or two later.

Life is precious because we know it is short. If we could all live forever, would we care about life as much? I think the very best books are willing to show us that it could all be on the line, and that sometimes the good guys lose (at least one battle, if not the war).

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Now feeling better about the fact that I just killed off an important character in my WIP.
So funny, I skimmed the last 150 pages or so of that book, including the giant clawed worms. I felt like I'd invested so much time, I had to at least be able to say "I finished it." But, now with distance, I can't even remember much. I think someone does die toward the end, but someone introduced fairly late in the story.
I realized I was just doggedly set on finishing it, and I thought "Why?"

Plus - and this is may be picky - she's not at all believable as a fighter. As someone who spars, I would be interested in reading about those fights, but they didn't seem particularly real, nor was there a reason that she turned out to be the best fighter of all.
Wish I knew what book you were talking about. At any rate, it sounds like an example of what not to do. And what to keep in mind while writing.
Which character in Hunger Games brought on the full-on tears?

Quandary time: No characters have ever been killed in my decidedly middle grade books. Funnily enough, that's the reason my 3rd grader gave me for why I hadn't yet been published!!
Yes, but does it ever feel like things are truly at risk? Plus you are writing middle grade humor.

Spoiler alert