I think it’s safe to say that this is one of the most difficult Top 10 Tuesday topics so far. I knew as soon as I saw it on the list that I would have a hard time with it. In general, the characters make or break the book for me. I can even tolerate a mediocre plot if the characters are very strong. Aside from that, there aren’t all that many books (that I can remember in detail at least) that I really disliked. It seems as if I’m not the only one struggling. I spent a couple of hours today looking at many of the links to various blogger’s Top 10 Tuesday post for this week, and I was a little to surprised to see just how many people had changed the topic to the opposite or created a new topic of their own. I decided to stick to the original, but with a pretty broad definition of what qualifies as a book that isn’t a favourite. Basically anything that wasn’t a 5 star read to me can be classified as not being a favourite.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
1) Rose and Ruby from The Girls by Lori Lansens
I read this book in 2016 for a prompt requiring a book set in my home state, which was one of the prompts I was least excited for. I was intrigued by this book because of the concept. It focused on Rose and Ruby, conjoined twins who are joined at the head. The story is told in the format of an autobiography written by Rose, as she describes her life attached to her sister. What is even more unusual about these twins is the way their bodies have formed. Aside from being conjoined at the head, Rose’s body has never fully developed, so she is carried by her sister almost the way a mother carries a child, with arms and legs wrapped around her. I thought the concept of the story was fascinating and the twins were both very interesting characters, but unfortunately I did not enjoy this book very much at all. I found it slow-paced and it went into far too much detail about boring events, and glossed over other parts that would have been much more interesting to read. It’s a shame really, since the characters had so much potential.
2) Carrie White from Carrie by Stephen King
Unpopular opinion time, but I have never been able to get into Stephen King’s writing. To be fair, I’ve only tried two books but I wasn’t a huge fan of either of them, and definitely not enough to be particularly motivated to read any more. Carrie was the first book of his that I read, which I read already knowing the majority of the storyline. For those who don’t know, Carrie was a bullied and abused teenage girl who develops powers that she uses to unleash horror on the people who tormented her. My main issue with this book was that I was not a fan of the writing style, although the characters were interesting. I loved the idea of the story, showing an extreme reaction to years of bullying and abuse by her mother and her classmates. The problem was, because I couldn’t get into the writing style, I had a lot of trouble connecting with the story. Carrie was a great and memorable character, but the book itself didn’t live up to my expectations at all.
3) Cora Randall from The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This was another case of an interesting character in a book I just could not get into at all. I’ve mentioned before that I was never particularly interested in reading the book, but decided to pick it up because of all the hype and because it was chosen as a Book of the Month for one of my Goodreads groups. Cora is a slave living on a cotton plantation in Georgia who has the opportunity to escape using the Underground Railroad, which in this version of the story is a literal railroad that takes slaves across the country with several stops along the way. Essentially, the book used each stop to show different eras in Black history, and it unfortunately did not work well for me because it was told from such a distant and impersonal perspective. Cora seemed like a very interesting character, but I just couldn’t get engrossed in her story because of the writing style. It felt more like a textbook than a novel to me, and that was enough to put me off.
4) Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I have known the general storyline of The Scarlet Letter from the time I was in elementary school thanks to watching Wishbone, and I decided it was finally time to give this classic a try last year. This was one of the few books that I almost gave up on right away because the opening chapter was so incredibly dry. In that chapter, the narrator describes (at great length) how they “found” the story of the scarlet letter. As soon as the book moved to Hester Prynne and her story, my interest was regained. I was very surprised to learn that Hester had a daughter, and it was actually her daughter who seemed to play the biggest role in the story. I thought Hester was a very strong character and was interested in her choice to wear the scarlet A without shame, but this was another book that I had trouble connecting with because of the writing style. It took me much longer than I expected to get through the book, and I had very little motivation to actually read it, despite my interest in Hester as a character.
5) Gandalf from The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Another unpopular opinion, but I have never been a big fan of The Lord of the Rings in any format. I’ve seen all the movies, but have never tried the books. I was assigned The Hobbit twice to read for school, once in eighth grade and again in a university Children’s Literature course. Both times, I found the book very boring and slow to get through, although I still ultimately rated it 4 stars. While I definitely agree that the world-building is absolutely incredible and the book writing is technically amazing, I just can’t get into it. I was not a huge fan of the movies either since I found them a little confusing, and I would theoretically love to try the books at some point, but definitely not for a while. The one thing I really did enjoy was the introduction of Gandalf, as a guide and protector of Bilbo and his friends. There is not too much to his character in this book alone, but it definitely hints at a lot more and leaves just enough to keep you interested.
6) Dante Quintana from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I did not hate this book, but it definitely did not live up to all the hype for me. I actually really want to give this one another chance because I almost feel like I rushed it when I last read it, and I think that affected my perception of the story and especially of the ending. Aristotle was a decent character, but I generally don’t like characters who are always angry and lashing out. Dante, on the other hand, was an excellent character and I wish we would have gotten more about him instead. Dante was a sweet character, and he was a real highlight of the story for me (and the main reason that I want to try it again). Another great thing about this book is that both characters had great and supportive parents, which is a real rarity in YA books. Both of the Benjamin Alire Saenz’s books always have great characters, even if the storylines don’t always quite work for me.
7) Georgette “Buffy” Meissonier from Feed by Mira Grant
In general, I have no interest at all in zombie stories in any format but my mom recommended this book to me because of the unusual format. This book focuses on Georgia (George) and Shaun, two sibling bloggers who are working in the United States after “the Rising,” a zombie outbreak accidentally created by scientists. The siblings and their team are hired to follow a senator’s campaign for presidency. This book was quite lengthy and got repetitive at times, but I loved the blog segments that were interspersed throughout. I rated this book 4 stars in the end, so it definitely not was a book that I disliked and in fact, it was a book that I enjoyed a lot more than I expected. I’m counting it toward this list because it was a character I liked from a genre that I typically don’t enjoy. My favourite character was Georgette Meissonier, who goes by the nickname “Buffy” (as in the Vampire Slayer, my favourite show!). Buffy was a fiction writer and a technology expert who works with the siblings as part of their team, and she was a great character. I thought she brought great balance to the team and she was one of my favourites.
8) Tris from The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Divergent was a tricky one for me. I read it after I absolutely adored The Hunger Games, and I was really hoping this one would be on par. I really enjoyed Divergent as a book on its own, and I thought Tris was an interesting main character, although basically the same as most other dystopian protagonists. Unfortunately, I found the series kind of fell apart in the following two books. I found myself confused by some of the explanations about what the main conflict was really about and what people were fighting for. I was especially confused by the whole “genetic purity” aspect, which was unfortunate because it was essential to the story. It is another case where I almost think I read through it too quickly since I read all three in a row, and might have rushed a bit. I’m interested in giving it another chance because I really liked Tris as a main character and thought her development through the series was very well-done.
9) Alice Cullen and 10) Rosalie Hale from The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
I’m cheating a bit and including two characters from the same series since I had such a tough time with this week’s topic to begin with. This series was incredibly frustrating for me because it had so much potential to be very interesting, and it just never got there. I was not a fan of the main characters, but Alice and Rosalie were both intriguing and I would have loved to have more of their backstories. I loved finally getting to find out more about Rosalie specifically in Eclipse, and I hoped to get something similar for Alice as well. I actually checked the Wiki page for Alice’s backstory but none of it was familiar at all, so if it was mentioned in the books (and it probably was), it obviously was not that memorable. Alice was just a fun character who added a lot of personality to the book, and I thought both of these characters were very interesting and another perfect example of the potential this series had.