I’ve recently been on a reading binge. Read about six books in three days. Three of them just blew my socks off, which is hard to do because I am a very picky reader. The absolute winners all had one thing in common—characters I loved…or a begrudging respect. Let’s take Halfway to the Grave. (Fabulous book and if you haven’t read it then you should.) I knew from the first page that Cat would drive me nuts at some point. She’s strong-willed, naïve and makes rash decisions.
So, why did I stick around?
I don’t have to like a character to root for them. Her backstory was compelling, she was funny and…I heard the hero is pretty much Spike from Buffy. And he’s a character I can write odes to. Bones had me at ‘Hey, luv.’ He’s not a likeable character at all. He’s a vampire. The kind that drinks straight from the tap as you will. He doesn’t harbor any guilt over this. He kidnaps the heroine and makes her kill vamps with him. From there the story unravels with interesting twists and turns.
Don’t care one peep about all that, because I stuck around for the characters. I lost sleep so I could find out how Bones and Cat made out. When I was done I scrambled for the next book in the series and gobbled it up just as fast. I needed to know if Cat and Bones were all right. Cat grew and wasn’t as naïve. She definitely continued to make rash decisions, but they were still, for the most part, for the right reasons. Bones, well, he’s Spike so yeah I adored him as the bad boy.
At the heart of it these were complex characters, and the author made me care about what happened to them. I yelled at my computer as I read. I cheered. I sniffled or laughed. I was completely wrapped up. Well written characters can make the world around you just fade away and what happens on the pages becomes tantamount. Let’s be honest, I’ve never met a reader who loved a plot so much they’ve written odes to it.
Come on, Barrons, anyone? Just the mention of his name can start a very heated debate and, ya know, odes. As I look at all the books on my keeper shelf none of them are there because of the story. I keep them because I want to revisit the characters. I want to experience what they experienced. In a very strange book-nerd way I want to spend time with them again. There’s the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the Three Sisters Trilogy by La Nora, Natural Born Charmer by SEP. Currently rereading Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (It has one of the best sex scenes ever. EVER.) The list is long but not every book has made it. But my keepers…you’ll have to pry from my cold dead fingers.
Who are some of your favorite characters you’d write odes to?
Melissa Blue’s writing career started on a typewriter one month after her son was born. This would have been an idyllic situation for a writer if it had been 1985, not 2004. Eventually she upgraded to a computer. She’s still typing away on the same computer, making imaginary people fall in love.