Truly, Madly, Deeply

After devouring “The Last Olympian” the day it came out (LOVED it!), I spent the last week blasting through Suzanne Collins’ brilliant series of “Gregor the Overlander” books. I know, I’m late to the party. The hardcover version of the first book in the series came out in 2003. What can I say…better late than never?

In case you weren’t aware, I LOVE middle grade fantasy. I’ll read just about anything with words (including cereal boxes and milk cartons) but I get quite passionate about MG books. When I went to my son’s class yesterday to read with some of the kids, his friend Zack came out with book one, “Gregor the Overlander.” I squealed. Literally. “Omigosh, you’re going to LOVE that book!” I gushed, I congratulated him on his brilliant reading choice. I might have overwhelmed him a bit. But I’ve known Zack since he was 3. He’s used to me :^)

So what makes me fall so deeply in love with a book?

As a reader, I can’t always verbalize what makes a story resonate for me. But as I delve more into the craft of writing, I’m learning to analyze, to step outside the story and look at the construct, how the writer leads me to truly love these characters without ever feeling manipulated.

For me it comes down to characters. I want to care about the people I’m reading about. I want them to be like me, but better than me. I want them to have the quick comeback that it takes me half an hour to realize I should have said. I want them to always do the honorable thing, even when in real life, the right choice might have been a little gray.

Yeah, it might be a tall order. I know as a writer the words don’t always flow the way I want them to. Sometimes it takes days, weeks, of puzzling a scene out in my head before I can dash off a thousand words. But as a reader, I expect no less. When I plunk down my hard-earned cash (especially for a hard cover!) I want to be blown away. I want to be transported away from the ordinary and left thinking about those characters long after I’ve read the last page.

What makes a book memorable for you?

16 thoughts on “Truly, Madly, Deeply

  1. It used to always be like you–characters, and that’s what really hooks me. Okay, that and prose. Lately, though, if the pace or plot is too slow, the characters and voice aren’t enough.

  2. Becky – I totally agree. If the pace or plot don’t hold up, I’m not going to love the book as much. (That was the case for me with the second half of “Graceling”). So I guess maybe it’s the combination of of character, plot and pace that makes a novel fabulous. But for me, character would still come out on top.

  3. Character comes first for me too. Although when someone has a way with words, I swoon and drool.

    Speaking of plunking down cash for a hardcover, I’m about to do just that for the Last Olympian. Wonder if my daughter will let me read it first…

  4. I totally agree with you on characters. I literally can not read a book if I don’t enjoy the main character. I don’t have to love them or even like them, but they have to be engaging. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  5. I pitch the Gregor the Overlander books to anyone who will listen. I think that they are fabulous.

    As for what hooks me, I wrote a post about that once, my 6 P’s of book appreciation: plot, premise, people, prose, place (a strong sense of place), and pictures. Those are roughly in order for me (with pictures only applicable in some cases). I’ll read for well-constructed plot and intriguing premise alone (and will rarely sit still for something that doesn’t have those), but strong characters, lyrical prose, and/or a strong sense of place are the things that take the book to the next level, and make it memorable for me.

  6. I agree that you have to care about what happens to the characters. Good plot of course helps, but I want to know the characters’ voice.

  7. Oh, I want to read these! Adding to list…
    Characters make all the difference. Especially in series. If I don’t care that much in book 1, chances are I won’t bother with book 2.

  8. Characters, the author’s voice, pacing – all important elements for me. Plot? Somewhat, but not quite as much as the others. I can read a quirky book filled with oddballs that has almost no plot – if it’s funny. But it does have to go somewhere.

  9. Lisa & Laura – Engaging characters! I couldn't have said it better myself :^)

    Jen – Gregor is the best! I like the 6 Ps, very catchy…

    Kelly – The agents and editors always talk about voice. You nailed that right on the head.

    PJ – You will love Gregor. Those books are right up your alley. And yes, for a series to work, you have to have an engaging character :^)

    Sarah – Good point!

  10. I haven’t read these books. I’ll have to put them on my TBR list!

    I love a book that is smart but witty, clever and fresh. It’s best when these traits come out in bot the plot and characterization, but I can be satisfied if even just one of them is done well.

    fun post!

  11. I’m with you. The Gregor books are AWESOME.

    Personally, I like things that are fast-paced, with plenty of action rather than a bunch of talking heads sitting around and debating the meaning of life. But I want compelling characters and a little bit of intellectual challenge too, not just brain candy.

    Yep, I’m demanding. 🙂

  12. Christy – I can’t recommend Gregor highly enough. They are great!

    Carrie – You may be demanding, but I think that’s exactly why the Gregor books are so good.

    Meredith – You know all about writing compelling characters. It’s so nice to see you back!

  13. OH! Now I’m having a complicated day of green tinges. Reading about The Last Olympian on Hipwritermama’s blog, then coming to you, reading of it here, and thinking I NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.

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