As I did in my previous post about book heroines, today I’m revisiting my three-year-old top five heroes list. And, like I said in my previous post, I’m certainly not diminishing the awesomeness of the characters I wrote about before (although, if I’m being honest, there are a few that I haven’t had many thoughts about in the years since). The characters of Artemis Fowl from Eoin Colfer’s beloved series and Sage from The False Prince are still some of my favorites.
But like I said before, I’ve read a lot of books since then, and I think it’s time to give a few other characters some love too.
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Our returning champion this time around is Sage, the tricky protagonist of The False Prince. I admit I haven’t read this book in a long time, but it’s one of the select volumes that I’ve lugged with me during my numerous college moves, so I think that’s saying something. Not only is the book interesting and creative in its own right, but I think it owes a lot of its quality to its characters.
Without giving too much away – I think The False Prince is just one of those books you have to read for yourself – Sage is one of my favorite examples of an unreliable narrator. The book is written in first-person, so the reader has to rely on Sage to know what’s going on, and he isn’t necessarily telling us everything. When the story reaches its climax, Sage’s cleverness really shines through.
A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab
I’m bending the rules a tiny bit because ADSOM doesn’t fall under the YA category (do not read this to your small teenagers), but I think it’s close enough. Plus they’re my rules and I can break them if I want.
Despite all of my issues with ADSOM, Rhy usually stayed on my good side. I love the bond between him and his brother, Kell (uh… figuratively speaking, of course). Aside from that, I think Rhy’s character development over the course of the trilogy is the most understated, but yet one of the best. He struggles with being born to a magically gifted family, but having no affinity for magic of his own, and he’s always conscious that one day he will take his father’s place as king. It’s a lot of pressure, but as Rhy matures, he learns to handle it and grows into the leader he’s meant to be. Plus he cracks a lot of wry jokes (ha), which always made me smile.
Legend series by Marie Lu
“Maggie you can’t repeat book series, that’s cheating.” Well, who’s gonna stop me?
While there is plenty I like about Day, I think it comes down to two things: his voice and his perseverance. Day is a guy who’s gotten a lot of garbage thrown at him, and yet he keeps going. Like June, he doesn’t stop until he finds the truth (his methods are just… different, to say the least). He’s also one of the few male YA heroes I’ve seen who isn’t afraid to show how much he cares for others. Day isn’t emotionally stunted or worried about looking weak – he openly expresses his love for his family and friends.
As for his voice, Day is honest and to the point. He doesn’t waste time with fancy words, he just tells it like it is. He’s a good balance to June’s analytical narration, where she notices the little things and often considers the at length. Both of their personalities show through in the way they tell the story, but I don’t think Day would be the same without his voice.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
I mentioned how much I love Ponyboy’s relationship with his two older brothers in my post about siblings, but I believe he deserves some solo recognition too. Ponyboy’s a bright kid caught in some less-than-ideal circumstances (which get worse as the book goes on). Despite seeing the negative consequences of the rivalry between their town’s two social groups, the Socs and the Greasers, Ponyboy never becomes cynical. In fact, part of Ponyboy’s character development revolves around his friendship with one of the Socs, Cherry, and him starting to understand that their two groups might not be so different after all.
Like Day, Ponyboy’s narrative voice is what also endears me to him. He’s a good storyteller and an approachable character. Even though we know we’re only getting one person’s perspective on things, Ponyboy is trustworthy, and I like him for that.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Here’s your obligatory antihero for the day, you can all go home now.
Joking aside, I think what I appreciate most about Thorne (other than his horrible jokes, which I admit I’m a sucker for) is that he fully acknowledges he’s a human disaster. He falls into this world-saving quest by accident, not because he feels some noble calling. Despite never claiming to be a hero though, Thorne does show his courage throughout the series. He sticks by the rest of the main cast, even though he doesn’t have any stakes in the game. In a lot of ways, he’s an “everyday” kind of character – normal and down to earth, but that doesn’t make him any less of a hero.
He did steal a few things though, like a spaceship. The government’s gonna want that back.
Who are your favorite book heroes? Who should’ve been on my list? What should I read next? Let’s chat in the comments!
Until next time!