Chat Between Chapters: Important to Like the Characters?

July 13, 2014 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 29


 Does whether or not you like the characters in a book affect your overall enjoyment of the book?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:

I really think it is!  If I don’t care about the protagonist at all, I just don’t care about what happens to him/her and so the plot of the book is no longer interesting to me. I really do need to connect with the people the book is about, otherwise, what is the point, right? Now i don’t have to like each and every character, if it is a book about many characters at once. I might hate a few and love a few and that is OK. But I do have to make some sort of connection.

Rose review avatar Rose:

For the most part I think it is absolutely imperative that a reader like the characters in the book he/she is reading. If I do not like the main character in the book, am I going to bother to finish the book? (Well, in my case, yes, I probably still would but that is only because I have his strange obsessive compulsive thing with finishing books I started. If I do not finish reading the book, it is like the book won or something, and honestly, who wants to get beaten by a bad book. No thanks!) Now, is it important to like ALL of the characters? No. It is not. I think so long as you like the main character, you are good. And if its a romance, you gotta like the love interest of course! However, I know a lot of people who do not care for all of the characters in George r.r. Martin’s Game of Thrones, but they still read the book. I do find it a little daunting to read a chapter titled after the name of a character that I do not really care to hear about. I think if an author is going to write from several characters POVs than that author has a responsibility to make each and everyone of those characters very very interesting. So what about everyone else? Ever read a book in which you hated the characters? Did you still like the book or did you DNF?

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29 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: Important to Like the Characters?”

  1. Tina at Mommynificent

    There has to be at least a little something likeable or at the very least redeemable about the characters for me to make it past the first few chapters in a book. I don’t spend time with people I don’t like. Why would I spend time with fictional characters I don’t like? 🙂

    Thanks so much for being a part of Booknificent Thursday this week!
    Tina at Mommynificent recently posted…Congratulations to our Winners! and Booknificent Thursday Link Up Party #55

    • Julie

      “I don’t spend time with people I don’t like. Why would I spend time with fictional characters I don’t like?” <-- THIS! YES! Sums it all up nicely.

  2. Bookworm Brandee

    Absolutely! If I’m not connecting with the MC, the book isn’t enjoyable at all. If I don’t care about the characters, why would I care about the plot? I don’t have to like all the characters – it’s pretty imperative that I like the main ones.
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Teaser Tuesday ~ #27**

    • Julie

      Yes exactly! If you don’t care about the characters, what is there to really care about? Thanks Brandee 🙂

    • Julie

      I’m definitely with you. Characters have to matter to be enjoyable. I agree that a lack of connection with them just doesn’t work.

    • Julie

      I agree. If the characters are just frustrating, the book isn’t all that enjoyable to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • Julie

      I agree. The character has to be interesting enough to care about. I like how you said you need something to invest in. That’s very important. If I don’t feel invested in a book, why bother, right?

      • Charleen

        Exactly. And even if the main character is unlikeable, there are other ways I can feel engaged, through secondary characters or elements of the plot or even the writing itself… but I will agree that if I don’t care about the character, it’s a lot harder (though not impossible) for those other things to step up and fill that void.
        Charleen recently posted…Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts – #28

        • Rose

          Well said, Charleen. I have had a few books that I did not like the characters very much (can’t think of any off of the top of my head right this minute)but because i decided to finish the book, I ended up liking the book because the author’s writing style was so good.

  3. April @ The Steadfast Reader

    I disagree too. While I don’t think that it’s imperative that you LIKE a character, I do think it’s important that you’re INTERESTED in a character. Does that make sense? Herman Koch novels are full of unlikable characters, but they’re all so weird that you can’t help but wonder where the stories go.
    April @ The Steadfast Reader recently posted…Spread the Love 2.0: Week Twenty-Three

    • Julie

      I think being interested in the character is part of liking them, in a way. If you’re not interested at all and don’t care about the character in any way, then it is hard to enjoy the book.

    • Rose

      April, I agree. Like Julie said, I think that finding a character interesting is liking them. I know I did not exactly say that though, but you make a good point and I am now including “finding the characters interesting” as part of “liking” them. 🙂

  4. Jordin @ A Bottomless Book Bag

    I kind of disagree. I don’t need to like a character in order to enjoy a book. And I really enjoy characters in a book that you love to hate, like horrible villains that have redeeming qualities but you still hate them. (tv example: Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl). I like reading from a villain’s perspective every now and then because it’s fun to see what makes them act so horribly. That’s why I’m super pumped for Fairest by Marissa Meyer. I can’t wait to get inside Queen Levana’s head!
    Jordin @ A Bottomless Book Bag recently posted…TTT (10): Top Ten Blogging Confessions

    • Julie

      Ooh I didn’t even think to talk about villains. Thanks for making that point. YES I love great villains. But, even if I hate them for being evil, I still like them as a villain, if that makes sense. My favorite villain is from The Lost Symbol. Darkest character I’ve read in a while.

    • Rose

      I usually am the opposite. I do not like reading what motivates the villains. I usually get bored with reading from a villains POV. I like my villains bad, but I also like thinking that they are crazy and capable of anything. I have a hard time relating to villains, so I do not usually like the story telling from the villain’s POV. Does that make sense?

  5. Kimber Leigh Wheaton

    For me characters make or break a novel. If I don’t like the main character, there’s going to be a problem. That doesn’t mean the character has to be nice or likeable. If an author is telling me to like a character but she comes across as a selfish *&$#@# then that’s a problem.

    I also don’t like it when the male lead is completely unlikeable. Bad boys can have a soft side, they have to or I’ll question the female lead’s sanity. Have the guy rescue a kitten or something to show his soft side.

    Villains on the other hand… bring on the bad. I really love hating them.
    Kimber Leigh Wheaton recently posted…Book Blast: Becoming Lady Lockwood by Jennifer Moore – Excerpt & Giveaway

    • Julie

      Agree! Characters do not have to be nice or likeable exactly, but they do have to be interesting and worth investing in. And yes to awesome villains.

    • Rose

      I agree 100% with what you said, Kimber. I like a female lead to be relate-able and the male lead to be like-able. As for the villains, the badder the better.

  6. Terri M. LeBlanc

    “I think if an author is going to write from several characters POVs than that author has a responsibility to make each and everyone of those characters very very interesting.”

    I think this is VERY difficult for authors to do. Martin, IMO, has a rare talent in which each character he creates does have a unique voice and unique motivation for their actions. Other others, Veronica Roth, comes to mind as a recent read of mine, who, I feel, wasn’t able to pull that off effectively in Allegiant. As a result, I disliked the final book.

    My question back to you ladies is this…how does hating/disliking a character drive you to read a book? There are some really intriguing villains or unlikeable characters out there. Gillian Flynn might be the queen of unlikeable characters right now. Heck, I suppose you could throw Joffery from GoT in that bucket! Do the bad character’s actions and motivations drive you to push forward in a book? Do you keep reading hoping the justice is served?
    Terri M. LeBlanc recently posted…Feature and Follow #209-26: Happy Father’s Day

    • Charleen

      Yes! 100% about Allegiant. The two POV characters sounded exactly the same to me. Combine that with the fact that the first two books only had the one narrator, I really kept forgetting that I was supposed to be in the head of someone else, until he’d mention the original character, and then I’d have that “wait, what?” moment before I remembered where I was, so to speak, and continued on. Very disrupting.
      Charleen recently posted…Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts – #28

      • Rose

        I had this issue, too. I think it is so important for authors to make a clear distinction in POVs. This was the issue I had with Beautiful Creatures. I could never believe Ethan’s voice was that of a teen-aged boy.

    • Julie

      Good point Terri 🙂 If I hate the characters completely, it drives me away from the book. like Flynn’s Gone Girl. I didn’t give a rat’s behind about anyone. I just wanted that train wreck to end. But, I kind of had to keep reading to know what happens, even though I hated the ending, and so I wouldn’t miss out on a book club discussion. There’s a difference to me in hating someone for being the bad guy but loving them as a bad character, and just hating them all together because they are so despicable that there is nothing interesting about them but their hatred. Villains have to be interesting too.

    • Rose

      Sorry to be joining the discussion a little late, but I really wanted to reply…I know I actually said, “Like” the characters, but I would like to rephrase that to “I have to find the characters interesting.” That is what I mean by “like” the characters. So, yeah, even a character I hate, that I am MEANT to hate, like a big bad villain, I will still like reading the book. Also, I do agree with you Terri, that is is hard for authors to get readers interested in several POVs. I think, though, that if a reader is getting bored or confused from the different POVs then that author did not do a very good job. Perhaps that story could have been told from only one POV, instead of 10 or 2 or whatever. I think POV is a very important choice and if a character is given a direct narrative, then that character MUST be interesting or the book suffers.

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