April 3: Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books
Savitha – Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao. Suffice to say, I did not like this book. What could have been a really hard-hitting reading experience suffered for the sake of a lot of gratuitous violence that did nothing for the narrative or for character development. (e.g., When a character has already been raped repeatedly, what’s the point of adding in another graphic rape scene at the end of the book?) That said, I did care for the two girls who were at the heart of this story, Savitha in particular – I admired her resilience and idealism.
Catherine – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I thought this book was rather tedious and I did not get on with the writing style and I found most of the characters rather one-dimensional, but I have to admit, I do quite like Catherine. I’m such an advocate of female characters who are allowed to be flawed and not necessarily very nice people, and Catherine is pretty much the embodiment of that. She’s kind of awful, in a way that you don’t see with a lot of female characters in Victorian and Gothic lit, so ironically I like her all the more for that.
Farrah – Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman. Maybe my expectations were too high after the perfection that was Bird Box, I don’t know, but Unbury Carol did nothing for me. Probably also because I don’t like westerns, and this did nothing to change my mind about that. I was thoroughly bored by the characters, too, I didn’t care about Carol or her evil husband or her outlaw love interest or the main villain. Who I did like though, was Carol’s housemaid, Farrah, who was entirely too nice for this book.
Helene – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. There are actually a lot of characters I could have chosen for this book. I love Anatole for how awful he is, and I love Natasha (until her entire character was destroyed by the epilogue but whatever), but I think I’ll go with Helene… she’s one of those characters who I believe has gotten a bad rap, due mostly to misogyny. I mean, was anything she did that awful? I think she deserved better and I can’t wait until one day Hadeer, resident Helene Kuragina stan, inevitably writes a book from her perspective.
Jojo – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. This is a book that I really wanted to love, but it would be a little disingenuous to pretend that I did… I ultimately found the whole thing a bit too heavy-handed, and didn’t leave much for the reader to chew on – we were just sort of… told exactly what to think, and that sort of thing bores me. But it would be hard to read this book and not fall in love with Jojo, the boy who’s basically been forced to care for his younger sister due to his mom’s unreliability and drug addiction.
That one musician guy who was writing the Antigone musical with Lotto – Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Sorry, I cannot for the life of me remember this guy’s name. And I hated this book. Passionately. As in, it’s a very strong contender for my least favorite book of all time. The only thing that made it bearable was that brief section where Lotto went to this retreat or something and wrote an opera based on Antigone with this character whose name I cannot remember. I liked that guy. He deserved a better book.
Monty – The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee. I wouldn’t say I disliked this book… but it was a sort of unenthusiastic 3 stars. And without Monty, it definitely would not have gotten that high of a rating. Monty is my favorite kind of antihero for YA lit – I’m a sucker for the ‘guy who acts like an asshole because he’s masking some seriously deep-seeded insecurities’ trope. Unfortunately nothing else about this book really enchanted me.
Peilan/Polly – The Leavers by Lisa Ko. If this whole book had been from Peilan’s perspective, it would have been an easy 5 stars. I thought she was such a brilliant character, and her chapters broke my heart. But the point of view of her son, Deming, bored me so much and I ultimately wasn’t able to get invested in his character in any way.
Quinn – Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica. This is the only Kubica book I’ve read, and I can’t say it left a terribly strong impression… there were a lot of very strange twists and the resolution was rather odd. And it was sort of boring up until that point. But I did quite like Quinn, the narrator who’s searching for her missing roommate. She felt very real and vulnerable and flawed, which I like in protagonists.
Clara – The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This book is misogyny central… the treatment of female characters as a whole is pretty deplorable, but Clara in particular had one of the most frustrating narrative arcs of all time. I’m still mad about how the author basically told us that this young woman was to blame for rejecting the affections of our teenage protagonist, as if she owed him something…??? Anyway, Clara deserved better.
Which characters do you like in books you didn’t? Comment and let me know!