There’s a book I love. The first time I read it there were parts where I was so angry with the MC I could only read for 15 minutes before I would slam the book down in a huff. But, half an hour later there I was, picking it up again anxious to see what would happen next. I love that book, now. I think one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is because it creates such a strong emotional response in my. It isn’t always a happy, fluffy feeling but it’s real and it’s strong, and it pulls me in. I lived in that world, I didn’t like her choices but I lived them.
I think that’s the best kind of MC, one that creates a range of strong emotions in us as they struggle and grow. But I have to ask myself, why do I like the book when I disliked so much of the character? How far can an author go before they have an unsympathetic character that no one will read?
There’s a variety of reasons it worked in this book. First, motivation. For all the choices she made we understood exactly why she made them. We knew what she was thinking, why she thought it would work and it was all true to her character. If the author was visible in the book, leading the character from bad choice to bad choice, for the sake of plot alone, with no motivation I can guarantee I would not have finished the book.
Second, sympathy. Though I was angry at her, I knew her past, I knew her frailties and weaknesses and how she was trying to hide those weaknesses. So in some ways I felt sorry for her. She was a sympathetic character. I also knew that if I was in her situation I would most likely make some bad choices too. Though maybe not the ones she made.
Third, growth. Through the book we could see her grow and change. She realized she made mistakes, she tried to fix them the best she could and she truly learned to care about others. In the end she was someone I could emulate and admire. Who doesn’t want to see someone triumph over difficulties?
For all the roller coaster ride this MC puts me on she’s one of my favorite characters. She evokes such a strong response in me that I can’t help but get emotionally involved, and after all, isn’t that what a book is supposed to do? One things for sure, the MC can make or break the book.
What do you think of MCs that drive you nuts? Would you keep reading? Who is the MC that creates the strongest emotional response in you?