Last Friday, I discussed my favorite book heroines and why I love them so much. Now it’s time to give the guys a turn!
Similar to last week’s list, these characters are a varied bunch. However, they do share one defining quality in that they’re not flat characters. In all of the books mentioned, the authors have taken the time to create three-dimensional, unique characters that aren’t simple cliches.
(By the way, if you want to read more rants about character cliches, head on over to Between Reality and check out my guest post there!)
I don’t have as long of an introduction as I did last week, so I’ll let the characters do the rest of the talking. Here are my Top 5 Heroes (in no particular order)!
The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan
Morally grey antiheroes are “in” right now. While I can certainly see the merits of writing such a character and even love some characters like that (more on that later), there’s nothing quite like a character who sticks to his principles no matter what. Charlie West is such a character.
At the start of the novel, Charlie’s lost his memory – a whole year of it, in fact. Soon he learns that he’s been accused of murdering one of his friends, and he’s currently a fugitive from the law. But even though he can’t remember anything, Charlie knows he would never do something like that, and he sets out to find the truth about what happened.
That’s another thing about Charlie – he perseveres no matter what. Even when he’s tired, hurt, and starving, he doesn’t give up. All that with the fact that characters like Charlie are increasingly rare in fiction (especially YA) is why he’s one of my favorites.
Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
Hey remember how last week I mentioned I have an obsession with spies? This is part of that.
Alex Rider is your typical teenage guy living in England, living a perfectly normal life. That is, until his uncle’s death turns out to be something more than a car crash. From there, Alex is introduced to MI6 (British intelligence agency) and forced to carry out the rest of his uncle’s final mission.
It’s easy to make characters “overpowered,” especially in spy stories like this. No matter what happens, the main character always has some kind of gadget or secret skill that gets them out of danger in just the nick of time (this is what’s known as deus ex machina). However, that is not so with Alex Rider. Yes, he has some unique skills and MI6 does provide him with plenty of useful tools, but there are times he gets stuck in a tight space and there’s no secret weapon to get him out. It keeps him human and relatable to the readers, even though 99% of them (probably) aren’t spies themselves.
Plus, he’s got a pretty snarky sense of humor, which I greatly appreciate. I mean:
“Let me ask you a question, Alex. What do you think is the greatest evil on this planet today?”
“Is that including or not including you?” Alex asked.
– From Eagle Strike
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
I’ve written about Steelheart before, but I never said much about the main character, David Charleston. He’s a different sort of character – he isn’t super intelligent, though he is smart. He isn’t extremely clever, though he does have plenty of creative solutions for tight situations. And he isn’t an especially strong fighter-type, though he’s a great shot with a rifle. I think the reason I like him is because you can’t just put him in a box. Well, that and his ridiculous metaphors.
Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Remember what I said about antiheroes? This is that part.
A short disclaimer: Just because I like an antihero as a character, that doesn’t mean I agree with everything their morally-ambiguous selves do. I simply like the way they are written and appreciate their depth of character.
Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind and a child genius. Actually, that’s probably about all you need to know about him. But anyway, at the beginning of the series, I’ll admit he doesn’t have very many redeeming qualities. Without going into much detail, the first book consists of a plot to obtain a large amount of money. Pretty criminal, right?
However, when Artemis learns that his hostage could heal his sick mother, he gives up half the fortune in order to do so. Though it’s a small thing, it’s the first glimpse the readers get of his “good side,” so to speak. As the series continues, there’s a definite change in Artemis’ character. Though there are certainly some bumps in the road, Artemis grows into a better person. His interesting character (and probably the fact that we’re both INTJs) is what makes him a great hero in my book.
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
I’m just gonna be upfront about it and tell you that there isn’t a whole lot I can say about The False Prince without spoiling the entire book. That being said, I’ll certainly do my best to tell you why I love Sage so much without spoiling the book.
Sage is a clever, think-on-his-feet kind of guy. Though he doesn’t seem like much – he is a poor orphan after all – he’s definitely not someone you want to underestimate. He’s always planning something (though not in the same “evil mastermind” way as Artemis Fowl), even if it looks like the odds are against him. And everything he says is basically gold, so what’s not to like?
(Side note: Though of course I recommend all of the books on this list, The False Prince is one that I especially encourage you to read, specifically if you enjoy fantasy/medieval worlds.)
As with last week’s list, there are plenty of characters I could have included on this list. Honestly, it’s so hard to narrow it down to just five, but I had to have some kind of limit or this post would go on forever!
Anyways, have you read any of these books? Who are your Top 5 Literary Heroes? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments, so don’t be afraid to say something!
Until next time!