Friday, December 19, 2014

Favorite Characters of 2014

Every year I like to do a list of the characters I've fallen in love with during that year's reading. This list always ends up including some books that don't make my end of year Top 10 and it feels good to spread the love. This is only for new-to-me in 2014 characters. I may have read a book that includes characters I love but met in previous years. They won't be on this list.

Here are my previous lists for the blog:

All the residents of Dimilioc (especially Ezekiel) from Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier
I fell for all the characters in Black Dog fast. And then they were all in immediate peril. This book was stressful to read let me tell you. I love the family dynamics in this book. All of the relationships are so well done, expressing closeness, but also the hardness that comes with living with people and fitting your lives together. The character Neumeier created for this and the voices, personalities, and struggles she gave each just make them jump off the page. I just want them all to stay safe.

The Fletcher Family (and Thalia and just everyone on Dare Island) from Virginia Kantra's Dare Island series
This may be due to my experiences growing up in a military family, but I just adore the Fletchers and I love the way Kantra includes all the generations of their family in her books. The kids are important. (And incredibly well written. Too many adult romance authors can not write kids. You would think they had never been around a kid when you read their books. Kantra does not have such problems.) The older generation is important. Kantra just writes family so well. 

Parker, Millie, Alyse, and Liam from Emma Barry's The Easy Part Series
I used to read nothing but romance when I wasn't reading for school, the second half of high school, through college, and my first four years of teaching. I read mostly historical. I wasn't a big fan of contemporaries. And then I took a really big break because I was tired of the formula and tropes. The past couple of years I've started to pick it back up and found that there are some smart talented authors doing new things and breaking old standard rules. Barry is one of those. She writes smart people are still figuring things out and her portrayal of modern romance is incredibly realistic. Of all the elements of her books I love, it's the characters I love the most. They are smart, witty, engaging, and flawed. They are not interchangeable, and have distinct personalities that bring them to life. 

Neverfell from A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
From my review: "This is the story of Neverfell, a wide-eyed, sheltered, compassionate, cheerful, inquisitive girl who longs to explore and see the world outside the front door she has been locked behind as long as she can remember. Characters like this usually drive me insane. There is so much goodness in her. An unbelievable amount of goodness. I normally can't stand this, but Neverfell caught me and held me and made me love her. And even though I knew she was heading for a host of awful discoveries that were going to change and disillusion her, I found I didn't want them to change her." I can't think of any better way to describe her than that. The courage she shows throughout the course of this book and who she is by the end is such a brilliant study in how to write this type of character and not make her hard to swallow. It shows how to give her depth and room to grow while maintaining who she is. And it's beautiful. 

Milo, his parents, and their guests at Greenglass House by Kate Milford
I love a good mystery and Greenglass House is definitely that. It is also a fascinating character study in every way like all the best closed room mysteries are. Milo is the center of this, and if he doesn't steal your heart, I may begin to suspect you just don't have one. No really. From the guilt he feels about imagining his biological parents mixed with his love for his adopted parents to the way he rises to the challenge of solving  mystery and saving the day, he is a wonderful young hero and the best of protagonists. 

Jamie, Helen, and Joris from The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
As I was reading this, I could see why so many have compared the lives of the Homeward Bounders to that of military kids. This may be why I attached myself so quickly to the characters. I get them. Or it could just be that Diana Wynne Jones was incapable of writing bad characters. I've yet to read a book of hers that hasn't caused me to love and grief for her characters. Here is was a bit more personal though because their story is just so tragic in so many ways. But boy did I enjoy reading it and watching them win against the power that were controlling them, even if the winning came at such a high price. My heart.

The Maids from Jennifer McGowan's Maids of Honor series 
From my review of Maid of Secrets: "Basically? Yay for smart girls who spy, study, actively train, and come together to run circles around the men trying to control them! I mean really." I just love every single one of them: Meg's stubborn independence, Beatrice's beautiful brokeness, Jane's ruthless strength, Sophia's caring sensitivity, and Anne's brilliance. Most especially I love how they band together to support one another even when they are not necessarily liking one another at that moment. Their group is a brilliant depiction of female friendship and loyalty. It's the best. 

Which characters stole your heart this year? 

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