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Literature: The Wish List
The Wish List is a novel by Eoin Colfer.

The novel begins with the protagonist, Meg Finn, dying horribly in a gas explosion after a break-in goes wrong and the guy she's helping (sort of) accidentally blows them both up. However, because she tried to do good just before she died - saving the life of the old man Lowrie she was stealing from - she gets sent back to tip the scales, so to speak, one way or the other, to heaven or hell. To do this she has to help Lowrie complete the items on his "wish list": a list of things that he feels will correct the many mistakes he made in his life. In the meantime, both heaven and hell are out for her soul.


Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Step-parents: Meg's step-father really isn't a nice guy.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Lowrie throws a jar full of the ashes from Meg's mother at Franco. Since Belch was possessing him at the time, the blessed material traps Belch in Franco.
  • Back from the Dead: Lowrie and, in a sense, Meg's stepfather.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Meg dies with a perfect balance of good and bad deeds to her name, disqualifying her from both branches of the afterlife. She finds a way back to the mortal world and decides to help an old man fulfill his life's wishes in the hopes of earning enough karma to get into heaven.
  • Batman Gambit: Meg agrees to help Lowrie "burst Ball", knowing it will harm her celestial standing, because she doesn't think he'll go through with it. And she's right.
  • Big Bad: Satan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Meg gets to heaven and sees her mother again, but she doesn't get to stick around Lowrie like she planned. Of course, this being a universe where the afterlife is proven to exist, they'll meet up again.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy
  • Chekhov's Gun: The blue stones.
  • Demonic Possession: Any spirit can do this, but it costs a lot of energy.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: St Peter and Beelzebub have a hotline that goes directly to each other and has been key to preventing the End Of The World several times.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Meg's refusal to let Belch kill Lowrie during the burglary is enough to drag her Karma score up to a completely balanced neutral.
    • It's implied that Beelzebub is digusted by the surgical procedure Myishi uses to turn Belch into a soul man.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: As things seem hopeless for team Evil, Elph manages to cause Lowrie to have a fatal heart attack by appearing on the visible spectra in front of him just before he can complete the final wish, exploiting his already failing heart.
  • Forceful Kiss: Somewhat. There was no force involved but it was a surprise to the woman that Lowrie kissed that he always regretted not doing so.
  • Freudian Excuse: Megs childhood, in her own words, was "no great shakes", and goes some way towards explaining her mean-streak, especially in comparison to the story's antagonists.
  • The Heavy: Belch and Elph.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both main characters. Meg can be a spiteful little horror, but quickly cottons on when she has gone too far (such as when she tells Lowrie that "its a bit late for this life" and then immediately realises the full ramifications of what she has said) or when things are deadly serious (her reaction to Belch's pitbull savaging Lowrie, and her attempts to get Belch to stop the attack; an attempt which saves Lowrie and saves herself from hell.) Lowrie, for his part, is a grumpy old man, but is still sensitive enough to take Megs issues in life and her desire for retribution against her abusive stepfather seriously. Both characters, in this way, demonstrate hidden sensibilities even if they are outwardly not particularly nice.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Meg absolutely destroys her stepfather without ever laying a hand on him.
  • Mad Scientist: Myishi.
  • Missing Mom: Of the dead variety.
  • Not So Different: Lowrie find out that the bully he went to beat up in revenge is just as old, frail, and suffering from a failing organ like him. He also has grown up and regrets everything he did to Lowrie. They make up.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In the spirit, if not precisely this trope, considering both people involved are already dead. Meg Finn has earned her final reward and is on the fast track up the tunnel towards Heaven, but Belch attempts to drag her in the opposite direction, prompting (according to Saint Peter afterwards) the first instance of violence in the tunnel, accompanied by this:
    Meg: Belch, you can go to Hell! (kick to the face)
  • Race Against the Clock: Meg naturally loses life-force as time wears on, and Lowries heart condition begins to deteriorate as the stress of the stories events gets to him, turning the book into a race to fulfill all four wishes before the pair expire, condemning Lowrie to an unfulfilled life and Meg to the fire below.
  • Ramp Jump: Belch tries to do this near the end, but Reality Ensues as the fence he tried to ramp simply ends up tangled around his bike. It wasn't even necessary, given that he could have just plowed through.
  • Satan
  • Save the Villain: While he's not the villain, Meg's step-father is still brought back from the dead by her—and then vows to be a much better person, having caught a glimpse of Hell.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Brendan Ball. Lowrie wants to get him back for it, but didn't consider the "grown up" part — and it turns out he's grown up as a person as well, and Lowrie changes his mind, just as Meg knew he would.
  • Shout-Out: Myishi is the name of a character.
    • Also, a possible one when describing Belch using up Franco's "life". "He was just a ghost in a shell."
  • Our Ghosts Are Different/Our Souls Are Different
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Belch becomes more and more bestial as the book goes on. Justified, given the fact that he constantly suffers serious damage to his human side.


A Wish for Wings that WorkChildren's LiteratureThe Witches
Vertical RunSmall Genres and Unclassified Literature    
WintersmithLiterature of the 2000sWitch & Wizard

alternative title(s): The Wish List
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