Thursday, May 7, 2015

Reading is Emotional--Or At Least, It Should Be--Why Unlikable Characters Ruin a Book.

I am wholeheartedly an emotional reader. I read according to my mood. I'm not saying I'm moody--I just like to read according to how I feel. I'm a scorpio. I have a tough exterior but I'm emotional. I secretly cry more than I care to admit. I know that's irrelevant but there's a point.


I read according to my mood, unless it's for reviewing purposes. When I'm reviewing it's feelings aside because there's no way for me determine if the book will align with my mood. But, when it's just me and my never ending TBR giving each other the stare down, I'm down to read according to how I'm feeling--this mean's like contemporary, sci-fi etc.

I'm always in the mood for lurvee. It's the truth, no matter what. If it's fantasy, erotica, thriller, sci-fi, whatever--if it has love I'm all about it. I'm a sucker for romance, even one of my writing professors told me. I've been stamped. I am a sucker for love.

Even though I'm always in the mood for love--I also get in the mood for other things, thrillers, aliens, moody billionaires, vampires, whatever. I look at my stack of books, grab one and go I'm in the mood to read about A, B, or C, so I do. That's just the way it goes.

This leads me to my point, I need to like the characters. I HAVE TO LIKE THEM IN SOME CAPACITY. It is absolutely essential to my reading. I have to at least like one character. That doesn't mean if I don't like the character, I won't enjoy the book. 

I know that sounds totally contradictory but, let me explain.

If I like a character, I am into the book. I am looking forward to what they're going to do, and who they are going to do it with. It just makes for a far more enjoyable book experience. I root for the character, I'm wholly invested. I'm in like, which is an emotion, reading is emotional. See?

BUT, if the character is unlikeable, annoying, pushy, needy, argumentative, holding back the development of the story with their shenanigans, it makes reading so difficult. I literally want to hurl my book, kindle, tablet, whatever against a wall and watch it flutter, or crash to the ground.

I'm not going to like everyone, and that includes characters, but unlikeable characters ruin a book. At least in my opinion they do. Because when I don't like a character, many things happen. I stop caring, I lose investment, and I'm all around unbothered, and this is never good.

No emotional connection=no feelings=unhappy reader=meh opinion of book.

Reading involves emotions, it invokes emotions, yes boredom is an emotion but nobody raves about that in a review. You can either be happy, sad amused, angry whatever but when a book makes me all around annoyed or angry, I don't care about the book, and I want to care. I really do.

That doesn't include villains. Yes, villains are villainous but there is something about them we like.
Okay, let me speak for myself. There is something about a person who is downright evil, and has no qualms about being evil, that I like. It's like they know they're ruining someone's life and they just don't care. I appreciate that they are who they are, and have no apologies for it. But most villains have some likable trait, they almost always show some form of human weakness. That also makes them likable.

I guess what I'm getting at is, if I don't like a character, I won't enjoy the book. I might enjoy it a little but it will more likely than not, make reading the book not as fun.


Now that I've given my fingers a thorough work out, what do you guys think? Do unlikable characters ruin a book for you, does it make it hard to read? Do you trudge through? How do you deal? Am I alone, in my crazy, crazy world? I want to hear your thoughts!





22 comments:

  1. I agree. I'm very much a mood reader, too. If I don't like the main character at all, I can't get invested in the story and it's just not enjoyable. Unlikable characters are pretty much a deal breaker for me.

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  2. I'm a mood reader myself, even though I'm a Virgo. If I hate the main character or don't like them even a LITTLE, my reading experience isn't fun. I mean, side characters might make it a little fun and help the book make it past my DNF radar, but overall... the book would probably slide away with a 2 or a 3. Maybe a 3.5 at best.

    ~Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts

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  3. Interesting. See I have no problem with unlikable characters, I'm usually the kind of person whose favorite character is the one that most people hate.

    And for me I don't have to like the characters to like a book. I need a really engaging plot development. I realize this because often I will mention how much I liked the characters in a review where I didn't particularly enjoy the book. Like I liked the characters in The Girl at Midnight but I didn't connect with the plot so I gave it 3 stars.

    I think most people are more character-driven fans but I'm the opposite. Great discussion!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

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    1. I think it depends for me but I'm mostly character driven. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  4. OK this was a great post. I don't know if I like emotional books or not. It's really a question on how strong the feels are. Like if it's a great book and series I've been following but something happens that breaks my heart... yeah I don't like those kinds of feelings because then I linger on it for such a long time. I also like the characters that other people tend to hate but, of course, I go for the most popular OTPs. Like sometimes I even enjoy when another boy is trying to break my OTP. Ya know what I mean?

    Alex @ The Book's Buzz

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    1. I totally know what you mean! I'm actually okay with love triangles depending on the characters. Thanks for sharing, Alex!

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  5. We had this talk on voxer where I told you about my reading experience with Nocte by Courtney Cole, and how the fact that I despised the main character, caused me to truly hate the book. I feel as though the story had so much potential, but with the MC being too pushy, needy, desperate, all the things I dislike about a female character, it made me want to DNF the book. I pushed through, but I definitely won't be picking up the sequel. I just think it's no way to connect with a story in the manner you want to when you don't like the characters. Besides the plot, the characters are the butter to the bread, the meat to the potatoes, you wouldn't eat plain bread and nothing but potatoes by choice right? lol.

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  6. Reading unlikeable characters totally ruins the book for me, I agree. However, my definition of unlikeable characters doesn't always match what others think; I'm fine with the most problematic MCs...as long as somehow i can connect with them. If I cannot, that makes them unlikeable in my eyes. Also, if there is character development that transforms them from an unlikeable character to a much better one, I am fine with that too. Interesting post! :)

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  7. I feel the same way. In order for me to love a book, I have to get emotionally invested in the characters. If not, no matter how interesting the plot, how phenomenal the world-building, I will like it ok enough, but not love it. I want to care about the character and what happens to them. And I'm a big mood reader, too. Which is probably why I have a backlog of ARCs I should be reading, but I'm just not reading them. Oh well! ~Pam

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    1. I have the same problem, so I'm right with you. Thanks for chiming in!

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  8. This is a really great topic, and I totally agree that the characters have to cause me to have some type of emotional attachment, or I'll quickly lose interest in the book. Unfortunately, it's the same way with movie or television characters, as well. Because my TBR pile is massive and I continue to add to it - lol, my reading is based on mood and/or genre. So I may read thrillers for a month, then switch to all romance the following month. Either way, a book is always in my hand. Fun Friday to you! Hugs...Ro

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    1. I am totally the same way. I'll be all into contemporary for a while and then switch to another genre! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I loooove villains! I don't know what I find so fascinating about them. Maybe I'm strange like that :)

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  10. It depends on how the author handles the unlikeable character. If the character is meant to have unlikeable qualities, then I’m totally fine with it. If the author is trying really hard to get me to like a character that I hate, then I get annoyed. This happened to me with Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I couldn’t stand Hannah. I think she’s a horrible person, but it felt like the author was trying to force me to feel bad for her. It just didn’t work.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I totally understand, and I sort of feel the same way! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  11. I agree. It's worse when it's the MC that I don't like. I recently read Spelled by Betsy Schow and the MC was this spoiled, arrogant, self-centered brat that made me dislike the story more than I should have. It was still a cute read, but the character brought it down.

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  12. I totally agree! I once read the Everwild series by Kayla Jo and the first book was so good mostly because the MC was so strong and capable. Then, in the next two books, she totally blew and started acting very childishly and it was driving me insane! The strong, developed character from the first book just disappeared! Great post!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

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