It always makes me smile how similar and different Mez and I are. Some points on her 5 Ingredients of the Perfect Book I agree whole heartedly with. Others…not so much. So here’s my list!
A Strong Hero
Mez wrote about how she likes humble heroes, the ones who get “swept up in adventures” and I totally agree. I love books where the characters are like ‘wait, what?’ and suddenly find themselves in crazy situations. But I also want them to be decisive, brave, and independent. Cara deciding to jump from a bell tower despite all logic (Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville), Krista storming a castle to rescue a prisoner simply because it is the right thing to do (Graceling by Kristin Cashore) and, of course, Harry Potter, thrust into a strange world with strange rules, and yet he not only thrives, he saves the world.
Again, a definite agreeing with Mez on this one, whether it is human or animal friendships. A good co-character can really make the hero shine. It gives them someone to banter with, to fight with and support them. Animals often give heroes a confidante and someone who protects them and needs protecting. Ron and Hermione are two of the best examples ever; without them, the Harry Potter series wouldn’t be nearly as fascinating. And Mongo, Maggie’s dog in Shadows by Robin McKinley, provides a lot of comic relief, as well as comforting Maggie when her life goes to pieces.
A Clean Plot
And here’s where we differ a bit. By clean, I mean not convoluted, epic, or political. Or, ahem, too much history. If it’s interwoven into the plot well, it’s all good, but no history for the sake of history. And absolutely no politics, either real or fiction. I put down The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) for this reason. As for convoluted/epic…I am so sorry, but by that I mean things like Lord of the Rings. Too many people with too many plotlines. I don’t want to have to consult a character list every time the point of view changes because I can’t remember who it is or what’s going on. Again, so sorry to all you LOTR fans out there!
*This also applies to series. I greatly prefer standalone books or, at the very least, books that don’t end in cliffhangers.
A Good Romance
Unless I’m reading a middle grade book, I expect some romance. My absolute favorite is when they start out hating each other and slowly come to like each other (Academy 7, Starflight, Spelled). And I absolutely abhor (that’s a great word, the perfect word) love triangles. Quick clarification, by this, I do not mean like Bella, Edward and Jacob. Let’s face it, as long as Edward was around, Jacob didn’t stand a chance. He was a rival, not part of a triangle. What I mean is the ‘Oh, I don’t know which guy to choose, so I’ll just string both along for the whole book’ thing. Just, no. Refer to the first point: Decisive characters rule.
I demand happy endings in books. If I read a book and the ending is unhappy or unsatisfying, I will not read another by that author. I’m petty like that. And do not kill any of my favorite characters. J. K. Rowling gets away with it because, yeah, she’s amazing. But I’m still a little ticked at Alexandra Bracken for…something…in the Darkest Minds series. But I’ll get over it and finish the series eventually. I started it because I thought it was a standalone book…sigh.
That’s my list! The only thing I would add is, of course, fantasy and science fiction beat any other genre any day.
So what do you think of my list? Agree, disagree? Got any books you’ve read (or written) that fit my list? I’d love to hear about them!