Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Best of 2010: The Jerks and The Best Writing
Today's featured categories are Jerk characters and writing. After characters, writing is the next biggest thing for me that makes or breaks a book. There are certain styles that work for me, and some that don't. It's personal preference of course, but since books are, well, written, I think giving some attention to this single aspect is just downright important.
And on the note of jerks. They are inevitable, in life and in writing. But what I like about it in fiction is how differently so many people can view the same character. My definition for jerks is very loose here, and really are just the ones that made me more mad than happy, or the ones that I seriously, seriously, SERIOUSLY disliked. Basically, if my lasting memory was that they were a buttface, they were a candidate for this list.
It was with that I bring you today's Best of 2010 lists:
1. Delaney (Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala): I'm not sure I've disliked a character (apart from some parents) as much as Delaney. Yes, there is a sympathetic element and we do find out why she acts like she does but man... some of the things she does in this book are just. Wow.
2. Will (Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare): Here's the thing with Will. In this book, he's a closed off, arrogant jerk. Can he be redeemed? Most likely. But right now, his emotional level is about on par with a slug's, and he most definitely knows how to hurt a girl right where it hurts. Yes, we see hints of what's behind the several feet thick walls that encase him, but as it stands with this book, Will's a jerk, no matter how hot he might be. And that, I think, is just one more testament to Cassandra's writing because I have no doubt I'll be saying something else later.
3. Carter (The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney): Ignoring the obvious fact that he's the date rapist in this book, what peeves me about Carter is that from the start, he doesn't get what's so wrong about it and he has the gall to try to make Alex at fault. Yes, its realistic and yes, it helps drive the story but man. I mostly just wanted to kick him in the balls and call it a day.
4. Christian (The Naughty List by Suzanne Young): He's cunning. And he's cute. And maybe he's a little charming. But that's just the way things go to get what he wants. What? He wants to go after a girl who's clearly taken? Well, why not! Yeah. Christian, you seriously ticked me off more than once, even if I sometimes wanted to hug you too. But then you had to go and do THAT, and it was all over. You're a punkass jerk.
5. Archer (Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins): Archer is the on again, off again kind of jerk that makes a girl think one thing then totally turns around and negates it. Okay so maybe he's tortured and conflicted. Maybe. And yes, this is another case where I will probably love him to death in book two. But hotness factor aside, at the close of Hex Hall, he's on my jerk list. Bring it on, Demonglass.
1. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting: Holy hell can Kimberly Derting write. From flowing description to downright creepy killer perspective to some seriously hot and steamy make out scenes, she covers the range of it and it comes off completely effortlessly. Whether you liked this story or not, Kimberly's writing is something to completely appreciate.
2. You by Charles Benoit: This one's written in second person, and yeah, yeah, that's not done blah blah. But Charles did it, and he did it well. The perspective alone makes it stand out, but also just HOW he did it. I really felt like I was Kyle, the main character, while still knowing that it was Kyle's story. He blended the two sides so perfectly, and paced everything so well even within the narration.
3. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: It always amazes me these books are coauthored. The writing these two ladies make together is gorgeous and creates such great mental pictures. Add in how Southern they make everything, and how realistic that aspect is, and they have a spot in this Texan's heart.
4. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater: I'm not the first and I won't be the last to stay it, but Maggie's writing is lyrical. Flowing and embracing, it never ceases to strike me at how talented she is. Her use of contrasting images within a sentence are one of my favorite things about the writing, as is the small nuances that define the different perspectives she uses while still staying true to her style.
5. Freefall by Mindi Scott: No book has given me male POV envy quite like Mindi's. After reading this one, I looked at my own manuscripts and questioned how good I was at the male voice, despite what my beta readers have told me. But with this one.... Seth's logic is so... logical. His mannerisms so... male. Yet even with that, it isn't stereotypical and it isn't trying too hard. It is realistic and raw and makes Seth so vivid. The narration is very much Seth, while still being something female readers can enjoy and appreciate.
6. Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe: Stunning. That's about all I've ever been able to say about the writing in this one. There is such a strong emotional element infused in this one, lingering with hope to produce something fantastic. The setting is strong, the descriptions are bold, and overall, Heidi's writing just pulled me right into this one.
7. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers: Courtney says so much with so little. At around 225 pages, this one is a pretty fast read but oh man, the story within those 225 and a large part of that is the writing. It is tense and emotional with a little humor mixed in at just the right amount of time, and add in the hints of danger and wow.
8. The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff: Three voices, three story lines, one smooth read. I picked this one up and couldn't put it down, and a large part of that was the writing. I like emotional books, but a huge element of that emotion is in the writing and man does Steve deliver. From seemingly endless feelings of loss and confusion to friendship and want, everything a teenager feels at any given moment is in this book.
9. Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber: The time period of this one is brought to life in the writing, which is not always easy to do. Add in the emotions that crop up, and the coming of age angle that is so stunning even for today's time while still being true to the setting, and it's clear Barbara knows how to write.
10. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White: Evie has one of the single most distinct voices out there for me. From page one, Kiersten makes her stand out. While Kiersten's natural sense of humor is clear in the book, the rest of it is all Evie. From her love of lockers to her upbeat outlook to her wit and quips, there is a little something for everyone in Evie and the entire time I read this book, just how striking and distinct the voice was kept coming to mind.
Posted by Kari Olson at 12:45 PM