Here is a book tag from Alexa Loves Books that I decided to take a stab at. I’m a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, which consists of four full-length novels (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter); a novella (Fairest); and a few short stories (Stars Above). I normally read this series every summer, so I definitely wanted to tackle this one! 🙂 (Though I decided to add an extra character, making this a baker’s dozen instead.)
Cinder – the Cyborg: Name a book that’s often misunderstood or under-appreciated.
My Pick: Matchstick Men by Eric Garcia
Honestly, I think all of Garcia’s works are under-appreciated, especially Repo Men and this novel. In Matchstick Men, we’re introduced to Roy, an OCD con artist who is trying to come to grips with discovering he’s a father. This is a great, quirky novel with a morally conflicted protagonist who, oddly enough, you can’t help but cheer for.
Kai – the Prince: Name a book about royals or royalty.
My Pick: Firebird by Kathy Tyers
Lady Firebird Angelo is the lead protagonist in this sci-fi trilogy and she’s a good conflicted character. Thanks to her placement by birth in the royal family, the best she can hope for in life is to commit honorable suicide as she’s essentially expendable. Hoping to make her short life count for something, Lady Firebird leads an attack on a neighboring planet but ends up being captured by the enemy. Only in this case, the “enemy” isn’t who it appears to be. The character dynamics in this novel are great and, though it’s been many years since I’ve read it, I really do need to pick it back up.
Adri – the Evil Stepmother: Name a book with a horrible/cringe-worthy parent.
My Pick: Matilda by Roald Dahl
I can’t think of any more despicable fictional parents than Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. Poor Matilda has to contend with their ignorance, callousness, and rudeness on a daily basis and it really makes you feel for her. Between the two parents, my vote for the more cringe-worthy would have to be Mr. Wormwood, a dishonest used car salesman who relentlessly bullies and unfairly criticizes his own daughter. Granted, it’s done with a touch of humor but Dahl is careful not to make too much light of Mr. Wormworm’s mean-heartedness. (You can read my review of Matilda here.)
Iko – the Spunky Sidekick: Name a book with your favorite happy-go-lucky character.
My Pick: Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout
I would lump together the Nero Wolfe mysteries here as Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s assistant, is a shining star in all of the stories. As much as I adore Wolfe for his quirky habits and brilliant intellect, Archie steals the show as a wise-cracking, flirtatious legman who isn’t afraid to punch a gent in the jaw or dance with a lady on the “right” side of 30. His wit often gets on Wolfe’s nerves, but Wolfe knows he would be in a pickle if he didn’t have Archie to run his errands and investigate clues. Over My Dead Body is one of my favorite Nero Wolfe novels because it gives a glimpse into Wolfe’s personal life, and Archie is in top form as he investigates a murder involving two lovely Yugoslavian lasses – how can he pass that up? 😀
Scarlet – the Rescuer: Name a book with a character on a mission.
My Pick: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Out of all of the characters in this novel who are on various missions, it’s Frodo Baggins, the humble Hobbit, who earns the bulk of my affections. Frodo puts on no airs as he feels he’s not the right person made for a quest of this size; yet in the end, he knows he’s the only one who can see it through to destroy the One Ring. With his friend, Sam Gamgee, by his side, along with other companions, Frodo braves the treacherous reaches of Middle Earth to see his mission through, even if it means sacrificing everything. (You can read my review of The Lord of the Rings here.)
Wolf – the Fighter: Name a book with a brutal fight (with either words or fists).
My Pick: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
All three books of The Hunger Games trilogy involve combat to some degree, but I selected the final novel as it’s an actual war book. Katniss Everdeen and Co. have taken the fight to the Capitol but the road is neither easy nor bloodless. Katniss witnesses first-hand what lengths the corrupted government will do to squelch the rebellion and she is their number one target. Not to mention that even within the resistance movement, Katniss is still treated as a pawn. While this isn’t my favorite book in the trilogy, it still has some great moments and treats us to a more cerebral side of Katniss as she ponders her place in the rebellion, which chooses no favorites. Not to mention it has some gut-wrenching combat scenes and heartbreaking deaths. (You can read my review of Mockingjay here.)
Levana – the Villain: Name a book with the absolute worst villain.
My Pick: The Walking Dead: Something to Fear (Volume 17) by Robert Kirkman
Technically this volume combines several individual issues of The Walking Dead, but seeing as it is a graphic novel, I’m counting it as a book. After hearing all of the chatter about how Negan is such a big, bad baddie in the Walking Dead universe, I knew I had to check it out for myself. Rest assured – the rumors are true. Negan has that perfect balance of disarming friendliness and charm alongside a penchant for bloody violence. And nothing more perfectly highlights those traits than this installment where he makes his grand entrance. Witnessing how Negan mixes humor with heartless cruelty is fascinating and sets him apart as a truly bad baddie indeed.
Thorne – the Rascal: Name a book with the biggest schmoozer.
My Pick: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
I immediately thought of Gilderoy Lockhart when I saw this because if he isn’t a schmoozer, I don’t know who is! He’s so utterly ridiculous that you (along with the novel’s characters) don’t know whether to hate him for his pretentiousness or laugh at him for being so over-the-top. I tend to do both and I love him for that. Lockhart uses his shining smile and eye-roll-worthy wit to get himself out of most jams which usually end up catching up with him. He is undoubtedly a blowhard and a fraud, but he’s just so doggone fun!
Cress – the Hacker: Name a book about either technology or that is sci-fi.
My Pick: Way Station by Clifford D. Simak
This is one of my favorite books as it’s a great down-home sci-fi novel. Plotwise, Enoch Wallace, a Civil War veteran, manages to stay alive for decades as he becomes the caretaker of an alien way station set up on Earth as a means by which interstellar beings can travel between planets. While Enoch has encountered some fascinating beings, one of whom becomes a friend, he still struggles with loneliness as he limits his Human contact to protect his secret. Naturally the ever-watchful government deduces Enoch’s age and sends someone to investigate. What it results in is tipping Earth on the brink of war and only Enoch can stop it. I love everything about this novel: from its premise, to its technology, to its depiction of alien races, to its characters. While the more cynical among us might dismiss this story as overly-simplistic or too optimistic, I enjoy it for those very qualities. (You can read my review of Way Station here.)
Erland – the Doctor: Name a book with an illness or revolving around a medical condition.
My Pick: The Living and the Dead by Boileau-Narcejac
While this novel’s title might not sound too familiar, its film adaptation probably is as this became the basis for Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 cinematic masterpiece (and one of my favorite films), Vertigo, which starred Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. While I like the film better than the book (a rare exception for me), the book is still interesting. The novel, originally written in French, is a work of 1950s noir crime fiction where the lead character, a former detective, suffers from vertigo. However, a friend ends up hiring him to trail his wife as she often enters trances and behaves as if she’s lived a past life. Overall, this novel takes an interesting look at mental illness, psychological distress, and how such persons define reality and themselves at a time when certain disorders were not yet fully understood.
Winter – the Unsound Mind: Name a book with the craziest character you’ve ever read.
My Pick: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Who isn’t a tad bonkers in this sci-fi comedy classic? Out of all of the characters here, I’m going with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the president of the universe. Zaphod is just certifiably nuts! Not only does he literally possess two heads but he also harbors two distinct personalities as well as a penchant for crazy antics (such as kidnapping himself and stealing the starship, the Heart of Gold). While this novel is zany good fun, Zaphod brings most of the chuckles thanks to his maniacal, comical personality.
Jacin – the Solider: Name a book with a military theme.
My Pick: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Yes, I have read War and Peace, and, yes, I’ve read it multiple times. I think its size is what scares most people away but, when taken a few chapters at a time, it’s not that daunting. What this novel offers is a balance of both civilian and military life, showing what armed conflict and strife look like from both the war front and at home. It’s a grand novel where the sheer size and scope deserve praise as it explores love, marriage, family, war, morality, and religion in a very believable way. So if you’ve never read War and Peace, put it on your to-read list – you won’t be disappointed!
Sybil – the Minion: Name a book with a love-to-hate evil sidekick.
My Pick: The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Ann Noble
I just knew I had to put Noble’s debut on this list thanks to the dubious Jasper. Jasper, as it turns out, is in the employ of a nefarious circus that ends up trapping and imprisoning the novel’s lead heroes. He is truly despicable and, much like Sybil, is one character you can’t wait see meet his fate. (You can read my review of The Mermaid’s Sister here.)