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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Year in Review: Favorite Characters of 2009

2009 seemed to be the year of memorable characters for me. I don't know if I just had extremely good luck picking my books this year or if character is becoming more of a focus for authors, but that stand-outs really stood out this year.
Here are my favorite characters of 2009. If you are not familiar with them, I would suggest you become so in 2010.

Thirteenth Child Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic, #1)
by Patricia C. Wrede
EFF -- Eff was imminently root-forable.  She was endearing, and her situation (raised to think she was a ticking time bomb) and her transformation as she begins to come into her own were fun and engaging to read, and her voice was memorable and endearing.  I eagerly await a continuation of her story.

Savvy Savvy
by Ingrid Law
MIBBS BEAUMONT --Having perhaps one of the most memorable voices of any character to come out the last year, everything about Mibbs was infectious.  She is one of the most sparkling characters I’ve ever read.  I fell in love with her story and the way she told it; well deserved Newbery.

Soulless Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1)
by Gail Carriger
ALEXIA TARABOTTI -- Hands-down favorite character of 2009.  I’m going stir-crazy waiting for Changeless, because I need back in Miss Tarabotti’s world and head.  There are a number of characters in this book who amuse me, Alexia Tarabotti is one of the most fun, refreshing characters I’ve come across in some time. Sassy, confident, funny, occasionally clueless and always delightful -- what more could you want?

The Hunger Games The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)
by Suzanne Collins
KATNISS EVERDEEN (…and Peeta…and Cinna) -- Hunger Games trilogy -- What can be said that hasn’t been already?  Like millions of rabid readers, I fell into Katniss’ head and didn’t want to get out again.  Her plight is full of delicious tension, and I loved every minute of living it with her.  She’s resilient, smart and strong, with just a touch of naiveté, and I love it.  Peeta is a stand-up good guy, and you can’t help but root for him, even if you’re Team Gale.  And what to say about Cinna other than massive amounts of ♥ …

The Name of the Wind The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)
by Patrick Rothfuss
KVOTHE --Ever a penchant for the cocky guys have I, and Kvothe (one of his many names) gives it in spades.  Saving grace?  It seems that all his big braggart claims may be true, and this cocky little bastard is a true talented genuis, who may just have - gasp - a heart. (Well, other than mine.)

Moon Called Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)
by Patricia Briggs
MERCEDES THOMPSON -- There are lists on many a persons bookshelf comprising stories with strong female leads, and Mercy should damn well top them.  I love her world, I love her thoughts, and I love the balance she’s struck of being a truly tough, kick-ass chick who doesn’t feel the need to do away with any sign of femininity (even if it’s occasionally uncomfortable for a tough gal).

Wildwood Dancing Wildwood Dancing (Wildwood, #1)
by Juliet Marillier
JENA, GOGU, ET AL -- Retold fairy tales are some of my favorite stories, though they have a tendency towards stock characters; Wildwood Dancing is one of the best.  Jena, a strong girl in a time and place where such a thing is frowned upon, is a delightful heroine with an engaging voice.  Her tale is filled with fascinating characters, but the one that stole the show (and many hearts) is Jena’s pet frog, Gogu.  Yep.  If you haven’t met Jena and Gogu, I think it’s time you do.

The Book Thief The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
DEATH -- Not everyone loves an unconventional narrator, but I think if you give him half a chance, Death will win you over.  His narration is quirky and unusual: he gives everything away before it happens -- because when you’re Death, what’s the point in waiting?  It’s a foregone conclusion.  In this award-winning tale, it’s not about where you’re going, it’s about the journey.  Death leads you on a journey you won’t soon forget, and he does it with a style and candor that will take over your brain.  ‘Memorable’ doesn’t even begin to describe this man.  Um, entity.

Madapple Madapple
by Christina Meldrum
ASLAUG HELLIG --Aslaug is a character study in the extreme.  A brilliant girl, raised in near seclusion by an equally brilliant - and extremely disturbed - mother, Aslaug has some issues.  And while you question everything she says, and while her life sometimes makes your skin crawl, you can’t help but want to protect her and see her truimph.  A truly fascinating lead in a truly fascinating story.

Sunshine Sunshine
by Robin McKinley
SUNSHINE & CONSTANTINE -- I know this was written a few years back, but I read it this year on a naughty librarian recommendation (more coming on the Nls later…).  I adore Sunshine.  Something about her just connected with me.  And Connie just invades your head.  I typically have issues with McKinley (*ahem* grammar), and the issues are mostly outweighed by the stories.  In this one, all issues were forgotten.  I think this may be McKinley’s best character work (and not just Sunshine); the characters seem vital and real, and I felt for Sunshine, worried for Sunshine, and wanted to know her as a friend.  And I want to get my hands on some of her giant buns. (My god that sounded dirty.  Not at all what I meant; if you read it, you’ll understand.)

I Capture the Castle I Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith
CASSANDRA MORTMAIN --I read this classic on the recommendation of a friend, after seeing the movie, which I loved.  The Mortmain family is one of those casts of characters that will always stay with you, in the best way.  They define eccentric, and Cassandra, the middle child who tells their story, is by turns the straight man to their antics and the lynchpin that holds their crazy together with her own brand of crazy.  Lovable, laughable, and all together enjoyable, Cassandra and her story has wormed it’s way into readers hearts for over half a century for a reason.

Daughter of the Forest Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters, #1)
by Juliet Marillier
SORCHA -- The idea of a story being narrated by someone who is forced into muteness, all the while undergoing crazy tasks is compelling, and Sorcha's voice came through loud and clear, even when she herself could not.  Her story is a very rich, complete retelling of the Six Swans fairy tale, by turns joyous and harrowing.  Thoroughly enjoyable for nearly everyone (I even know some guys who like this one -- that's saying something, for a fairy tale.)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan
MARY -- I have friends who don’t like Mary one little bit.  They find her selfish or whiny or obtuse.  I find her none of those things, and think that she is as compelling as the world she lives in. (Which, if you didn’t know, is filled with zombies.)  I like that Mary never settles; I like she is always striving and always questioning.  Not only does she know there’s got to be more to the world, but she’s willing to risk everything to find it.

MARY KATHERINE (MERRICAT) BLACKWELL -- A delightfully warped little girl, Merricat is one of those characters who stays with you, and who makes you root for them even while you suspect they may in fact be the villain of the piece.  Brilliant.


  1. I haven't read all of these (looks like I might have some more books to put on my list). But I agree with you on Cassandra Mortmain and Mibs Beaumont. Both are great characters and very memorable.

  2. Oooo fab list! I see some I really need to read :)

  3. I've only read one of the books on this list, but they all look great. I really want to read the Patricia C. Wrede book! I love her!

  4. So many good books last year, and more to come this year!

  5. Fantastic choices! I agree with the ones I've read, and the few that I haven't are definitely on my list. You know, that's probably your fault. :-)

  6. From THE BOOK THIEF I would certainly add 3 more characters. This book is completely full of well-created characters that make me cry. Liesel, Hans and Rudy.

  7. JG - you know how happy that makes me, right? (I laugh in a somewhat evil Montgomery Burns way...)

    Raila - Yes, they are certainly all fantastic characters (in a beyond fantastic book), but Death stood out as one of the most memorable of the year.

    Bookworm (and everyone else) - I certainly hope to see similar posts. If a character leaves an impression, its likely to be a good book, and I want to know about it!

  8. You're a girl after my own heart with this list.

    I see characters on here I love, like Sunshine and Constantine, Cassandra Mortmain, Mary, Katniss, KVOTHE...

    and characters I am dying to meet!

    Excellent job, Misty!

  9. DEATH is always a great character... esp. as depicted by Terry Pratchett, but that's a personal bias. A great character I read this year was in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Flavia De Luce... you should check that one out! Also Rae Spellman, the Spellman files series. I don't think I've ever met anyone so interesting... damn, now I have to go make a list!

  10. Great post. This was so much fun to read. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Oh so I so loved both Daughter of the Forest and The Book Thief!! Both great characters with an unusual 'voice'


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