I’ve seen some people say that “characters don’t need to be likeable”, and while I totally respect anyone who feels that way, it’s just not for me.
- I need to like the person I’m reading about.
- I need to be able to respect them or at least understand and sympathize with them.
- I need someone to root for.
If those things are missing, then I won’t be able to enjoy the book.
The character doesn’t have to be perfect, of course. They don’t even have to be nice (The Young Elites handles this wonderfully). But I need to be able to care about them or click with them in some way. If I have nothing but hatred or cold indifference for a character, how can I like the book?
This was a problem for me in The Girl on the Train
I hated EVERY character. Or if I didn’t hate them, then I at least found them annoying or didn’t particularly like them.
This is one of the main things that killed my overall enjoyment for the book. Because I couldn’t root for anyone, I became indifferent about the plot and solving the mystery. It was so hard for me to care about any of it if I wasn’t invested in any of the characters.
The main character, in particular, was hard to like. At first I understood why she was so unstable and I sympathized with her. But then she got worse, kept repeating the same mistakes over and over, and she honestly just seemed like the most annoying drunk ever. She lost my patience and my sympathy.
I’m fine with hating a character, but I need to love hating them
This one is tricky. Sometimes there are bad characters in a book—villains and whatnot—but I need to love hating them.
There’s a fine line between a character who’s just so annoying that you can’t stand reading them, and a character who you love reading because you actually enjoy the process of hating them. Does that even make sense? LOL
Back to The Girl on the Train, all the characters sadly fell into the former category for me. They just got annoying. I couldn’t stand them. It was exhausting to watch them make the same mistakes over and over with seemingly no progress. I got bored of how annoying they were.