Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's your preference?

One thing I love about reading a variety of books is that they give me many things to think about. Both about the actual book, and not! Ever since I began The Almond Picker, I started wondering why I was liking it so much. I realised that it was because of the strong, interesting, and diverse people that were presented in the novel, and the strong family ties that resulted.

I also noticed, though, that there wasn't much action in terms of the plot. There wasn't any adventure, there wasn't any boldness! It didn't matter, because the characters and dialog were already at the forefront of the book. This is what is making me love the book so far, even with the absence of the classic, entertaining storyline.

That's not to say that I don't appreciate an addictive plot - no way! If books like that didn't exist, reading would likely become very monotonous. Plus, there's an endless selection of books that include both realistic characters and a great plot. An example that comes to mind is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. The books in that series are practically pure perfection with respect to what I've been talking about. Since we're all so unique and different as readers, I'd love to know your opinion on this topic!

Would you be able to enjoy a book without an engaging story if the characters made up for it? Is an exciting plot essential to you? What are some books you've read that include both these elements?

13 comments:

Melissa said...

I usually think there has to be a perfect balance, but I'll occasionally read a book with a great plot and boring characters (Some Girls Are). I think one of the best combinations of both is Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles :)

Jenny said...

Characters are the most important element to me. If they are strong and engaging, I can overlook a plot that leaves a little to be desired. It works the opposite way as well, if I can't connect to the characters but the story is great, I usually can't get past their flatness and enjoy the story.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Characters are so much more important to me!!

Jeanne C. said...

Good question... I'll have to think on that one! Great post!

Elle said...

If a book has a particularly exciting plot, I'd probably describe it as 'entertaining'. If the characters were engaging and three-dimensional, I wouldn't mind if the plot didn't have a lot of action - I'd be happy just living inside their minds. One book that for me had the perfect mix of BOTH was Falling by Christopher Pike. Great characters, great storyline. A great book. :D

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I must have good characters to keep me engaged. Great question! :D

Alissa said...

I can definitely enjoy a book without an engaging story, so long as the characters are truly interesting. My current example of this is The Half-life of Planets; Hank is an unbelievably great, realisitc character in the story.

Kay said...

I love strong characters! Sometimes I like a plot that takes you along for thrilling ride, but if the characters are thin and flat, I oftentimes won't return to the author. I love it when the setting is a character as well. Love to learn something special about a place and love when it is intrinsic to the narrative.

Nice thought twister, Emidy!

Nymeth said...

I care about plot, but I've noticed that I'm first and foremost a character-oriented reader. So I could enjoy a slower book with real and complex characters more easily than a well-plotted one where they were all one-dimensional. Of course, the best books are the ones that balance the two - like Patrick Ness' :D

Emidy (Une Parole) said...

Melissa - A good balance is key! I should give those books a try.

Jenny - That's so true. I can easily ignore a bad-ish plot if the characters are good, but I'm not sure about the other way around.

Carrie - They are important for sure! More than anything else, really.

Jeanne - Thanks! Haha, take your time.

Elle - That's exactly it! Oh, I should try those books. Thanks for the recommendation.

Juju - Yes! No matter how exciting the plot is, I wouldn't be able to fully enjoy the book if the characters sucked.

Alissa - I'm the same way. And I'll check that book out for sure!

Kay - It's so great when the setting feels like a character, I agree! One book where this is the case is The Book of Clouds. It takes place in Germany, and the setting is so vivid and alive.

Nymeth - Yes, Patrick Ness is amazing at that! But I'm the same way as you.

thebookwurrm said...

I think more than characters or plot, what matters the most to be is the writing. For example, The History of Love - Nicole Krauss. There's not much plot but the writing is so incredible that it subsumes any desires for a fast, page turning narrative. Well, it did have really intriguing characters so.. I guess the answer would be yes, I just might, if the writing was worth it. (I'm a new follower? Bookmarker?)

Aths said...

If the characters are really really good, then sure. Not to say I'll rate the book high, but at least I can enjoy reading. I won't throw the book at the wall in anger (figuratively, of course), but I won't embrace it either. I'll probably grimace a 101 times, I may also smile/laugh/empathize a 101 times. They are definitely not trade-offs, but to me, that could be the difference between giving up on a book and persisting to the end. Of course, a book with good characters and plot won't have either issue.

Lucia said...

I think a dull plot can be made up for by engaging characters, but I find uninteresting characters drag down even the most gripping plot. Regardless, the ending of the book is paramount in tying everything together. 'Mr Rosenblum's List' has a great balance, in my opinion.
ps. have read 'The Almond Picker,' and very much agree.