Tuesday, 15 June 2010

When Good Characters Go Bad

Have you ever really loved a character only to have them change into a completely different person between one book and the next?

Is this just a matter of personal interpretation? You think that they've changed but actually you're wrong. Have you misjudged everything about the character to the point where you didn't see what was blindingly obvious to the rest of the readership? Or on the other hand, you're not going mad and they've definitely changed.

Is it ever acceptable for a character to do a complete 180 personality wise - as regards beliefs, character traits etc. - with no other explanation than, that's the way it is.

A couple of examples. (My personal opinions other readers may disagree)

For me John Matthew of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series changed in Lover Avenged. Up until that book he'd been my favourite character and my main reason for following the series. I loved that though he was young and unsure of himself and his worth, he had a depth and vulnerability that put you firmly on his side. Unfortunately in Lover Avenged he turned into a bit of a wanker. (I now find I'm reading the series for the relationship between Blay and Qhuinn).

Another character who suffered an extreme personality change was Nicolette Peltier of the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. She'd always been portrayed as this earth mother type, firm but fair. However, in the book Unleash the Night she turns into a right cow (for want of a better description). Apparently all the compassion, understanding and diplomacy she showed in the previous books was just for show.

I'm sure there are other cases where I've read something and thought Noooooo, that character just wouldn't do/say that. Don't you remember way back in book 2 he said he'd never do x,y or z. (Insert the appropriate action in place of the algebra)

Are there characters who you feel have changed without good reason? Or has this phenomenon never happened to you? (In which case consider yourself lucky)

I have a copy of Shadows and Lace by Teresa Medeiros* to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number at randomnumber.org on Saturday.

* Yep the giveaway is going a bit historical. :)


Sullivan McPig said...

Two characters come to mind:

First Armand from Anne Rice's vampire books.
In The Vampire Lestat it is explained how Armand has never made another vampire and why. And then suddenly at the start of Queen of the Damned he's made that pesky interviewer from the first book into a vampire and it isn't explained why!

second Lyra from His Dark Materials
in the first book she's cool and strong and I loved her. Then in book two this older boy shows up and she turns into a ninny! I didn't even read book three.

Chris said...

Not entering... But who can resist another deep question?

Um, Anita Blake?!? :)

LesleyW said...

Sullivan - I think that must be one of the most annoying changes when a strong female character suddenly becomes a wimp.

Chris - How could I have forgot about Anita? :)

Sarai said...

I'm with Chris. ANITA DROVE ME INSANE I absolutely refuse to read any more of her writing in general b/c of that.

I know there is another but I'm drawing a blank b/c I'm so annoyed with Anita UGH... if I think of it I will get back with you

LSUReader said...

I'm going with Kay Scarpetta from the Patricia Cornwell books. The early books are so great. The last few were beyond disappointing.

I'll defend Anita Blake a bit--but just a bit. Yeah, sometimes she drives me nuts, too. But then Hamilton will write another good book like the "old days" (not Flirt) and I'll think, "There's still hope" so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Barbara said...

I would like to write some long comment about a character that changed so dramatically that I've started to hate him or her, but unfortunately at the moment I can't think about anyone. Moreover, I'm still too new to m/m romance books, so maybe I simply don't have enough experience?

LesleyW said...

Sarai - I also lost faith with Anita, but I've still got the early books.

LSUReader - Sometimes it's worth hanging on when a character goes bad just in case it's a blip.

LesleyW said...

Barbara - it's great that you haven't yet been disappointed by a character. I hope it never happens to you. :)