This week’s TTT (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) has been causing me some serious problems (of the first world variety, obviously). I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to think of characters I like who other people don’t, or characters other people like but I don’t. As one of the most contrary people I know, it shouldn’t be that hard for me to do this.
But it is.
I have, however, finally come up with a list. Phew. What would the world do without me and my lists?
Having given this a disproportionate amount of thought, I’ve realised the characters for whom I have strong feelings of not-liking-ness can be arranged neatly into categories, which correspond to current popular archetypes in YA.
The Tormented Prince
Despite my epic love of fantasy, I am pretty bored of reading about young men who have been brought up with every privilege imaginable, who somehow still manage to be really unhappy and, frankly, boring. On my hit-list here are some characters who, I believe, are quite popular; Dorian from Throne of Glass, Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses, Cal from Red Queen and Merek from The Sin Eater’s Daughter. I find Dorian’s popularity particularly baffling; I’ve read quite a few reviews and comments in which people express a strong preference for Dorian over Chaol which I literally have no comprehension of whatsoever. I am all for fun-loving princes in the style of Rhy from A Darker Shade of Magic/A Gathering of Shadows. If you’re rich and hot and powerful, bloody enjoy it.
The Manic Pixie Girl (or Boy)
Oh my god, if I am sick of anything in my life it is Manic Pixie Girls. I don’t care what John Green says: there is literally NO WAY AT ALL that real-life teenage boys would find a manic pixie girl appealing. They would run away. Not after the pixie girl, but a million miles in the opposite direction. In this category, obviously, I’m placing Alaska from Looking for Alaska, Zelda from Thanks for the Trouble and bloody Margo from Paper Towns, who is possibly the most annoying character in the whole history of literature (obviously, this is not true. Anna Karenina is the most annoying character in the history of literature). Despite the gender-bending nature of the inclusion of a Manic Pixie Boy in Fans of the Impossible Life in the form of Sebby, he annoyed me as well. There is nothing romantic about people who are fundamentally unreliable. It is time authors stopped lying to teenagers about this.
The Evil Queen
At present, I still quite like this trope, because there’s something comic about the ridiculous hyperbole of all the psychotic queens in YA fantasy; I’m putting it in this TTT because I think most readers dislike these characters, while I find them weirdly entertaining. There is, however, probably a limit to my tolerance for reading the same character in every fantasy series, so I am hereby issuing a warning to all authors to think of something new. On my Evil Queens list are Amarantha from A Court of Thorns and Roses, Elara from Red Queen and whatever her name was in The Sin Eater’s Daughter, whose incestuous plotting crossed the line from comic into creepy.
Look at that, I came up with 11! Who knew I was actually such a powerhouse of contrary character-related feeling?