W is for Wanderer/ Wanda

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8465.JPGWanderer, later called Wanda, is the main character of The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Yes, that Stephanie Meyer.

It’s a light science fiction book about a race of parasites that go to various planets and inhabit the host species. The parasites are motivated by altruism. On Earth, they felt that humans were destroying the planet, and that they could do better.

These parasites (they call themselves “souls,” but they fit the definition of parasites) take over human bodies, and the consciousness of the human vessel is supposed to vanish. This is just what they do on all the planets they inhabit, and they don’t think anything negative about it.

Wanderer inhabits the body of Melanie, but Melanie won’t give up her consciousness. Wanderer eventually goes in search of Melanie’s brother and her boyfriend, who are living in a small, hidden camp of human survivors.

At first, the humans are understandably vicious to Wanderer. She doesn’t tell them that she and Melanie are still sharing the body because she figures they wouldn’t believe her.

But as time goes on, Wanderer is accepted into the group of humans. No matter what happens to her, she’s kind and gentle. Eventually, she realizes that maybe the humans have a right to be so angry.

She’s called Wanderer because she’s lived on many planets, never finding one that was home, and never settling down. But she grows to love Earth and her human family.

I love Wanderer because she’s relentlessly positive. She believes the best about people, is hard working, loving, and best of all… isn’t afraid to change her mind.

The movie was fine, but nowhere near as good as the book. This is one of those cases where they really couldn’t have matched it, because part of what made it so great was the internal arguments between Melanie and Wanderer.

So, have you read it or seen the movie?

 

V is for Victoria

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8444Victoria, from the Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is a heartbreaking character.

The book is written with dual timelines. The first timeline starts the day Victoria ages out of the foster care system and is thrust into a world of her own. The second timeline starts when she was 8 years old and placed in a home with a woman who vowed to adopt her. That obviously didn’t happen, and it takes a long time to figure out why.

Victoria makes awful choices in both timelines, but it’s clear she’s lonely and disconnected. She never learned to accept love, and never met anyone worth connecting to.

Victoria doesn’t like interacting with other people. Her foster mother taught her the language of flowers, that the common thistle means misanthropy, for instance. It’s how she communicates with people, even if they don’t know it.

She ends up meeting a young man who understands her language. And for the first time since she was a child, someone breaks through the armor she coats herself with.

The theme of this story is healing. All the characters need to heal from various wounds and forgive themselves. Victoria is prickly and irritable and lovely. There were times I yelled at her, and times I wanted to give her a big hug.

Do you ever talk to characters in books?

U is for Umbridge

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8447Yes, this blog is about Delores Umbridge. From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by JK Rowling (in case you’ve been living under a rock or something).

You may have noticed by now that I like villains and antiheroes. I like complex characters who make you see their point of view.

I loathe Delores Umbridge. I wanted to see something awful happen to her. Like being forced to watch reruns of Jersey Shore. Or being dismembered.

It’s not just because she tortures Harry. I always kind of liked Snape. Even before the last book, I always thought he was good, deep down. Like Vader.

But everything abut Delores Umbridge is detestable. She talks in a sickly sweet voice that makes me want to vomit, even when I’m reading the book and not actually listening to her. She has plates of creepy kittens (and anyone who makes kittens a bad thing deserves to die, in my book).

She’s got her own agenda, which is Villain 101. But she runs roughshod over the other teachers, respecting nothing and no one who opposes her. Every time she tightens her grasp, more slips out of her grubby little fingers.

But all this is what makes her such a great villain. Every once in awhile, it’s nice for things to be in black and white. There’s no reason to like her. Even He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named wasn’t as horrible as she was.

And that’s really saying something.

Who’s your favorite villain?

Some of you may have seen my “V” blog go live for a brief second this morning. I apologize… apparently I don’t know my alphabet. If anyone wants to send me back to Kindergarten to relearn it, as long as I get snack time and nap time, I’m in.

T is for Tiffany

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

UnknownThe Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, is a great story. The thing I liked most about this story was that it portrayed characters with mental health issues as the heroes of the story. No one comes in and saves them; they save themselves (or one another).

Pat has just gotten out of the mental hospital, and is obsessed with getting his ex-wife back. He and Tiffany are the outsiders, the crazy people that everyone in the neighborhood knows. Eventually they enter a dance competition together. Practicing together every day, they become friends.

They both do things that are problematic through the story, things not usually worthy of “real” heroes. But the point is that they’re both struggling under the weight of mental illnesses, and they’re doing the best they can to survive in a world that doesn’t get it.

When I read reviews about this book, no one mentions Tiffany, and I love her. Here’s why… Tiffany has borderline personality disorder. I’ve provided a link to what that actually means if you’re interested in the diagnosis. But in a nutshell, it means that she struggles with relationships. She wants love, is desperate for it, but pushes people away. She’s done impulsive things that have gotten her all sorts of labels (crazy, slut, etc.). She hurts herself, and looks for something, anything to fill up the emptiness.

No one ever portrays people with this disorder in a positive light, a human light. Even therapists, for some reason, often look down on people with this disorder. I mean, in real life, it’s true that someone with this disorder can be exhausting for those around them. But no one wants to be that way.

Advocacy for the destigmatization of mental illness is becoming more and more common. But while most people are aware of autism and schizophrenia and substance abuse disorders, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of those scary illnesses that no one seems to talk about.

Brace yourself for what I’m about to say… I liked the book, but I loved the movie. Maybe it was because Jennifer Lawrence really sold Tiffany, and her onscreen chemistry with Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) was wonderful. When they argued, sparks flew. And the sweet ending was exactly what they both deserved.

Neither of them are perfect characters, and no one is trying to pretend they are. But they’re human and worthy of having stories where they’re not the villain or a punchline.

If you’re interested in a memoir about this disorder, I can recommend two: Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall, and Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder by Rachel Reiland.

S is for Scott Pilgrim

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

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80s stuff rocks! Effect done with Photo Lab Pro on my iPhone. 

I watched the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and loved it. It’s such an underrated movie. I guess it probably appealed to the 80s kid in me, with the many nods to classic video games.

The graphic novels are fun, and follow the same basic premise. Scott is pretty much a screw up who falls for Ramona Flowers after she starts using a subspace highway in his head as a short cut. So he dreams of her first, and then later meets her in real life.

Scott’s so determined to have Ramona date him that he agrees to fight her seven evil ex-boyfriends.

Scott isn’t perfect. In fact, he’s kind of a jerk. He doesn’t break up with his other girlfriend before starting to date Ramona. He doesn’t have a job or his own place. In real life, if one of my friends wanted to date him, I’d be like, “Run.”

But as the “hero” of a graphic novel, he’s actually pretty fun. Having him be such a screw up gives him a shot at redemption. Can he become less selfish? Will he defeat the evil exes? Or will he become one of them…?

Do you like graphic novels? What do you think about flawed characters like Scott?

R is for Rick Grimes

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

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Isn’t the artwork lovely? I had a lot of trouble finding a page with no gory stuff and no swearing.

This is not my first time talking about The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman, on this blog. I love both the TV show and the graphic novel, even though they’re quite different. Many of the characters are similar, like Rick and Glenn 😦 , and some are completely different, like Carol and Daryl (who doesn’t even exist in the comic, if you can believe it!)

But I don’t think I’ve ever specifically talked about Rick.

I love Rick as a hero and the leader of the group. Before the apocalypse, he was a cop. He’s all about law and order and doing the right thing. At first, he has a strict moral code that’s a leftover from the world before. But when he realizes that’s not going to work anymore, he adapts.

His moral code changes throughout the books and the TV show. Sometimes he tries to be the man he was before the apocalypse, and sometimes he realizes that’s impossible. But what I like about him is that his moral base is always on his mind, and he’s always the guy trying to keep his family alive.

At first, family means his wife, child, and best friend/ partner. Later, it comes to mean the group he’s in charge of.

Rick has moments where he loses his mind a little, which I think is understandable. Having to come to terms with a world where zombies… excuse me… walkers are real, would be too much for most of us to handle.

I’ve seen people online complain about how Rick (on the TV show) changes his mind on things. For instance, helping strangers vs. not helping them. He goes back and forth on this issue a few times. They say it’s inconsistent or wishy washy.

I think it’s human.

I think that changing our minds based on new information we get is what people do. Sometimes we go back and forth on issues a few times, depending on many factors. If we don’t adapt and grow, assimilate new information, we stagnate and die. His underlying moral code doesn’t change, so it’s not accurate to call him inconsistent. He always puts family first. It’s just the other decisions that change based on his thinking at the time and recent experiences.

What do you think about characters who change their mind? Are you a fan of The Walking Dead, show or graphic novels?

P is for Monsieur Perdu

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

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As far as I’m concerned, Harry Potter is always therapy. Take two and call me in the morning! (Or don’t; I’m not a morning person.)

Monsieur Perdu is the main character of The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George.

Full disclosure, the book itself was merely okay, in my opinion.

What I loved was Msr Perdu. He’s a self-proclaimed book apothecary, dispensing books as prescriptions for various things that ail people. He has a little bookshop on a boat in France. Instead of giving people what they want to read, he tells them what they need to read.

I love this idea! In fact, I would have preferred that were the focus of the book. Of course, Msr Perdu is struggling with heartache himself, and dropped out of life because of it. There’s no one to give him the right book to cure him.

Though I think Msr Perdu is one of the best characters in fiction, he wasn’t strong enough to carry a whole book. And in fact, the book focused on his heartache rather than the part I found interesting: his ability to know what book each person needed.

After I read this book I found out that there are actual book therapists out there. I’m tempted to book a session, just because I love the idea so much.

Though this book wasn’t life changing for me, it made me reflect on how much books have been life changing for me, and how much I do use them as therapy. What I read depends on my mood as much as anything else.

Would you like to meet a book apothecary? Do you have a go-to book you read (or genre) when you’re feeling blue?