What I mean is what about a book blows you away. When you find yourself loving a book is it because of the plot or the characters? If one part of the book is lacking what would you rather have? Can you forgive the lack of plot development if the characters are fantastic or would you rather have great plot development but lackluster characters? For me it's the latter. I really don't need to love the characters to love a book.
In fact, sometimes I will like a book despite not really liking the characters. One of my favorite fantasy series is The Magicians series by Lev Grossman, a very hit or miss series for people but I'm a big fan. That being said, I kind of hate these characters. Quentin Coldwater is a whiny brat who is never happy even when he gets his heart's desire but I still love this series and want him to succeed. And then there is one of my favorite books, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Heathcliff and Cathy are terrible people but I love this book because the plot is full of mystery and their tortured love story makes for an engaging plot. I've done a whole post on my feelings on unlikable characters and for me liking the characters is not really tantamount to liking the book
When I think about the books that have been 10 star reads for me, and the books that I have been blown away by this year, it is because of the exciting plot, the fact that it built to a thrilling conclusion, or that I loved the larger theme that the book examined. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, despite being very character-driven, worked because it was a story about friendship in a historical setting fraught with danger, the stakes were high here. Same thing with Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. It was a story about friendship but there was a lot of action and suspense in a historical period full of drama. The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury is another one with amazing world-building and while the pacing was slower, it had tons of mystery and the plot built to a thrilling conclusion that incorporated the world-building in a big way.
On the other side of the aisle, the books that I have not loved were those where one of my pluses were the characters but I found the plot to be lacking. Yesterday I reviewed Legend by Marie Lu and that is a perfect example of what I mean. I loved June and Day. I found them complex, likable, and I wanted them to succeed but I was missing the action and the complex world-building. Whereas The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey had a really amazing world and likable characters but the plot was so basic and convenient I wasn't as engaged as I could have been.
The best books of course do both. A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab had phenomenal characters, I mean Lila Bard, Kell, Rhy, the Dane Twins! All amazing and all complex, dubious, and in some cases diabolical. But it also had a thrilling plot. I was on the edge of my seat with the high stakes magical adventure and when it all ended in a thrilling conclussion I was left wanting more. Same thing with The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace. I absolutely adored everyone of these characters and they had some truly amazing ships but that plot development and that climax, so fantastic!
|A feeling I often get with amazing books!|
That's mostly why I don't read a lot of contemporary romances. They are more character-driven novels. I like a good coming of age story as much as the next person but I need a really engaging plot. I need a goal and something to look forward to at the end of the book. Something to strive for and something that hold the book together. I loved Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson because there was the added plot device of completing the list and finding Sloan. It was working to something. Same thing with Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. It was working towards something. The plot revolved around the subtle mystery of figuring out who Blue is and him and Simon meeting. Even though it was subtle, it was there and that's what I liked.
What about you? Do you prefer a really strong plot or do you need great characters? Are you more of a plot-driven reader or a character-driven one? Also what do you think about my new name for my discussion posts? My Thoughts Figuratively. I mean they're not necessarily non-literal thoughts I just found it funny to call them that. Leave me me a comment with your thoughts (literal or figurative). Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!