Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top Ten Character-Driven Books

Hosted by the team over at The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for list-loving bloggers. Every Tuesday, participants compile a list of their favorite books, authors, or other literature-related things that fall under a certain category.

When some people think of character-driven novels, they think of boring tales clogged with dialogue and sparse in action. However, while character-driven novels often tend to be languid, a slow storyline is not a requirement. A story with this label simply must have complex characters whose personalities play a large role in the book's events. Here are some of my favorite character-driven books, none of which are dull at all.

1. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
This story about growing up with, growing apart from, and growing closer to friends offers LaCour's signature brand of brilliance—the kind you can't truly understand until you have read one of her books.

2. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
This friendship with a hint of potential romance is one of the messiest, most slowly and realistically developed relationships I have ever read about.

3. A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
The protagonist's growth as a dancer and a person makes this story shine. Venkatraman allows her character to develop spiritually through dance without ever sounding preachy.

4. The Chance You Won't Return by Annie Cardi
I adore the way Cardi builds a tense, yet deep-down caring, family dynamic in this debut novel.

5. All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry
It is difficult not to cheer for a character who regains control of her future after escaping a kidnapper who stole her voice by taking her tongue.

6. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
Told entirely in photographs that reveal little about its two protagonists, Chopsticks presents a unique kind of character development. Attempting to decipher this story's main characters forced me to fall in love with their story.

7. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Facing her father's imminent demise from cancer, this book's protagonist rekindles relationships with old friends, forming bonds so well-written that I can only describe them as intoxicating.

8. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
This book's narrator is sometimes unreliable and always bursting with infectious vivacity—I fell completely in love with her voice.

9. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
By writing about a character who grows more confident after becoming a DJ, Sales gives the standard coming-of-age and overcoming-depression tales a twist.

10. Golden by Jessi Kirby
This book follows its protagonist as she learns to make the most of her one wild and precious life, a goal many readers will relate to.

What are your favorite character-driven books?


  1. Oo Golden is a good one! I loved how this was a story within a story in a way. And all the love for This Song Will Save Your Life and Second Chance Summer. Great list!

    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

  2. I've heard awesome things about Morgan's book as well as 'This Song will Save Your Life.' Thanks for sharing, Emily. :)

  3. I keep reading good things about Wild Awake but the cover always put me off - silly, isn't it? This Song Will Save Your Life is brilliant - I can't believe I forgot it! Elise is a truly memorable character.

  4. I love character driven novels. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one I'd suggest.

  5. I just finished SAY WHAT YOU WILL last week. Didn't you just love both characters? I really struggled this week because I started out to create a list of just YA books that are character driven and I tried to stay away from books that were driven by the plot even if they had strong characters like The Hunger Games, Thanks for visiting my blog and putting up with my puny answers.

  6. Wow, I haven't read any of the ones you've listed! XD I need to up my reading game, lol. These look like great choices, though, and I added a couple to my TBR pile.

    Great site! I followed via email.

    Brittany @ http://www.spacebetweenthespines.com/

  7. I loved this post and now have some new books added to my TBR!

    -Devin @ http://devin-reads-books.blogspot.com/


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