The 2016 Character Awards is a book tag created by Cait over at Paper Fury, an Aussie book blog we adore to bits. If you’re missing some colour in your life, please behold her colour explosions which she refers to as her bookstagram shots. Anyway, I decided to participate in her tag nominating the best characters of books we’ve read in 2016. Please also go check out her hilarious post and, if you run a blog, consider joining these informal book awards and maybe bring some underrated characters to our attention which have been looked over (yes, this is a stabby sideswipe at the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. So sue me). Because time is running out like sand between my fingers, I’ve decided to copy an assorted collection of Cait’s award categories instead of the 20 she has originally set up (I mean, honestly, which average human being can keep up with this amount of blogging, reading, reviewing, and writing? Nina out).
Obviously, this post is NOT entirely spoiler-free for the mentioned books because of reasons. If you see a cover of a book you haven’t read and would not like to be previously spoiled for (though people’s importunate GR status updates might have already taken care of that), then either read on or skip this post altogether. Consider yourself warned, folks.
Most Relatable Characters
You know, these drop-dead gorgeous beauties who, by the way, also possess incredible combat skills and look great in their leather amour? Well, they’ve been stalking the YA fantasy stage for years and we’ve had enough of those. Which is why Lada Dracul in And I Darken was like a breath of fresh air. Among pretty little roses, Lada is the weed that refuses to wilt. Though Lada is not beautiful and is continuously described as such as well as remarked upon by other characters, she’s proves that one does not need the good looks to be powerful, to be skilled, to be respected, and to be loved.
Lazar made an exaggerated bow, then winked at Radu. “Charming girl, your sister.”
Radu’s mouth formed a smile for the first time all day. “You should see her when she has had enough sleep.”
“Is she nicer?”
“Oh no, far worse.”
I’d like to further mention the two ladies from Crooked Kingdom to whom I was able to relate a lot, not least because I share my first name with one of them. Nina is a dessert-hoarding dragon and my spirit animal. I enjoyed her character development, her sass, and her backbone of steel a lot, and though I’m aware that this award category is not “Most Idolized Character”, Nina is someone I share a lot of traits with but to whom I also look up. The same goes for Inej who is but a small and mere shadow who is constantly underestimated by others (except her crew). I related to Inej a lot in the sense that I have often been belittled in my life due to my petite size and therefore had to prove my strength.
Most Pure and Precious Animal Companions
If this weren’t about the best characters of 2016, I’d gladly list Nero, Saba’s crow in Blood Red Road, as the best animal sidekick but I guess these two cuties I have here will do. The Walled City‘s Chma is a ferocious stray cat, and I loved how this little fellow stuck by Jin Ling through her starvation, sorrows, and on the run. I’m actually a dog person but this cat wormed its way into my dog-loving heart. Another animal companion I rooted for was Dove, Puck’s horse in The Scorpio Races. Racing against the flesh-eating kelpies, Dove was as brave and protective as a horse can be. I enjoy bonds between animals and their human pets ( 😉 ) and these books offered strong friendships to gush over.
Fiercest Female Fighters
“She plucked a rose and held it to her face. She hated the way roses smelled, their sweetness too fragile. She wanted a garden of evergreens. A garden of stones. A garden of swords.”
Oh look, it’s Lada yet again! Not only is she an incredibly relatable character, she’s also a spitfire or, as she is once described, someone who pisses vinegar. Lada is force and strategy united in one girl. This girl’s spine is made of steel like the weapons in her hands, and she wields them like a thunderstorm. She is a force to be reckoned with, and even though men have little respect for female soldiers in this historical setting, Lada proves her strength time and time again. Kestrel, on the other hand, shows us how a heroine does not necessarily need to be skilled with a sword to be a fierce fighter. She’s a fighter in spirit, a cunning strategist to be feared. Kestrel doesn’t stick her sword’s end in her opponents, she tricks them. Where Lada is the blunt force, Kestrel is the slow poison, and these two are some of my favourite heroines of all time for sure. Where powerful yet flawed female characters are concerned, these books are perfection!
Most Amazing Sidekicks
At the very top of my list of sidekick nominations stands Roshar, the snarky Dacra prince who runs headfirst into battle at Arin’s side but always stands by with a wise word or two. Most of all, though, he’s a firework of snark, and you all know how I love me some of that. Roshar’s character provides an excellent balance to Arin’s calm nature in The Winner’s Kiss. Roshar has an air of combined arrogance and modesty, and he rides to war armed with his sword, his armour, and his sass. Equally as precious as Roshar is TenSoon, the “shapeshifting” Kandra in the Mistborn series. The witty creature becomes Vin’s trusted companion in spite of his torn loyalties between his folk and his human friend and he, too, possesses a lot of humorous retorts. He’s incredibly strategic in his thinking, a trickster and a liar, but a precious sidekick nonetheless.
One – no, TWO – I’m Surprised I Loved
Though I liked Captive Prince somewhat as a first instalment, I was definitely not as overwhelmed by it as the reviews had lead me to believe. Therefore, my immense enjoyment of its sequel Prince’s Gambit took me by complete surprise. I had always loved Damen but I’d have never thought to fall in love with Laurent as fast as I did in this sequel. The Prince’s Gambit was everything I have ever wanted in a book: Scheming, action, and a slow burn romance. If you started and dismissed the series, I recommend you give the sequel a chance because this instalment was enjoyment on a totally different level from the first book. Where the first book was outright, violent, and had little plot substance, the second book was subtle and took a sledgehammer to my poor heart. A book I went into completely blind this year was The False Prince which was a pleasant surprise. The book’s main character Sage is a delight and the book’s strongest asset, if you ask me. A thief and a rebellious thing, he’s intelligent and feisty but kind-hearted. The plot twists in this book are mind-blowing and the slow burn romance an added bonus.
The Kings of Sass
You’re not going to believe this but there is actually someone who can level with Prince Rhy’s levels of sassiness, and that’s AIDAN. Yes, a machine. Artificial intelligence is competing with a certain charming royal when it comes to tickling my laughing muscles. Unlike Rhy, however, who aims straight for my sass-loving heart with his wittiness, AIDAN has become a sassmaster rather unintentionally. His sheer lack of social and emotional understanding leads to hilariously snarky retorts and an incredulously witty banter between him and the humans he interacts with. I should further mention that The Illuminae Files in general is a series exploding with sass, which basically has me taking shots or writing down quotes from every other page. Yes, it’s that funny, I swear (“cross my heart, hope to die” kind of swearing).
And then I should probably mention the morally grey grapes who’re about to show up next in this post, because the Gentlemen Bastards are the SASS QUARTET PAR EXCELLENCE. It’s like Rhy and AIDAN are two lovely snarky roses but these foul-mouthed thieves are a bouquet. Just saying.
Best Anti-Heroes and Their Grey Morals
The Lies of Locke Lamora wraps up a dark and gritty plot in a Venice-inspired world with a gang of the most daring badasses of thieves I’ve ever seen. If you have a soft spot for foul-mouthed little shits who steal from the rich to not feed the poor, then this fantasy is something you might enjoy. I adored the merciless assholes with their reckless stunts and unbelievable tricks, and most of all, I loved the morally grey line they walk throughout the book, though I’d say the line Locke Lamora himself stands upon was already turning pretty black. Black-ish. The Lies of Locke Lamora offers you a shitload of scheming, backstabbing, violence, and adrenaline-spiking action with four anti-heroes pretending to be heroes. And when we talk of anti-heroes, I should, of course, not forget to mention a certain someone with a limp, black gloves, and a raven cane. Kaz Brekker, – or Dirtyhands, as he is called – though one of the heroes of the Six of Crows trilogy, likes to get his hands dirty. A lot. Constantly. Always. For me, he’s a classic anti-hero because all his supposedly good actions do not come from the depth of a good heart but from the pits of utter self-interest, and that’s that.
Devious Villains to Hate
As a Psychology graduate who’s currently working at a child and adolescent mental health service, I have to be honest with you: When it comes to villains, suicidality is at the top of my list. In a team of psychiatrists and psychologists, we face suicidality every day, disguised behind masks of depression, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. Therefore, I picked Zero – the personification of Catherine’s depression – as one of the best villains to hate, because Zero was written extremely well but he’s an asshole. He’s a complete and utter asshole, like a fuckedy fucking asshole, but his depiction in The Weight of Zero was quite accurate and well researched, which is why I crown Zero as the winner of this category (and before you insult me for being an anti-male person: I’m not the one who gave him his gender. In the book, Zero is a he. And God is often referred to as a he, too, so let’s just call it quits). Also, pedophiles who abuse their power like the Regent in Captive Prince make pretty good candidates for the Best Villains to Hate category, too. This nomination really requires no explanation, me thinks.
Best Ship(s) To Sail
THE HARDEST CATEGORY, of course. 2016 has been a very good year regarding ships that sailed, so I’m going to have to choose my favourite otp and a book which threw several ships at me. Because I need an armada to conquer the world, that is. My favourite ship this year were Kestrel and Arin in The Winner’s Kiss because I’ve been rooting for these two idiots for so long, and their ending was most precious to my heart (clue: it involves a piano and a silky low voice). These two beat the odds, well deserving of their sweet ending.
“He didn’t smile. He cupped her face with both hands. An emotion tugged at his expression, a dark awe, the kind saved for a wild storm that rends the sky but doesn’t ravage your existence, doesn’t destroy every thing you love. The one that lets you feel saved.”
And then, of course, there is A Gathering of Shadows which produced not one BUT TWO SHIPS – and if you haven’t read this book yet, then it’s probably a good time to cover your eyes, because here it comes: A Darker Shade of Magic has made be so giddy for the slow burn that was Kell and Lila’s romance but I never would’ve guessed to be surprised by a steamy m/m ship. Much the hands on the cover, Schwab has been throwing out ships like confetti, and I was a very, very happy bookworm. Very happy and most delighted, indeed.
Honourable mentions go to Sophie Gracewell and Luca Falcone from the Blood for Blood series who made my head spin with their game of cat and mouse. I didn’t list this as my favourite ship because the racing of my heart has more to do with Luca than with Sophie, and a ship should be loved for its masts and its sails, should it not? A ship I’ve sighted on the horizon but has yet to find its expression are Iseult and Aeduan in Truthwitch. And judging from the chapter sampler of Windwitch, these two are going to set fire to my heart. My body is ready.
Cleverest Cute Dork Who Is Most in Need of Protection
So, this category is three categories combined into one (“Cleverest Little Hellion”, “Cutest Dork” and “Most in Need of Protection”). Though not necessarily dorky, Radu is more interested in religion and scripts than swordfights and battle. What he most certainy is, however, is clever and a precious little cinnamon roll to be protected at all costs. Wylan cannot read or write but he’s a clever little tinkerer with the brilliant ideas and, of course, he’s an adorable little muffin which I, just like Radu, want to wrap into a warm blanket and keep safe from the world’s cruelty. My heart broke over and over for these sweet little (gay) apple pies, and it screamed for justice for both throughout these books. Unlike Wylan, Radu has not yet found his peace and my heart still trembles in fear for what the Conqueror’s Saga might still hold in store for him.
Want to Read More About You
Ronan Fucking Lynch.
If you’re still with me at this point, I should probably clap you on the back for enduring my longest post since the making of this blog. I hope you enjoyed my choices for the categories Cait has set up for the 2016 Character Awards.
If you agreed with any of my choices on this list of favourite characters, please leave a swoony comment below, so we can gush together! If you did not agree with my choices and have much better candidates for the winning ranks, then please share those with me, too, so I can perhaps meet some new badass characters in 2017! 🙂