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Topic: Love the series, dislike the main character?

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Subject: Love the series, dislike the main character?
Date Posted: 1/14/2012 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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I am reading a book right now that has me completely caught up on a six book (so far) series and I am just coming to the realization that I really don't care for the main character at all.  The author is a fine writer and the books are rather complex with several plotlines moving along and a nice cast of characters who are fully fleshed and interesting.  For me, the main character, though clearly brilliant, is also flawed in such a way that I find him to be rather unsympathetic.  I continue to read the books because they are so well-written and interesting.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Are there any series that you read where the main character is just sort of "meh" (or downright unlikeable) but everything else works?

Date Posted: 1/14/2012 12:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
Posts: 2,920
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James Grippando's chararacter, Jack Swyteck was like that for me. So much so that I abandoned the series.

Date Posted: 1/14/2012 5:00 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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I feel that way about Kate Carlisle's Bibliophile series.  I've read the first 3, and the 4th, Murder Under Cover, is on my tbr pile.  Love the setting(s)!  The periphery and lesser characters are great, or have the ability to bring juicy characters to the forefront, but the author refuses to do it.  All 3 books so far have centered around Brooklyn, and she is shallow!  Brilliant, talented and her background is screaming for her to be developed more, but the author just leaves her at this point of being so annoying that if book 4 doesn't have drastic leaps in maturity for the main character, I'll be setting it aside.  Here is my review of book 3, The Lies That Bind.



Last Edited on: 1/14/12 5:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/14/2012 10:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,136
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No, I can't read books if I don't like the main character.  The main character can have flaws (in fact, I like them best if they have flaws) but the flaws have to be ones that still let me like the character.  If I don't care what happens to the characters there's no book for me.


Date Posted: 1/16/2012 12:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/1/2011
Posts: 272
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Main characters can have flaws, and even be a little unlikable. Mallory in Carol O'Connell's series is hardly warm & fuzzy, and sometimes is actively annoying, but the series works. I'll keep reading them as long as she keeps writing them. 

One requirement I have is that main characters (and, to some extent, those around them) have to grow and change if it's a series. A good example is Marcia Muller's series with Sharon McCone. I've read them all - and seen Sharon grow from a p.i. who lived above her office to the CEO of a multi-staff investigative firm (among other life changes!).

I stopped reading both Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich because Kinsey Millhone was stuck in the 1970's (literally) and Stephanie Plum never learned anything, never changed (a shame, too, because I did like the secondary characters). I actually kept reading Evanovich because I loved Grandma Mazur - I was bored with Stephanie long before I quit that series.

Date Posted: 1/17/2012 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 901
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J.D. Robb "In Death" series.  I really don't like Eve Dallas, but love all the other characters, so I keep on listening to the books  (all the time trying to tune the main character out.

Date Posted: 1/17/2012 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,602
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I read quite a few series where I don't particularly like the main character, or find some aspect of their character annoying, but as you say, keep reading because the mysteries are great, the ambience is wonderful, the writing superb, the secondary characters great, etc. Trying to think of a couple of specific examples....of course I'm drawing a blank right now. LOL

LeeAnne--by any chance are you talking about the Simon Serrailler series? I have read the first three, and in this most recent one I read, I really wanted to slap him a few times...he is kind of a selfish prat if you ask me! But I just love the books themselves!


Last Edited on: 1/17/12 5:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/17/2012 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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Yes, Cheryl, I'm talking about Simon.  It's not that I hate him but he is so completely self-absorbed that I find him to be exceedingly annoying!  It's a good thing that Cat is there!  I am caught up with the series and I really, really enjoy the books but that Simon.  Yeesh!  Grow the fork UP!

Date Posted: 1/18/2012 12:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,602
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I agree, Susan Hill is a wonderful writer! I need to try out some of her stand-alones...I am not even sure they are mysteries, might be general fiction, but she does know how to write, for sure!


Date Posted: 1/21/2012 2:49 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,223
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I don't have to like the character. What I have to have is a character who has a personality that is realistic and true to herself/himself (most of us have a static personality. We're introverted, extroverted, rough around the edges, sophisticated, ridiculously happy, snippy, sarcastic etc ...) . If the character is supposed to be shallow, then so be it. One of my all time favorite characters is Agatha Raisin. You're not supposed to fall in love with her -- she's not that type of character. She is true to herself and she is who she is. She makes no excuses. That, to me, makes a good character.

I don't need the character to evolve -- I need the storyline to evolve. When it doesn't (such as repetitive storylines under the guise of a new murder) that is when I decide if I'm going to continue on.

One series I did stop reading was Sue Grafton waaaay back when. I read A is for Alibi when it actually first came out and kept up with them through maybe through "K" and then gave up. I read U is for Undertow just because and was pleasantly surprised!! I have V is for Vengeance on my Nook ready to read. It's taught me that maybe I should go back and reconsider some of these series that I've stopped reading. The writer, in some cases, got in a slump but then corrected what ever bugged me about it.

Diane Mott Davidson's series with Goldy the caterer is one I almost dropped after the two books before Crunch Time. I'm glad I stuck with it because Crunch Time was pretty good. Goldy drives me nuts ocassionally but that's just her personality -- if she were real, she'd drive me nuts too. lol I don't want to read about someone I always like.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 9:57 PM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2011
Posts: 209
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I stopped reading the "Agatha Raisin" series after several of her books because she was driving me up a wall .....