These past few weeks I’ve been on a bit of a Sarah J Maas binge. After I liked A Court of Thorns and Roses and LOVED A Court of Mist and Fury, it was while reading A Court of Wings and Ruin and Throne of Glass that I started noticing some trends I wasn’t a fan of… Fear not, I won’t be spoiling any of the books previously mentioned, but I will be discussing some issues I’ve found in them and other similar books and shows.
As someone who LOVES action-packed novels that constantly have me on the edge of my seat, I cannot stress enough the importance of STAKES in a novel. The characters must have something to lose and we must fear the characters might actually lose it. Something that seriously hinders my investment in a character and their safety is when resurrection is cannon within a universe. It kills off all future tension and leaves me no longer fearing for a character’s life, since they could simply be brought back. This issue can be found in a lot of media lately, but is almost the sole reason that I stopped watching the show Arrow. I’m sorry, but I can’t take your novel/show as seriously as you want me to, when I honestly no longer care what happens to the characters. The one instance I can think of resurrection working okay as a plot point is in the show Supernatural, and that is only because the show has become SO self-aware and is more for laughs than actual tension these days.
Recently there has been a push for more and more badass heroes and heroines; and, while a part of me loves these characters, they just aren’t as interesting. I would much rather read about a character who has to fight every day to survive and eventually works their way up to being badass than one who kicks butt from page one. This is my major issue with Throne of Glass. Yes, Celaena is a strong heroine who could kick my butt in .2 seconds but she feels too invincible. Her one “flaw” that mostly shows itself in the prequel novellas and not in the main story (so far) is her pride, if she overcame that, she’d be invincible. And I’m sorry but NEAR INVINCIBLE CHARACTERS JUST AREN’T INTERESTING. This is a major flaw for a novel because it leaves me highly uninterested in the plot since I never really fear for the main character’s life. Physically strong and badass leads can be great! But if done improperly, they are REALLY BORING. I want the main character to FIGHT for whatever they need. I want to go through highs and lows with the main character. Call me cruel, but I want the main character to SUFFER as I fear for their life, if it gives the novel stakes and investment, and me more of a reason to continue reading.
Both of these are major issues that have either caused me to become apathetic to series, or stop reading them entirely. If you can’t tell, I’m the type of person who likes to feel a connection with the main character, and like I’m truly going on a journey with them. I want to be worried when they’re worried, nervous when they’re nervous, and most of all I want to hope for their safety. I actually love getting my heart broken by a novel because it means I CARED! It means I loved the story/characters so much, that when bad things happened it gave me REAL EMOTIONS, as if the novel was real or something.
Do you have any thoughts on the topics of resurrection or badass leads in novels or TV? What is the biggest factor in keeping you reading? What makes you really want to give up on a novel/show?