This actually took me a while to come up with because half the time I can never really tell whether a book is largely character-driven or action/plot-driven. Most times a book is a bit of both, and finding that balance is always something I admire. That said, I finally did come up with a top ten, so here it is.
Top Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels
Graceling by Kristin Cashore – Hands down the first book that came to mind. Katsa is one of the most badass females in YA high fantasy to date, and her story needs reading. For those who haven’t entered Kristin Cashore’s world yet, I suggest this book to wet the appetite. Then head on over and read Fire, because uh, that one was great and probably my favorite of the two. But yes to Graceling.
Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce – Okay, cheating. Technically you should read the entire Protector of the Small Series just so you can get to Lady Knight. But it’s totally worth it. Kel is awesome, and the choices she makes are not easy ones. But they do lead to actions of badassery, and I respect that.
Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts – There’s something to be said about the stress a household undergoes to retain honor and keep the family line alive. Lady Mara has it cut out for her, considering both her brother and father are killed off, and she, as a woman, is deemed weak in the eyes of the Kelewan Warlord empire. But boy oh boy, when Lady Mara plays the Game, she frelling plays it to win.
The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks – I really need to finish this series, but the first book was awesome enough even if that is all you read of Weeks’ stuff. I mean, I wouldn’t just stop there. I’d like to know what happens to a number of the characters who are still alive, after all. Just…well, kind of like Game of Thrones, don’t get too attached to characters.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman – Probably one of my favorite dystopias ever. It’s also super-creepy and I thought the points of view of each character brought so much depth and story within the book itself. Also, don’t get too attached. Shit goes down over here, and likely to a point that might make you cry. I know I did.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Beautifully written, and really, really sad. Don’t pick this book up if there’s a chance that you might cry, because you probably will be doing so for every few chapters. Okay, exaggeration, but it felt that way.
A Storm of Swords by G.R.R. Martin – Yeah, okay, this is the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but it also happens to be my favorite so far, even though a few characters I’d been rooting for die horrid, HORRID deaths here. That’s okay. It was practically because they were being stupid, but that’s what character-driven choices do for you.
Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Search by Gene Luen Yang – Yeah, k, I am throwing something Avatar-related here, because let’s face it. I’m a pretty big fan, and the comics extension is just giving my inner fangirl some satiating peace. Plus, seeing the characters continue their journey and making good/bad choices that impact the future is just major plus-points.
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett – The beginnings of Moist von Lipwig’s adventures in Ankh-Morpork is always going to stick with me, because the character is just so damn devious–in a good way. While forced into his situation, Lipwig does take the mantle of postman and makes it dance to his tune. Somewhat. Good stuff, that.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – Sophie as an old woman became one of the most interesting characters to ever undergo an adventure in a fantasy novel. And this book just deserves love for bringing Sophie to life. And yeah, Howl is pretty awesome himself, taking his destiny unto himself (he’s actually much cooler in the book than in the same-titled Miyazaki movie). Oh, I do recommend watching Miyazaki’s film right after (if you haven’t already). That was gorgeous, too.
9 thoughts on “TTT: Character Driven Novels”
MOIST!!! It was you loving Moist von Lipwig that got me reading Going Postal and getting back into Discworld. I think that many of the best books are a combination of character and action/plot driven. Whet the appetite or wet the whistle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY15R3yHBEI
Is this The Big Sleep?! It’s probably the only one of the Bogart/Bacall movies I’ve actually watched XD
To Have and Have Not — the first movie they ever made together. I’ve not seen it either, but I am aware of that line! 🙂
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Moist is awesome! (That sentence does not sound right.) He’s so put-upon and stressed, but he kind of deserves it, and he enjoys showing off so much, you can’t feel too sorry for him.
I wish I hadn’t started the Unwind series, because the whole concept haunts me. But I must know how it ends!
I hadn’t even known there were more books after Unwind until a few months ago. Will definitely have to revisit the series, though I probably couldn’t fully reread the first book. It’d probably give me nightmares.
Going Postal is the first book I read by Terry Pratchett and it got me hooked. I think if I had started out with the Colour of Magic I might’ve quickly lost interest. xD Moist was so awesome though.
I read the Discworld series out of order, because my first Pratchett was The Truth (which definitely got me into the story, because Ankh-Morpork journalism was just epic for me). I don’t think I could read Colour of Magic, but I was mostly put off by the mini-series that was based on the book.
Avatar! That makes my heart happy:0). From the books I know I think you did a great job picking out character driven books. The Song of Ice and Fire made my list as well and I didn’t put Graceling but think it definitely fits. I have only seen the movie of Howl’s Moving Castle and I LOVED it – in fact bought it – I really enjoyed Howl and Sophie. That makes me super excited that the book does an even better job with those characters!
Yes! Normally I love Miyazaki’s stuff, so I saw Howl’s Moving Castle first as a movie and only picked up the book in passing. Both are definitely great as standalones, but I’d certainly recommend the book for extra character development (and I’m pretty sure there’s even a follow-up story written, too!).
And yes, Avatar is much ❤ (Zuko is practically a testament to a character driving a story, lool)