Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Character Traits I Love
Quirky But Not Annoying
I’m a sucker for hilarious, adorable, quirky characters in novels. I think that’s the main reason why I adored The Hating Game so much. Lucy’s character wasn’t your typical heroine, she collected smurfs and wore vintage clothes and red lipstick. Then you have Violet who is unintentionally vulgar and gets herself in embarrassing situations all the time. The best part about these characters, particularly when they appear in romance novels, is that they finally find someone who appreciates all their idiosyncrasies.
I think a big part of the reason why adorkable characters, particularly male characters, have a special place in my heart is because I’m married to a big nerd. My husband loves playing board games and when I first met him he used to play Dungeons and Dragons religiously. Though that was never my thing, I always secretly thought his nerdiness was kind of cute. He’s obsessed with Star Wars, plays games with miniature models, and when he talks about his engineering job it goes right over my head but I love every second of it. So, when I come across adorkable characters who are nerdy and kind, it always makes me happy.
Grumpy But Misunderstood
Please see: Rip from Luna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata, Theo from All In (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott
I like to refer to this as The Darcy Affect. These are the characters who are misconceived as mean or grouchy, but in reality, have a huge heart and even though they may seem untouchable, in reality, they are often the most vulnerable.
Hilariously Nonchalant and Over-confident
Please see: Monty from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, Adrian from Frostbite by Richelle Mead
This is one of my all-time favorite traits in a character and oftentimes I will love a book no matter what if a character like this is done right. I think the first time I ever came across a character like this that was done so well was Adrian from the Vampire Academy series. He’s troubled but puts on this sort of aloof front. These characters are so freaking funny and often very charming and self-deprecating, which makes me just love them all the more.
Please see: Harper from A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
I get a little burnt out from the SUPER KICKASS heroines in a lot of fantasy novels. It’s great to have a badass heroine, but sometimes they can get on my nerves. I much prefer the low-key badassery of characters like Harper. A girl who is underestimated (even by herself), whose power lies in her willpower, loyalty, and strength-of-mind. She overcomes her disability to the point that it isn’t what defines her. These characters are inspiring and far more relatable.
Ultra-charismatic and Magnetic
Please see: Georgina from Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead, Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This is a trait I’m even drawn to in real life. I love coming across people in books and in life that have that little extra something. That magnetism that draws people to them. I’ve seen it in action several times and, boy, do I love reading about it. Often these characters are optimistic and a bright shining light – typically paired with characters who desperately need some light in their lives. They are able to pull even the most introverted people out of their shells.
Please see: Gray from A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, Mark from Stray by Rachel Vincent
Ugh, this one pulls at the heartstrings. I adore characters who are deeply loyal, almost to a fault. Typically they are side characters: The friends who stand by the hero or heroine no matter the mistakes they make, the leaders of the armies who will fight until their last breath. Gray showed this from the very first time he appeared on page in A Curse So Dark and Lonely.
Give me a deeply devious protagonist or antagonist any day. I couldn’t possibly choose when I like it more – in a villain or in a hero. In the examples I gave above, these are all protagonists. There is something so, I don’t know, satisfying about an exceptionally evil character. Particularly when you can sympathize with them despite some of the horrible things they have done. They are typically outrageously intelligent and calculating. I also very much appreciate when they do not break character, even when they are “doing good.”
Please see: Aiden from The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata, Sal from Kulti by Mariana Zapata
This can take shape in many ways. In a fantasy novel, it’s a hero who refuses to give up. Who fights to the bitter end and beyond. In contemporary novels this translates to someone who perseveres whether through emotional turmoil or, in the case of Aiden and Sal, who train hard for the sport that they love. All of these things are extremely motivating to me when I read novels with characters like these.
Please see: Rhys from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas, Legend from Legendary/Finale by Stephanie Garber
I mean… can you blame me? While sometimes the overpowered hero or heroine can be a little much, sometimes it’s done really, really well. Particularly when the badassery is paired with an extremely seductive character who knows their power over others, yet is entirely vulnerable when it comes to one particular person. Gimme, gimme, gimme!
If you know of any other books with characters like these, I would LOVE some recs! Leave them in the comments below!