Okay, enough business. Today I wanted to talk about books whose main characters are not likable people, yet the story is so engrossing you can’t put it down. As writers, we’re taught in our craft classes to give our characters “rooting power,” meaning we instill in them reason for the reader to root for them to win. So many times I hear people say they didn’t like a book because they just didn’t like any of those characters. We’re supposed to make our characters likable. But despite everything we’re taught, there are some characters we love to hate, they fascinate us, we can’t tear our eyes away from the page. I’m sure many of you have read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This book is a masterpiece, and Ms. Flynn is a masterful writer. I had read Dark Places before, but I found Gone Girl to be the better of the two. I’ve now got Sharp Objects, which I think is actually her first book, in my library queue. Gosh, I love the library, don’t you!
But I want to talk about another book I just finished which I found utterly fascinating despite the fact that I didn’t like or empathize with any of the characters. It is Megan Abbot’s Dare Me. I like many of the young adult books out there, but this one is very different. Actually, I’m not even sure if it is in the young adult genre even though it’s about a high school cheerleading squad and their new coach. These girls are straight out of the movie Mean Girls. They are the girls you hated in high school. I suppose I was supposed to feel some empathy for the narrator but even she had her wicked side. This book abounds with secrets. It’s sort of sick how they all prey on one another, even the coach. Yes, there are victims and there are the mean girls, but I really didn’t have sympathy for any of them, yet I was compelled to read on. The story was fascinating, and part of that was the way Ms. Abbot had the story’s narrator feed you pieces of information at just the right time, little shockers that keep you plowing through. I will say this, the reviews on Amazon are divided. Some people absolutely hated the book, others loved it the way I did. Obviously some people just can’t abide hatable (hah, I made of a word!). But for me, I highly recommend Dare Me if you love a great story with characters you love to hate.
To hear about another book with characters I loved to hate, drop by 69 Shades of Smut Blog tomorrow, 8/6. Hope to see you there!