|Plot drove this novel at top speed. |
All the characters were despicable!
But I loved the book anyway...
|driving force: |
|driving force: |
Two important bookish questions to ponder:
1) Which is more important, plot or character?
2) Does the reader need to LIKE the main character/s to enjoy the story?
I'll use the last three books I've read (pictured above, all highly recommended) to consider these issues. (I realize I'm not impressing anyone here with my obscure tastes, since all three have enjoyed wide popularity--but I think they provide good examples).
Liking the main character: Do I have to?
Normally, I do have to like the main character to enjoy a movie or a book. For example, despite widespread acclaim, I absolutely hated the movie THERE WILL BE BLOOD. I can agree that Daniel Day Lewis is an amazing actor,
but the character he played was a horrible man. I wanted to punch him when he left that little boy on the train. No. Worse than that. I wanted him to blow up into a thousand burning pieces. Especially after he took away three hours of my lifespan that I will never get back. I never want to hear anything about that movie again...but my husband loved it so much he quotes it on a regular basis...so I am out of luck.
HOWEVER, I loved the book GONE GIRL, and I didn't "like" one single person in it. They all were so awful to each other, but I couldn't stop reading. It didn't seem to matter that I didn't like anyone, and I didn't know who exactly to root for. The plot grabbed me by the throat and forced me to turn page after page until the rollercoaster ride ended.
And about that ending...are you with the majority who wanted more? I expected more. I expected blood...ala Daniel Day Lewis style. But perhaps the quiet end is intentional. Isn't it true that a person's imagination is always worse than the real thing? Gillian Flynn cleverly left it up to our imagination, all the while hinting at more to come...
Just after I read GONE GIRL, I discovered the wonderful HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. Henry Lee (the main character) was patient, faithful, and honorable. I wanted to know him for real (as opposed to the characters in GONE GIRL...if I saw them in person, I'd run away screaming). I rooted for Henry from page one and cheered him on the final page. It's a lovely book. Please read it.
Another great character driven book is GIRL IN TRANSLATION, which is listed as fiction but is partly autobiographical. It's an education on immigration back in the era of American Chinatown sweatshops (before everything was made overseas in actual Chinese sweatshops, but that's another sad story). I rooted for Kimberly Chang until the ending, where (ironically because she was always so smart through out the rest of the book) I thought she acted very stupidly...and selfishly. But don't let that stop you. It's still a great book.
To answer the question is plot or character more important--my answer is: it depends.
It depends on the book and it depends on the reader.
Some people only like to read mysteries--so they must enjoy plot over character.
Others enjoy romance novels--so they must prefer character over plot.
I'm just happy I can enjoy both kinds of books--plot or character driven.
But not if the characters are mean to kids, then they can go to...
(sorry Daniel Day Lewis, no hard feelings, okay?)
Here he is in the background, enjoying a good book, in one of my all-time favorite movies ROOM WITH A VIEW (based on the novel by E.M. Forster, which is the best of both worlds--both character and plot driven).