Friday, December 2, 2011

Characters Who Captured My Heart in 2011

“I was attempting to write the story of my life. It wasn't so much about plot. It was much more about character.” 
-from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

I love this quote because, as I have stated many times, I read for character. If you make me love your characters I will forgive you all kinds of faults in your world building and plot development. As I was thinking about the books that will go on my Best of 2011 list (which I'll post at the end of December) I started thinking about all the amazing characters I fell in love with this year. Not all the books they come from will make that final list (though some will) and I decided to a separate post to cover all the characters who captured my heart this year and  made me fall in love with their stories.

Instead of linking the titles to their Goodreads page like I usually do, I have linked them to my reviews.

Melina Marchetta's Boys:
Yes, all of them. I read Saving Francesca, my first experience with Marchetta's work, last December. I was an instant fan and picked up her other books once 2011 began. I even pre-ordered her 2011 US release. And while yes, I also very much love the female characters in her novels, wow can she write guys well. I love them all from Jonah and Chaz (and even Ben and Jude) in Jellico Road to Finnikin in Finnikin of the Rock. But the one that wormed his way into my heart the most this year was Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son. I dare anyone to read Tom's story and not come away seriously caring what happens to him and all the people in his messed up world.

 R.J. Anderson's Faeries (and their Humans):
I love stories with Faeries and Faerie lore so it was no surprise that I liked R.J. Andersons Faerie books, Knife, Rebel, and Arrow, when I read them this year. More than liked. I did order Arrow from the UK since it hasn't been published yet in the US (and I intend to do the very same thing with Swift when it comes out next year). The characters in these novels captured my imagination and my heart. The Faerie girls, Knife, Linden, and Rhosmari are all strong capable heroines who are unique and different from each other. Paul and Timothy, the human boys, are well balanced between being heroic and needing assistance of their own. Oh, Paul's actions at the end of both Knife and Arrow ♥♥♥. And then there is also Rob, male Faerie, with a very intriguing backstory I want to know more about.

The Casson Children
 "Oh, you Cassons are so artistic and dysfunctional and cool, it's not fair."-Sarah (Permanent Rose)
 Reading Hilary McKay's Casson Family books will make most adults, particularly those who are parents, cringe (most kids will probably think they can relate). Notice that I put the children and not the whole family. Their parents....shudder. They are not evil people, just the self absorbed type that probably maybe should have thought harder about the responsibility of children before having so many. Yet when you read the books you can't help but love these kids with all their quirks and annoying habits. Their bond is strong and their love for each other fierce and it is heartwarming to read. My review for Saffy's Angel; My review for the rest of the books

 Katherine Ann Stephenson
The intrepid heroine of Stephanie Burgis' Kat Incorrigible definitely deserves a mention. (Bit emphatically agrees with this choice as well.) This was another book it was going to be hard for me not to like. Regency England with magic. Fortunately Burgis is a talented writer with a firm knowledge of her historical period to pull this off well. And at the center of it she placed the best sort of young heroine. Kat Stehpenson is not a proper young lady. She climbs trees. She speaks her mind. She fights. She doesn't see why a girl can't set out to seek her fortune like a boy, and so cuts off her hair and goes out to do just that. The only thing standing in her way are her sisters. But she figures out a way to deal with them, find them proper suitors, and deal with the strange and mysterious magic she has inherited from her mother. She s like Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse and Hermione Granger all in one. Truly spectacular.

Conn and Company
From my review of Sarah Prinneas' Magic Thief books: "A  thief is a lot like a wizard. A wizard is a lot like a thief. Yes, thievery and magic combined.  Who wouldn't love these books?  Hmmm....well, I can think of a few people who don't like either of those things separately, never mind combining them.  Who cares about those people though?  These books were definitely my kind of fun." And the characters in them are my  kind of people.I loved Conn's sneaky snarky heroism and Rowan's intelligent fierce loyalty especially. I certainly will be first in line if another book were to come out, which Sarah says is a possibility (just not anytime soon).

Cyrus and Antigone Smith
And all the other Polygoners who have joined them by the end of the book. I think my fondness for the characters in N.D. Wilson's The Dragon's Tooth might just outweigh my fondness for the characters in his other books, and that is saying something. I think what I love most about Cyrus and Antigone is how genuine their sibling relationship reads, younger brother and older sister very close in age. They bicker, tease, and poke at each other, but they also love and protect each other (often times simultaneously). I'm very much looking forward to following both of them and all the people they have befriended as the Ashtown series continues.

 Don't let my face fool you; it tells the worst lies. A girl can have the face of an angel but have a horrid sort of heart.
Ah Briony, so confused and so good at the self loathing. And yet so very very sympathetic. Franny Billingsley's Chime is a wonderful story. It's many potential award mentions and National Book Award nomination tell us that it is also well written and worth a look. No one would care about this book at all if it weren't so easy to love and feel for Briony. She is the story. And Eldric is a pretty awesome character too.

Doug Sweiteck
When I first wrote my review of Gary D. Schmidt's Okay for Now I had this to say: "I grow weary of reading book after book written in first person. Many of them sound the same. Not this one. Doug becomes a real person through his voice and, I have to say, I haven't enjoyed having a character's voice in my head this much since I read The Thief. (Not that Doug and Gen are in anyway comparable, because they aren't. That is just how real Doug came to be in my mind.)" I can give no book higher praise than that. This is another character whose story is a little heartbreaking but, at the same time, so full of potential. When I read this book I just want to give Doug hugs.

So there they are, the ones who got to me the most this year. I'm very excited that I will get to experience further adventures of some of them. And I will get experience all of them over and over through the joy of rereading.


  1. Love this post! I also care more about the characters than the other aspects of novels. It's a great idea to come up with a best of 2011 list of characters because some of them do not appear in your best of 2011 books. Would it be okay if I "steal" this idea? :P

    Yes to Tom! Loved him in The Piper's Son. I couldn't stop thinking about the book days after I finished reading it. I saw Melina Marchetta mention on Twitter that the US paperback cover if even prettier than the hardcover, can't wait to see it. I have to bump up Rebel and Arrow on my TBR pile! I grabbed UK editions of the three books in the series because they look a lot better than the US editions. I've only read Knife though.

  2. Steal away! :)

    I saw Melina Marchetta's tweet about that too. I'll be interested to see what the cover looks like. And I bought the UK editions of Knife and Rebel too (when I ordered Arrow) because the covers are SO MUCH better than the US editions.

  3. I haven't read any of these! What kind of loser am I? I need to get on to it.