My Thoughts is a discussion feature I like to include sporadically on my blog and each one goes towards my goals in the Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole and Shannon. I try and reason out things and talk about things which have been on my mind.
I began reading Labyrinth Lost, a book I had been very excited for, just a few days ago and as I slowly began reading I was nervous because it soon became apparent I wasn’t destined to love this book. It wasn’t even the books fault, I loved the premise. I was thrilled it features a bisexual main character with a M/F/F love triangle. I loved the fact it features Latin folklore of brujas and brujos and just learning about a culture I knew nothing about. I adored the fact that family was a central theme in the book and it wasn’t simply family present but past family members, ancestors, who played a role in shaping these characters because heritage was obviously important. All of that would normally mean I adored the book…. unfortunately, I ended up DNF-ing at 40% because of one reason and one reason alone… I hated the main character.
This post is me learning a few things about myself and how I can be way more judgemental depending upon the genre.
Alex was annoying to me for many reasons and they will be spoiler filled reasons, but spoilers which reveal little more than the Goodreads summary does. But if you’re adamant to avoid spoilers I will say it’s because she is impulsive and makes stupid decisions she doesn’t accept responsibility for (at least, not within the first part of the book).
The spoiler filled reasons are that she is whiny as hell at the beginning and so supremely ungrateful and selfish. I mean, I could accept her being scared and unwilling to accept her magical ancestry and powers but she makes idiotic mistakes and is unwilling to listen to advice and is to blame for her own ignorance. She completely ignored her heritage whenever possible, refused to listen to someone telling her that it probably wasn’t the best idea to use her magic if she was unwilling to accept the consequences, and made the cardinal magical mistake of combining 2 cantos (spells) when she didn’t know what would happen.
I may be being overly harsh to her incompetence but I really struggled to feel any sympathy for her and her plight when she was to blame for banishing her entire family to Los Lagos and she then tries to blame others at first and not accept it was her own damn fault. I just wanted to slap her dumb face and knock some sense into her. What was more annoying was when a character mentioned she would know things if she’d gone to Lady’s lessons as others her age do and I was beyond pissed. She can reject her gift, fine, but she put herself in the position by not even learning of her heritage? I can’t even deal with that kind of blind ignorance. And willing ignorance at that.
Now, I know many will say she is still quite a young character and this leaves her open for some great character growth and self-discovery, which I like the idea of. If this had been contemporary YA where a main character had been self-centred and made mistakes I might have enjoyed it. But, because it is a fantasy book it leaves me more critical of rash decisions made by characters as the stakes are higher. Her decisions can lead to character deaths and they have far greater consequences. It’s difficult to have the same stakes in contemporary YA so I am not so critical of characters. I can forgive them and then continue reading to see how they develop and will be invested but in fantasy, I struggle to have that same mind frame. It’s strange how something as small as the book’s genre can affect my perspective on things.
My criticisms of Alex’s character may stem from me having a particularly annoying week or two dealing with the consequences of people who don’t know how to do their job and the frustrations this has caused me so I am less willing to deal with incompetent characters in books as well. I don’t know, but I was not a fan of her and I do not want to read about scared characters who allowed themselves to be ignorant of their past. Some may say it was nice to have a character who was aware of her heritage and had a strong family behind her so she strong emotional connections to help guide her, I say I would have been more forgiving of her stupidity if she had a good reason for not being fully aware of her heritage, but willing ignorance is something that really bugs me.
Anyway, what I learnt from this is that I prefer to have slightly more sensible characters in my fantasy. I prefer strong women who kickass and fewer teenagers making stupid life decisions and seem to be put in a book just to piss me off (because this entire book was an entire attack on me and what I like, obviously). I may go back to this book another time and really enjoy it, but for now Labyrinth Lost was a book with an excellent premise that was hampered by an annoying main character that made me stop reading. There were lots of things which if done differently would have made me be someone raving about this book too, but sadly I’m not and that’s the worst feeling because I was excited about this book.
Have you read a book where all the boxes are ticked for you and a main character ruins it for you? Am I alone in being more forgiving of character flaws in contemporary fiction for some reason or am I just being a bit crazy right now? Am I just being overly critical and need to get over myself?