I’m having a touch of writer’s block today, and since I have a mild headache and slightly blurred vision (I had to have my eyes dilated at the eye doctor’s today) I decided to do something more low key and choose to talk about some of my favorite book protagonists. The main thing to remember is that these leads will be in just one perspective. As much as I love the protagonists in books like Stoker and Holmes and One of Us is Lying, I have chosen just one perspective books, probably because I want a somewhat shorter list today. I did make ONE exception though, but that is because it’s a much more unusual vhoicd than you usually see in my blog. This is in no specific order.
1. Mark Watney, The Martian, Andy Weir:
If there HAD to be someone stranded on Mars, well, Mark Watney is the best person for that. Intelligent, funny, and mentally strong (how did he survive the isolation? The boredom?), he managed to survive on Mars for over a year. (I forget the exact numbers). He not only colonized Mars with potato plants, he was able to survive in a structure AND in a Rover at points. All while retaining his sense of humor and sanity. Definitely impressive.
2. Tessa Gray, The Infernal Devices, Cassandra Clare:
Tessa is easily my favorite Cassandra Clare heroine. She’s smart, kind, a bookworm, and is logical. She doesn’t allow her desires to run away from her, and uses her mind and her heart to make decisions. She becomes more open minded as the books go on, and she proves to be more powerful than she believes. She struggles with the realization that she isn’t human, but doesn’t allow it to break her and eventually embraces that part of her, heartbreak and all.
3. Ed Kennedy, I am the Messenger, Markus Zusak:
Ed is probably the most realistic protagonists I’ve ever read. He’s an underage taxi driver, has a 19 year old dog that doesn’t die at the end, and has a hopeless crush on his best friend. He feels like he’s a loser who’ll never amount to anything. Until he stops a bank robbery and starts getting playing cards in the mail, containing clues for places to go and people to meet. He begins to change lives, and find purpose. What makes him real is that he fails a lot. He doesn’t always do the right thing, yet is self aware and amends his mistakes .
4. Audrey Rose Wadsworth, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Kerri Maniscalco:
Audrey Rose is one of the few feminist leads I’ve read who strike a perfect balance between being progressive, intelligent, and feminine. While she does want to work in forensics, which is considered a man’s job, she also appreciates dresses and beauty. She even says it herself: “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce…Just because I was interested in a man’s job didn’t mean I had to give up being girly.” As much as I love a good Katniss Everdeen, I’d like more heroines like Audrey; they seem balanced.
5. Liesel Meminger, The Book Thief, Markus Zusak:
Liesel is one of the most inspiring protagonists I’ve ever read. She starts as an illiterate girl who was the daughter of a communist, and was being adopted into a new family after the death of her brother. This was all when she was ten, and that’s just the beginning. When she’s older, her family even hides a Jew, while living in Nazi Germany during WW2. That’s really dangerous, and yet Liesel is able to stay strong. Plus, her determination to learn to read and to find more books is seriously admirable.
6. Danny Torrance, The Shining, Stephen King:
My one exception to my, “only books with one perspective,” why did I put Danny here, instead of Jack, the main protagonist? Danny becomes more of the lead character as the book goes on. I have to applaud Stephen King for writing a leading kid character who actually behaves like a child, but an innocent five year old who’s in over his head and doesn’t understand all of what’s going on. Not many writers can do that without making them annoying, but Danny is one of the most endearing literary kids.
7. The second Mrs. De Winter, Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier:
An odd choice, this leading lady is so timid, such a wallflower, and lacks such a backbone that she doesn’t even get a name. So why is she here? Well, let’s look here: she’s shy. She constantly compares herself to her husband’s first wife, the titular Rebecca (and with everyone telling her constantly, “you’re nothing like Rebecca,” who can blame her?). But she’s also self aware of her weakness and struggles to rise above it in an unwittingly abusive place, and she overcomes each of her obstacles, which is pretty amazing. She may not be seen as strong, but she develops her strength as the book goes on, something most books don’t do.