It’s autumn. Leaves are falling, the nights are getting longer, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather for a roaring bonfire. And you know what we do with bonfires?
We roast things.
Look, we’ve all been there. A close, trusted friend (or – gasp – a family member) recommends a book to us. They claim it’s the best use of ink since the first Bibles rolled off of Gutenberg’s printing press. And you trust them, so you decide to give it a try.
And you don’t like it.
Maybe you don’t hate it – maybe you’re just apathetic about it. And then when your friend/family member asks you what you thought, you’re caught in an awkward position. Do you risk your relationship by telling them the truth, or do you lie to spare their feelings?
I’ve read more than my fair share of what I would call “overrated” books. Not all of them are bad books – in fact, in many cases, I think they’re pretty decent works of literature. But the more I think about them, the less I like them. And mostly, I just think they need to be taken down a peg or two.
So gather around the campfire, readers. I’m about to roast some books.
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.
Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post that was appropriately titled “Top 5 Heroines.” It was, as you might guess, a list of my favorite heroines from books. Now, even though I wrote that blog post three years ago, I still stand by it. There were some really awesome female characters on that list: June Iparis from the Legend trilogy, Cammie Morgan from Gallagher Girls, Deryn Sharp from the Leviathan trilogy, Reyna Ramirez-Arellano from The Heroes of Olympus, and Stargirl from Stargirl.
But I also wrote that blog post three years ago. I’ve read (and re-read) a lot of books since then, and I’ve fallen in love with both new characters and old. So while I still love and adore all of the ladies on my original list, I thought it was a good time to show some appreciation for a few of my other favorite heroines.
Around this time last year, I wrote a post about my favorite fictional couples (which you should definitely go back and read if you missed it the first time around). I thought it would make a nice parallel to do a similar post this year, but focusing on characters who aren’t in relationships.
And then I ran into a slight problem: I couldn’t think of any.
I know, I was pretty surprised too, but let me explain. The single characters I could think of usually didn’t work for one of two reasons. One, they were not main characters, so the audience isn’t expecting to hear much about their relationships unless it’s directly related to the plot. Two, the character is the “token” single person in a cast of characters who had romantic relationships, so there’s a heavy focus on how they’re different from the other characters. There were still a handful remaining after I completed that criteria, but certainly not enough to write a whole list like last year.
That got me thinking – where are all of the single people in our stories, specifically in YA fiction?
Happy October! Depending on where you are in the world, it might finally be starting to feel like autumn for you (yes, we had 80-degree days here in the middle of September). Midterm exams are coming up at my school, but I’ll be going home for Fall Break in less than a week! I’m looking forward to it.
And in case you missed anything on Maggie’s Musings this month, I blogged about:
If you handed me a young adult novel and gave me thirty seconds to look at it, I could probably tell you a bit about the cast of characters. There’s a pretty good chance the cast consists of a dark and mysterious guy, an insecure girl, and a vaguely attractive childhood friend.
Not all YA books would be like that, of course, but a majority of them do contain these basic character archetypes. They’re like pages in a coloring book – an outline for the writer to fill in with whatever colors or patterns they see fit. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some of these archetypes have become tropes. In other words, all of the writers are coloring in the picture the exact same way.
These tropes make stories predictable, which gets boring for the audience. But are all tropes really that bad? Can any of them be salvaged? I’ve picked ten of the most common character tropes in YA fiction to try and answer which tropes are really worth saving (and how to save them), and which ones should be tossed aside.
I just recently finished rereading one of my favorite book series, Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. The series takes place at an all-girls school for young geniuses where the students are trained for future work as scientists, analysts, spies and other high-level government jobs. In the meantime, however, the girls are still navigating everyday life (they’re just doing quantum physics instead of high school biology).
Not only is the Gallagher Girls series one of my favorites, but it’s also a very well-written series of books. There are a lot of elements that make the Gallagher Girls amazing, and so today, I’d like to share some of the biggest writing lessons I’ve learned from this wonderful series.
Welcome back to another round of the Great TBR Purge of 2017! In case you missed it, last week I wrote about how since it’s my goal to read 40 books this year, I want to spend my time reading books I actually enjoy. With that in mind, I’m clearing out my to-be-read list on Goodreads and only keeping the books I’m actually interested in reading.
Last week, I wrote about 7 books that I found on the list, and this week I have 7 more! If you missed last week’s post, be sure to check it out first (or if you just want a recap. The second half of the list is below the cut!
Or, “Books on my TBR, why they’re still there, and if they’re going to stay.”
I was looking at my “To-be-read” list – a.k.a. my TBR – on GoodReads the other day, and I realized there are quite a lot of books on it. Many of them I don’t even remember putting on the list in the first place. Since it’s one of my goals to read 40 books this year and I want to spend time reading books I actually enjoy, I decided that it would be a good time to clean out – purge – my TBR.
I’m removing a lot of books, but I picked 14 to share with you, 7 this week and 7 next week. Without further ado, the first have of the The Great TBR Purge of 2017!
Similar to last week’s list, these characters are a varied bunch. However, they do share one defining quality in that they’re not flat characters. In all of the books mentioned, the authors have taken the time to create three-dimensional, unique characters that aren’t simple cliches.
(By the way, if you want to read more rants about character cliches, head on over to Between Reality and check out my guest post there!)
I don’t have as long of an introduction as I did last week, so I’ll let the characters do the rest of the talking. Here are my Top 5 Heroes (in no particular order)!