Top Ten Tuesday: Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Welcome to another post for the weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list, and then bloggers respond with their answers. Without further ado, this week's list (in no particular order)! 

Ten Books for Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven. - Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
Ah, the character driven novel. Sometimes you just want to delve deep into the psyche of someone else, am I right? I am a big fan of character driven works and will usually choose them over the more plot driven action novel types. Ten novels I'd recommend from speculative fiction are: 

My fantasy picks: 

1. Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb (my review here): Or pretty much anything else written by Hobb. She has a way with character development -- creating people with real flaws and hang ups and usually making tragic things happen to them. But it is so good that you will forgive her the heartache.
2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: Rothfuss's first published fantasy was popular for a reason -- he creates unique characters that truly drive the story.
3. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin: As long as you don't mind your favorite characters dying (seriously, no one is safe), the Song of Ice and Fire series is full of wonderfully interesting characters (and very detailed descriptions of the feasts too -- don't read while on a diet, trust me). 
4. The Gunslinger by Stephen King (my review here): King introduces two iconic figures in this book with the opening lines: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. The rest of the novel gives you the complicated character that is Roland.
5. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson: This book follows Ursula Todd, who sadly dies before she can draw her first breath. And then again, on that same night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to die in early childhood. And then again... you get the picture. Atkinson crafts a wonderful story (which should probably not be read by new parents, take my word for it) that illustrates much of what happens in Europe in the early 20th century while also creating a deep interesting character in Ursula.

And my science fiction picks:

6. The City & The City by China Meiville: If you want to learn whole new vocabularies, Meiville is your author. In this novel, you follow Inspector tyador Borlu as he investigates a murder. His investigation takes him into the neighboring city which is literally right next to him (but not). It is twisty sci-fi and a police procedural all wrapped into one. 
7. The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin: This novel introduced me to the depth of social and political discussion that sci-fi can have. It starts at Anarres, a utopia where there are no laws, no own possessions, and follows Shevek, a brilliant physicist who believes his theories could unite societies all over the universe.
8. Dawn by Octavia Butler: I finished Butler's Xenogenesis series this summer; I am hoping to get a review out on it sometime next month. Dawn, the first in the series, follows Lilith who wakes up in the custody of the Oankali, a race of aliens that has saved humanity from utter destruction, healed our planet, and are now wanting to repopulate the planet -- for a trade. Lilith is a very interesting character with some very weird choices to make.
9. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan: This novel follows Takeshi Kovacs as he investigates a murder in a society where consciousness can be now downloaded into a new body. Part ruthless killer, part man of principle, Kovacs is definitely an interesting character, but this book does have some coarse language and adult content -- so beware for that.
10. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: Will I ever stop recommending this book? Probably not. Breq has to be one of the most interesting characters developed in a sci-fi novel that I have read in a long long time. If you haven't read this one, please do yourself a favor and read it! Read it!

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