Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What makes me LOVE a book?

Really, it doesn't take me long to know if I'm gonna love a book.  The first chapter is enough to know if the writer has something that will speak to my heart.  What appeals to me may not to another so I'm not giving any formulas to the perfect book, no just what works for me with a few examples.

First, the characters have to rock!

What I mean is that I need to connect with the main characters in some way.  Somehow they must be important to me.  How?  Well, things like tugging at my heart with their circumstances,  relating to their situation somehow, or totally captivated by who they are.  Not a small request is it?  Here's an example for you to see what I mean.

Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout (Lux series)

I immediately LOVED Katy in Obsidian.  She's just moved somewhere (sucky thing for a teenager - something I've experienced), she loves books as much as I do, and she stands up to this gorgeous jerk that lives next door.  All of this comes across in the first chapter. 

No way I'm not gonna love this book with a character like her in it.  I really want to know what was up with the neighbor.  I really wanted to know how she was gonna deal with the way he treated her.  I already cared about her.  I was in.

There was a connect with the character.  It doesn't always have to be something we have in common, it could be something I like or something I admire.  For Katy there was both.  I had things in common with her but I also loved her snarky comments and strong spirit.

****Giveaway Reminder****
I'm running a giveaway right now for any JLA book.  

Second, the world has to be fabulous!

I will admit that paranormal is my favorite genre.  I love fantasy but I really need that grounding that the urban fantasy gives me.  A crummy world though can ruin a book.  So the ones I love always have these fabulous world, usually build around something I already can relate to. Here's an example to see what I mean.

Exiled by M.R. Merrick (Protector series)

With demons and hunters that mix the lines of right and wrong, this book has a unique take on the world of elements that drew me right in.  I really loved that Chase didn't get his element when he was supposed to.  It made him stronger and drove this story to be more than just hunters fighting demons.  There is this crossing of lines that makes this world distinct from other demon/hunter stories.  Who is the bad guy here?

Additionally, while this book has all the regular creatures that are found often in urban fantasy, it also has so many unexpected ones.  Shifters that aren't just werewolves, creatures boarding on epic fantasy like 4 winged birds, and demons that really aren't bad guys at all are just a small sample of what waits inside these pages.

No other book I have read quite puts a world together like the Protector series does.     

****Heads Up****
The author of Exiled is running a giveaway right now.  

Third, the story has to mean something to me!

Sometimes I find myself reading a book and thinking so what! If these great characters don't have a story to tell then no amount of world building can help them.  I have to want to know wants going to happen to them.  I have to worry about them.  I have to hurt when they hurt.  I have to laugh when they laugh. 

I also have to have some hope that their story won't end is tragedy.  When I read a story where it seems like the author just enjoys torturing their characters with ridiculous amounts of misery, I can't tag along.  Don't get me wrong, I know that books end in cliffhangers that get me reading book 2 but there must be hope.  One little nugget of hope is all I need.  I read books for enjoyment not to be tortured.

Least you think I only read fantasy, I have chosen a contemporary for this example. 

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

In this story, I am so drawn to both Echo and Noah.  The rocking characters are 100% in place.  And while this is a romance, there's so much more than whether these characters can get past their difference in order to love each other.  No, I'm truly worried about them.  Echo is trying to figure out what happened to her the night she got her scars while trying to deal with her step-mom having a baby.  Noah is trying so hard to get his family back.  My heart is involved with these two.  I WANT them to succeed.  I care.

I have to care about what happens to the characters in the books I read.  Otherwise, the book gets put aside.  And, so important, I have to see that there is hope that something good can come out of all of this.  I don't want some creative creation that makes it work in the end.  I need to see there is hope to keep turning the pages.  I have way too many books waiting their turn to keep reading ones where I've lost hope or that I don't care about at all.

So there you have it.  What makes me love a book.  What about you?  What makes you keep turning the pages?  Let me know in the comments.


  1. Great post Valerie!! I agree with all of it. Especially the characters. If I don't like the characters or can't connect in some way, I am not going to enjoy the book. The overall story is important too. It needs to be going somewhere or have a point to it. Even better when it's got struggles involved. It makes the emotional attachment stronger for me.

  2. This is great, Val! So informative and backed up with examples! I would love it if I could pin down everything I love about books. I'm such a genre hopper, though. And I change from day-to-day. A true Gemini.

    Thanks for sharing, girl!

  3. Characters and story pretty much trump everything for me (shocking I know). I can forgive lackluster world building if the characters and story are strong enough. Make me care about the characters, and I'll care about their story. If their story sucks, though, it doesn't matter how strong the characters are.

  4. Great post! I completely agree with you on everything especially being able to connect with the world that's being created and care about the characters!

    Great post.

  5. I love Obsidian (Obviously you know that) and I loved Exiled and Shift. I really need to read Pushing the Limits.
    Great post

  6. T_T
    If I started to tell you I'd never end :'(
    One thing is for SURE, if a book doesn't make me cry at some point... it sure means I didn't like it nor connected to the story or characters :/

    I have a question, though I'll ask you later xD


  7. Characters are a BIG thing for me. If I don't like the characters then the book is a goner. And sometimes disliking them I'm good with. But if I feel nothing, if I don't care whether they live/die or anything then its just not worth reading. I HAVE to feel something for the characters.

  8. I usually like most of the books I read. the make or break point is the way it is written - grammar, spelling, and just the ability to tell a story. Sometimes, the story sounds good as an idea, but it's not conveyed well. I try not to go too deep as to analyze characters or plots or settings because that just takes away the enjoyment for me.

  9. I agree on all points. Especially the characters! If I don't feel anything with the characters or if I don't think they are well written, I will generally not even finish the book.