Thursday, 7 April 2011

Reader Request: Top Seven Adult Characters

Another Reader Request post! This time the reader is Alex, who wanted a post about characters. Here's what she said:

I'd really like to read some more of your in-depth thoughts on fictional characters/relationships. I loved the top 10 post the other day.  

And here's the post: my favourite adult characters in children's/YA fiction. I think adult characters often get a hard time in children's or YA novels (absent parents, irresponsible relatives, cruel stepmothers, and so forth) - but sometimes you get a truly fantastic, superb grown up, whether they're a parental influence or a friend or an antagonist. In this post, I'll list my top seven, in no particular order.

Note: I'm widening the definition of children's/YA fiction to novels that also happen to be primarily about a child/told from a child's point of view, even if the novel itself isn't necessarily a children's story. I've broadened the definition for one reason only: so I can include one of my favourite adult characters of all time.

1. Sirius Black in the Harry Potter novels (JK Rowling)
I loved Sirius from the moment he appeared and proved just how wrong we/Harry/the world had been about him right through Prisoner of Azkaban. I've always thought him reckless but loving, irresponsible but oddly kind. And sexy.

2. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Atticus is the reason I broadened my definition, because some would argue that TKAM isn't exactly a children's book - though I think it is.
Who doesn't love Atticus? He's good and clever and brave - incredibly brave. He's not without flaws. And he loves his kids so much.

3. Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter novels (JK Rowling)
It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that, given my way, most of the characters on this list would be from Harry Potter - I think there are some fantastic adult figures in the series. But I'm limiting myself to a few, lest I bore everyone. And Professor McGonagall had to make the cut. She's brilliant and hilarious and weirdly soft once you get past her sarcasm and prickly, stern exterior. And she totally won my heart when she went out of her way to defy Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix.

4. Luke Garroway in The Mortal Instruments trilogy/series (Cassandra Clare)
Clearly I like the cool, fatherly figure - though Luke is also fierce, totally not perfect, and is *ahem spoiler ahead* a werewolf. I like werewolves (except Jacob. Sorry, Jacob fans. Jacob annoyed the heck out of me.)

5. Topaz Mortmain in I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)
Again, not entirely sure this officially counts as YA, but if it doesn't, I think it should. 
Topaz is obviously a lunatic, and I mean that in the best possible way. She stands on the heath stark naked in an attempt to commune with nature. This makes her awesome to me. And hilarious. She's also rather sweet.

6. Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)
Definitely not the loving father, him. He's ruthless and charismatic and often cruel, but he ultimately redeems himself. I just love that about him. And he's another sexy one, so I fancy him anyway.

7. Mags in Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)
Any Hunger Games fans out there will probably think this an odd choice. After all, Mags is barely in the book - she hasn't got much page-time. But this is an old, old woman who volunteers to fight to the death just to save another girl from having to do it. And when a certain something happens to her, I bawled my eyes out, which just goes to show how quickly I grew to love her.

And there you have it: my top seven. Who are your favourite adult characters? And why do you love them so much?


  1. Atticus Finch, probably my favorite. Then there's Schmendrick the Magician from The Last Unicorn whose "devotion to the exquisite creature he follows is exceeded only by his mediocrity in magic."

  2. Snape is one of the best, but I actually like Haymitch a lot. As in love to hate (sort of).

  3. Sirius is my favorite HP character!! Snape comes in second. Love your reader request posts!

  4. I knew 7 out of 10 - great examples! Atticus Finch!!!!!! They should have a monument to him somewhere. I bet you they do. And i know exactly the scene with Mags- it made me cry too.

  5. Um... I didn't know any of these - yikes. Do you still love me? :)

  6. I'm all about Snape. But Atticus Finch is a real winner.

  7. Dumbledore should be the first on the list. And I like Haymitch.

  8. How behind am I with comments?! Thanks for answering my reader request :)

    So pleased that Topaz is on the list. I think she's a lovely example of a character that would be irritating and irrelevant in the hands of a lesser author but Dodie Smith wrote her so beautifully.

    I think Chrestomanci from the Diana Wynne Jones books would definitely be on my list. He's just so endlessly entertaining.