I've got a special guest today: Angela Ackerman. You should know her from the awesome (and award winning) The Bookshelf Muse and as the coauthor of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression. If you follow my blog you know how much I love this thesaurus! It's a fabulous resource for writers in general and this writer in particular. Angela is a Canadian who writes on the darker side of Middle Grade and Young Adult and is is represented by Jill Corcoran of The Herman Agency.
Donna, thank you so much for the invitation to visit your blog! I love this topic, because the characters we fall in love with is ultimately why a book becomes a ‘favorite.’ I really struggled with only picking five. But, after much hand-wringing, I narrowed it down, trying not to give too many story spoilers away in the process!
Doug Swieteck - Okay for Now (Gary D. Schmidt) YA Coming of Age
This is one of those books that I wish every person would read--adult and child alike. Doug is an amazing character, living in an abusive and impoverished environment where everyone judges him by his father and brother’s reputations instead of who he could become with some encouragement and support. This is a beautiful story of a boy who chooses to not follow in his thuggish brother’s footsteps, nor adopt the uncaring and entitled, ‘the world is against me so screw them’ attitude his father lays down. Instead Doug discovers who he really is by showing understanding and kindness, finds redemption and friendship, and in turn leads other characters into a redemption of their own, including his own family. Doug is a powerful, true underdog character. He represents the struggle in all of us to move past our baggage, and as a child who suffered terrible bullying, I connected with him on a deep level.
Mat Cauthon - The Wheel of Time Series (Robert Jordan) Adult Fantasy
And I have to pipe in that I also love Mat's character. It's fun to see his growth over the course of the books, especially when he fights against his destiny. If a scene needs a laugh, you can count on Mat to provide it.
Nya - The Healing Wars Trilogy (Janice Hardy) Middle Grade Fantasy
Nya is an orphan living by the skin of her teeth in a war-torn city. Born with the ability to pull pain out of people, she is viewed as magically useless as her gift doesn’t contain the secondary component needed--the ability to push it into a rare metal that is a great source of power and wealth. It turns out her gift is more complex and deadly however, as she is able to shift pain from person to person, making her attractive to those wanting to use her as a weapon. Nya is loyal and a risk taker, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. She becomes a leader through her actions, all the while trying to come to terms with her own self worth and the destructive power she possesses. A reluctant heroine, she’s feisty and her dealing with moral and ethical dilemmas are realistic.
Kestrel Hath - The Wind on Fire Trilogy (William Nicholson) YA Fantasy
Kess is one of those headstrong characters that makes you cheer. She always does what she thinks is right, and refuses to be dissuaded. She has unusual intuitive qualities for a ten year old (and she ages throughout the series) and places loyalty first, but her determined nature leads her into lots of trouble as she reacts rather than thinks it through. Her world is all about repression and control, so her character traits create explosive conflict as she fights against it. She sees the big picture of her world and is determined to change it for her family and her people, and sacrifices herself for the greater good. This series is one that will stay with you long after you finish it!
Lyra Belacqua, His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman) YA Fantasy
Lyra is a complete tomboy, wild and untamed by the adults around her. Growing up without parents, she lies to get what she wants and avoids anything that holds her back. This is a delightful contrast to her growing up with scholars in Jordan College, Oxford, the seat of knowledge and science in Lyra’s world. Discovering her mother is a villain propels Lyra into a role of opposing her and all she stands for, and she embarks on a dangerous journey to bring down the organization her mother works for that is kidnapping and torturing children. Lyra’s independent nature and fierce loyalty to her friend Roger make her a heroine to cheer for and empathize with.
And...that’s my five! Reading through my list, I seem to be attracted to characters who are wild cards, underdogs, loyal and fiercely determined to do the right thing. How about you? Who are some of your favorite characters, and what is it about them that wins your heart? Please share some of your favorite books/characters so we all have a great reading list for our summer reading!
Who are some of your favorite characters?
Oh, and on a side note, my awesome friend, Donna Hosie, has an agent. You ought to drop by and congratulate her!