A character list by Jess Rae
Choosing literary characters that have impacted me is like trying to choose among friends, because that’s what they are to a lonely bookworm: friends. Some are powerful, some are quiet, and some are ruthless, but they’re all important and have all impacted me in some way.
Rose Hathaway, Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
I could not start this list without mentioning the bad-ass dhampir (half human-half vampire) who shaped my very outlook on life, love, and friendship. From childhood Rose knows her responsibility; to become the guardian of Princess Lissa and protect her from the strigoi (“bad” vampires) while navigating the complex path of growing up and falling in love. Rose is content with her role to be responsible for Lissa, to the point where she “takes the bad thoughts away” from Lissa, resulting in her own mental turmoil. She puts her life and her mental well-being on the line again and again for Lissa, it’s not until the end of the series that she learns to make decisions for herself while still being there for her friend. Like Rose, I’ve tried to put others first, sometimes to a fault, and now I’m also learning to make choices for myself.
Quote: “Always… always I’ve done something to fight for myself… for others. No matter what.”
Aelin Galathynius, Throne Of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
A lover of books, a piano player, and someone who shoulders all the burdens so that she won’t lose anyone; I relate. Like Rose, Aelin is a badass and puts everyone and everything before herself, plus the girl knows how to shop. What I particularly appreciate about Aelin’s character is that she isn’t shy about her abilities, she fully knows how talented and bad-ass she is, and it’s refreshing to have a female character who doesn’t need to be told she’s smart or strong or beautiful; she is quite aware of that fact. Maas paints Aelin as a beautiful mix of arrogance and compassion; it’s a fine line she walks on but as the reader I love her more for her flaws.
Quote: “No. I can survive well enough on my own – if given the proper reading material.”
Evangeline Samos, Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard
Starting out as a villain, Evangeline is ruthless and vicious in claiming her place as a future Queen, but towards the end of the series we gain an insight into what makes her so villainous. Growing up, being weighed down by expectation and family responsibility carved her into a steely weapon for her family to use. It’s later on that we learn of her deep, secret love for her girlfriend and her brother that fuels her seemingly “cold” actions. Being the eldest child tends to create expectations, whether real or imagined, and there’s a certain weight shouldered in ensuring the journey for younger siblings is easier. In this way I relate to Evangeline, in the way that she feels trapped by her expectation to marry Prince Calore.
Quote: “If I’m lucky it will explode. Blow apart any threat of marriage. Destroy the cage they want to put me back in.”
Dante Quintana, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
With a deep fascination for poetry, art, and speaking his mind, I’d say I have a lot in common with Dante. His tenacity for life and exploring why things are the way they are speaks to my need to always be learning. While I can’t relate to Dante’s gender, race, sexuality, or innate hatred for wearing shoes, I can relate to his need to speak his mind and vocalize his feelings for people. Dante reminds me a lot of my high school hopefulness and intensity
Quote: “Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”
Fiver, Watership Down by Richard Adams
The anxiety-ridden rabbit is the character that is the catalyst for a group of rabbits finding a new and safe place to live; thankfully they listen to Fiver, unlike the rest of their warren. I relate so much to Fiver’s constant anxiety and over-thinking tendencies. Despite his anxieties, Fiver is not afraid to tell people when he thinks something is a bad idea, and while that might be quite brash on some people, on this little tiny rabbit it’s endearing. I also have to put Fiver on this list purely because of my obsession with rabbits and the fact that I’m a rabbit-mum. I’m surprised I’ve never named any of my rabbits after any Watership Down characters; I should rectify that someday.
Quote: “There’s terrible evil in the world.”