I'm really excited to have Sadie S. Forsythe on the blog today! I read her debut novel The Weeping Empress and was blindsided! It's nothing like I've ever read ... combination folk tale, epic saga and sci-fi adventure ... set in samurai Japan. And lucky us! Sadie is also offering up three e-books of The Weeping Empress.
Now read through and let's chat about unlikeable characters, those we love to hate, but would hate not have around. Welcome Sadie!
|Sadie S. Forsythe|
I spend quite a lot of time on Goodreads.
I can't help it. It's a community of bibliophiles... just up my alley. For some time there has been a series of threads on books you would like to lem, or throw off a cliff (which I think is a pretty clever title). More recently I've come across 'characters you would like to lem,' instead of simply books. I paid absolutely no attention at first, but I've just read two books that brought the thread back to mind.
The books in question both had main characters that I detested. I mean really riled me up with a sense of indignant distaste. The difference between them is that I didn't actually dislike one of the books, while I did the other. The obvious question is what's the distinction? Why did an unlikeable protagonist spell doom for one book and not the other?
The main character gets more screen time, so to speak, than any other. So disliking them doesn't bode well for a book in general, but it apparently also doesn't immediately it sailing over the proverbial cliff. After a little thought I came up with an answer, maybe not the answer, but one that works for me.
I'm not naming the books because I don't think it would be fair to bias anyone's opinion of them. After all, another reader might feel completely different about them. But in the first book, the one I didn't dislike, what I found unappealing about the main character (and for the record I didn't much care for the other characters either) was the way she responded to the challenge presented to her. She was stressed out and tended to take it out on others. She whinged and repeatedly locked herself in the bathroom to get away, leaving others to deal with the problem. These others were baffled at her behaviour, chastised her about it, and got on with life.
In real life no one is saintly enough to like everyone. Sometimes two people just don't 'click.' Literary characters are much the same way and unlikeable characters often introduce an element of realism to a book, especially if that person isn't scripted as the cliché baddie. Their words and actions, however, have to carry some sort of resolution. If the message they convey is one the reader can't relate to (for example, it's ok to selfishly endanger everyone around you as long you are just stubborn enough about it), then it is increasingly likely that the whole book is going to be coloured by an ugly shadow. In such circumstances, though the character is the initial catalyst, the easily identifiable point of repugnance; they aren't really the underlying issue. The inherent theme of the book is.
To return to the above example, the theme of the first book was one of redemption. The character was eventually forced to learn from her mistakes and change before the book could reach its logical conclusion. This is something I, as a reader, can appreciate. I think that the theme of the second was supposed to be that love conquers all, but it really felt more like 'girls who act like stubborn princesses are treated like royalty and get their own way eventually.' This doesn't work for me and I think probably wouldn't for most people.
So, that's what I think. How about you? Agree? Disagree? I'd love your opinion on the matter.
About Sadie S. Forsythe Sadie is an author, perpetual grad student, wife, mother, would be aikidoka, wishful world traveler, over-aged manga addict, nail biter, occasional beader, passionate reader, internet dependent, American woman in her mid-thirties. She waited a lot of tables in college and then spent seven years investigating allegations of abuse and neglect with the Missouri and Florida Departments of Children and Families. Now she lives just outside Manchester England and pretends that she doesn’t miss Tennessee.
Follow Sadie: Blog: http://sadieforsythe.com | Twitter: @SadieSForsythe | Goodreads | Facebook
GIVEAWAY: 3 e-books of The Weeping Empress by Sadie S. Forsythe
Ends 10/06/2012 EST
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Synopsis of The Weeping Empress by Sadie S. Forsythe: Chiyo Alglaeca was happy in her life. That is, until it was all taken away. Forced into notoriety, stalked by a mysterious cult, hunted by the emperor, and facing betrayal at every turn she clings to the only safety she can find: two enigmatic men and the sharp bringer of death, Salvation. The Weeping Empress explores the devastating effects of loss, the hunt for redemption, and the price of destiny. It questions the true meaning of evil and asks what monster is not also an innocent?