A Character List by Jess Gately
Have you ever read a book and when the character died you cried, or when something good happened to them you smiled, and when they didn’t get the ending you thought they deserved you were angry? I love a character-driven novel, and I love to fall in love with characters. Characters that we always remember and that we love to think back on aren’t hard to find. Something about them sticks with us, like a friend you admire despite their faults, or a person you once met who left a mark on your heart so that just the memory of them makes you smile.
Which characters left that mark on me? Well…
- Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Obviously. This list would never be complete without Hermione Granger. Back before I consciously thought about female characters as role models I always felt Hermione was one. She was studious, driven, loyal, determined, and passionate about equal rights. It didn’t matter how often the other kids picked on her, calling her a teacher’s pet or obnoxious or annoying; she was true to herself. Hermione to this day remains such a strong role model for me and I absolutely adore her.
Embodying quote: ‘I’m hoping to do some good in the world!’ (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
- Matilda, Matilda by Roald Dahl
When I was a kid I used to watch the Matilda movie on repeat and I’d read the book over and over. Again, another young girl who sticks to her guns, is clever and intelligent and kind. Are you catching a theme here? Matilda is bullied by her family and bullied by the headmistress of her school, yet no matter how cruel people are to her she remains hopeful of a better future. She reads extensively and is wonderfully self-dependant. And as if she couldn’t get any better, she was always willing to help her friends and to stand up for what was right. Here was a girl who loved books as much (god forbid maybe even more???) than I did! It’s not hard to see why she remains one of my favourite characters even now in my adulthood.
Embodying quote: ‘Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.’
- Hawthorne Swift, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
In the first instalment of this new series, released in 2017 by Australian author Jessica Townsend, Morrigan Crow has a lot to worry about and has never had a real friend. Enter the cheeky and adventurous Hawthorne Swift. Hawthorne is rebellious and odd but also loyal and fun. He takes friendship seriously but not much else and he views the world in ways that remind you that it’s the simple things in life that matter the most. He’s quirky and I adore quirky. And you should really go and read this book!
Embodying quote: ‘“I’d like to introduce my own candidate, Hawthorne, but he disappeared soon’s we arrived. Probably setting something on fire.” Nan rolled her eyes, but she looked pleased. “It’s not his official knack, trouble-making, but it’s a close second.”’
- Marvin the Paranoid Android, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I love this series endlessly and with so many kooky characters I’m hard-pressed to pick a favourite, but there is just something about Marvin that I can’t go past. Marvin is depressed and almost everyone hates talking to him because he’s so pessimistic. There’s a lot to be drawn here about how a robot gets depressed and what that says about what may cause depression, and his intelligence is never really given a chance to shine, but Marvin also provides so many great one-liners that it’s hard not to love him.
Embodying quote: “Life? Don’t talk to me about life!”
- Maya the Unknown, The Witches of Eileanan by Kate Forsyth
The characters I love aren’t always good and in fact I find myself irresistibly drawn to villains. Kate Forsyth’s character arc for Maya is fantastic. Apart from the fact that she’s badass, the great thing about Maya is that you feel sorry for her. You’re built up to hate her and by the end you come to understand her and her actions even if you don’t agree with them. She is one of those wonderful examples of how the villain is not always just pure evil. I can’t say too much without giving away the first few books in the series, so you’ll just have to go and read the series and find out for yourself.