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* TheHeroDies: [[spoiler: Kate, the most heroic character in the book, is killed by Miro at the very end.]]

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* LiteraryAllusionTitle: Taken from the final line of Dylan Thomas's poem "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London."

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* BefriendingTheEnemy: Kate tries to connect Miro, knowing he intends to kill her. [[spoiler: It fails.]]


* TheReveal: [[spoiler: Ben died after the bus incident. The sections narrated by him take place in the mind of his guilt-ridden father.]]



* VillainProtagonist: Miro is a terrorist participating in the hostage-taking ([[spoiler: and eventual murder]]) of children.
* WouldHurtAChild: Artkin fully intends to kill the children if his demands are not met. Miro doesn't take any issue with this.

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* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Intensely, brutally cynical, like almost all of Cormier's work.
* TomatoInTheMirror: [[spoiler: Ben isn't writing after the bus incident. In reality, Ben killed himself and his father is attempting to redeem himself by imagining how he and his son might have interacted while actually being confined in a mental hospital.]]
* TragicVillain: Miro is clearly a troubled young man who complies with the terrorists group due to the trauma of his brother's death and his upbringing in refugee camps, ideological brainwashing throughout his childhood, and a desire to be accepted by his friends. Though he is a sympathetic and in many ways pitiful character, he also willingly takes part in some truly reprehensible acts as a result.
* VillainProtagonist: Miro is a terrorist participating in the hostage-taking ([[spoiler: and eventual murder]]) of children.
* WouldHurtAChild: Artkin fully intends to kill the children if his demands are not met. Miro doesn't take any issue with this. Early on, they accidentally poison one of the children while drugging the group and Artkin displays his body to demonstrate their disregard for American laws and morals. [[spoiler: At the end, as retribution for the accidental death of one of their men, Artkin kills Raymond, and even goes so far as to reject Kate's offer to kill her instead, insisting that it must be a child who dies.]]
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: A major theme of the book.


* And Ben, the son of a US general involved with the ransom demands being made by the terrorists.

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* And Ben, the son of a US general involved with the ransom demands being made by the terrorists.
terrorists, who narrates his thoughts after the incident.



* AmbiguouslyBrown: Miro and Artkin seem vaguely Middle Eastern, but their exact origin is never specified.



* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler: Ben Marchand apparently leapt off a bridge, due to his father's machinations taking advantage of his vulnerability and putting him through torture as a strategic maneuver.]]



* HopeSpot: Kate very nearly manages to escape by driving the bus away, only for the engine to stall by pure chance. [[spoiler: Later, she begs for Artkin to spare Raymond and kill her instead, and he seems to consider it, but chooses not to.]]

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* GreaterScopeVillain: Sedeete, the terrorist leader who commands the group Artkin and Miro are part of.
* HopeSpot: Kate very nearly manages to escape by driving the bus away, only for the engine to stall by pure chance. [[spoiler: Later, she begs for Artkin to spare Raymond and kill her instead, and he seems to consider it, but chooses not to.]] Throughout the story she also attempts to persuade Miro to let her go and seems to have some impact on him, but he kills her in the end.]]
* HostageSituation: The central premise.
* LukeIMightBeYourFather: As part of a last ditch effort to delay death, Kate starts trying to convince Miro that Artkin is actually his father, pointing out ambiguities in the story he told her about his childhood and connections in their appearance. Miro eventually rejects the theory, but it's left unclear if she might have been onto something or not.
* PyrrhicVictory: The US military [[spoiler: successfully foils the terrorist plot, but several innocent children die in the process and the general in charge goes insane after his use of his son as a pawn in the negotiations causes him to commit suicide.]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog: The terrorists [[spoiler: fail to accomplish anything except killing two children and a teenager. Most of the children survive, and Inner Delta is unaffected.]]
* VillainProtagonist: Miro is a terrorist participating in the hostage-taking ([[spoiler: and eventual murder]]) of children.
* WouldHurtAChild: Artkin fully intends to kill the children if his demands are not met. Miro doesn't take any issue with this.


* DownerEnding: Arguably outdoes both ''Literature/TheChocolateWar'' and ''Literature/IAmTheCheese''. [[spoiler: Artkin, Antibbe and Stroll all die to the police; two children are killed by the terrorists; Miro kills Kate shortly after escaping the carnage; Ben commits suicide due to his guilt over the torture and subsequent realization that his father set him up to be tortured; Ben's father General Marchand goes insane due to his guilt and sorrow over the events and apparently lives out his life in a mental hospital, taking on his son's persona in an attempt to find forgiveness for himself. The sole survivor, Miro, abandons the last of his humanity and emotion due to Kate's attempts to manipulate him, choosing to embrace Artkin's ideology and continue their "war." Perhaps the only redeeming quality is that most of the children survived.]]

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*ColdBloodedTorture: Artkin subjects Ben to what is only described as "the fingers." [[spoiler: True to life, he cracks under the pain after only 32 seconds, which Miro apparently considers impressive.]]
* DownerEnding: Arguably outdoes both ''Literature/TheChocolateWar'' and ''Literature/IAmTheCheese''. [[spoiler: Artkin, Antibbe and Stroll all die to the police; two children are killed by the terrorists; Miro kills Kate shortly after escaping the carnage; escaping; Ben commits suicide due to his guilt over the torture and subsequent realization that his father set him up to be tortured; suicide; Ben's father General Marchand goes insane due to his guilt and sorrow over the events and apparently lives out his life in a mental hospital, taking on his son's persona in an attempt to find forgiveness for himself. The sole survivor, Miro, abandons the last of his humanity and emotion due to Kate's attempts to manipulate him, choosing to embrace Artkin's ideology and continue their "war." Perhaps the only redeeming quality is that most of the children survived.]]


* AnyoneCanDie: Of the major characters, [[spoilers: Antibbe, Raymond, Stroll, Artkin, Kate and Ben all die. Miro and Ben's father are the only survivors, and neither are well-off by the end.]]
* DownerEnding: Arguably outdoes both ''Literature/TheChocolateWar'' and ''Literature/IAmTheCheese''. [[spoilers: Artkin, Antibbe and Stroll all die to the police; two children are killed by the terrorists; Miro kills Kate shortly after escaping the carnage; Ben commits suicide due to his guilt over the torture and subsequent realization that his father set him up to be tortured; Ben's father General Marchand goes insane due to his guilt and sorrow over the events and apparently lives out his life in a mental hospital, taking on his son's persona in an attempt to find forgiveness for himself. The sole survivor, Miro, abandons the last of his humanity and emotion due to Kate's attempts to manipulate him, choosing to embrace Artkin's ideology and continue their "war." Perhaps the only redeeming quality is that most of the children survived.]]

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* AnyoneCanDie: Of the major characters, [[spoilers: [[spoiler: Antibbe, Raymond, Stroll, Artkin, Kate and Ben all die. Miro and Ben's father are the only survivors, and neither are well-off by the end.]]
* DownerEnding: Arguably outdoes both ''Literature/TheChocolateWar'' and ''Literature/IAmTheCheese''. [[spoilers: [[spoiler: Artkin, Antibbe and Stroll all die to the police; two children are killed by the terrorists; Miro kills Kate shortly after escaping the carnage; Ben commits suicide due to his guilt over the torture and subsequent realization that his father set him up to be tortured; Ben's father General Marchand goes insane due to his guilt and sorrow over the events and apparently lives out his life in a mental hospital, taking on his son's persona in an attempt to find forgiveness for himself. The sole survivor, Miro, abandons the last of his humanity and emotion due to Kate's attempts to manipulate him, choosing to embrace Artkin's ideology and continue their "war." Perhaps the only redeeming quality is that most of the children survived.]]

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->''After the first death, there is no other.''

A 1979 young adult psychological thriller by Robert Cormier, best known for his previous novels ''Literature/TheChocolateWar'' and ''Literature/IAmTheCheese''.

''After the First Death'' tells the story of the terrorist hijacking of a bus full of schoolchildren. The book follows three central characters:

* Miro, the youngest and least experienced of the four terrorists, who lives in the shadow of his mysterious partner Artkin and is assigned the task of killing the bus driver.

* Kate, a high school student who happened to be filling in for the regular driver on the day of the hijacking.

* And Ben, the son of a US general involved with the ransom demands being made by the terrorists.

Despite the high-stakes premise, the book involves little action, takes place in only a few confined locations, and is focused on the inner workings of the characters' minds as they attempt to navigate their situation... efforts which, in typical Cormier fashion, soon go horribly wrong.

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!! This book provides examples of:
* AnyoneCanDie: Of the major characters, [[spoilers: Antibbe, Raymond, Stroll, Artkin, Kate and Ben all die. Miro and Ben's father are the only survivors, and neither are well-off by the end.]]
* DownerEnding: Arguably outdoes both ''Literature/TheChocolateWar'' and ''Literature/IAmTheCheese''. [[spoilers: Artkin, Antibbe and Stroll all die to the police; two children are killed by the terrorists; Miro kills Kate shortly after escaping the carnage; Ben commits suicide due to his guilt over the torture and subsequent realization that his father set him up to be tortured; Ben's father General Marchand goes insane due to his guilt and sorrow over the events and apparently lives out his life in a mental hospital, taking on his son's persona in an attempt to find forgiveness for himself. The sole survivor, Miro, abandons the last of his humanity and emotion due to Kate's attempts to manipulate him, choosing to embrace Artkin's ideology and continue their "war." Perhaps the only redeeming quality is that most of the children survived.]]
*HopeSpot: Kate very nearly manages to escape by driving the bus away, only for the engine to stall by pure chance. [[spoiler: Later, she begs for Artkin to spare Raymond and kill her instead, and he seems to consider it, but chooses not to.]]

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