What I Look for in a Book
Uniqueness. That’s kind of all there is to it, in my opinion. What I look for in a book is uniqueness. Unique characters, unique plot, unique world… When I pick up a book, I want something about it to strike me in a way that no other piece of literature has before. Books that are fun and unexpectedly different in a way that I never imagined they might be. However, that is not enough for a blog post, so let me continue…
Let’s start with what I want in characters (other than them being unique, I mean). I read mainly young adult books, so most of the main characters I’m dealt seem to be heroines. My own book features a heroine, so I understand why. But what I feel I need from my heroines is a combination of strength and humor. Not so much strength and humor that they aren’t realistic, that they are unemotional and nothing fazes them, but having weak heroines… Well, quite frankly, they’re unheroic. Which seems to defeat the point. I love snappy, clever characters. If the main character has to have other people do everything for them, if they are afraid of just about everything, if they cry when they’re happy and sad and afraid and confused, then that’s too much for me. There’s a fine line between emotional and overemotional, innocent and vapid, amusing and unable to be taken seriously, so with characters—especially the protagonist—it’s important not to cross that line. I am immediately turned off a book with a weak and whiney protagonist.
Then the plot. Writing original plots is getting extremely hard to do, but if I start a book and the plot starts to sound too familiar, my reading pace slows down considerably. I want to be surprised, hooked, kept guessing; when I feel like the basis of the storyline is something repeated from somewhere else then there’s little to look forward to. Anything that paints the world (whether this one or another) in a different light and makes you consider new possibilities is almost instantly a page-turner. Making me look at the world in a new way is the same as creating an entirely new, original world.
And I have to say, I really love books that have a love story in them. It doesn’t have to drive the story—in fact, I don’t think it should. I think a story is better when there’s a bigger plot than a love triangle. But I love rooting for couples and seeing them overcome challenges for each other, to be together, and it gives you a better sense of the characters when you hear about them through the other’s eyes.
I love action and love and trials and creativity and sarcasm all rolled into one story. Something that makes me think. That makes me fall in love. That puts me on the edge of my seat and keeps me up all night. And in my opinion the key to that, no matter what the book is, is uniqueness.