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?

 

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?

M is for Mark Watney

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_8378.JPGMark Watney is the main character of The Martian, by Andy Weir. It’s technically a science fiction book, and people who know science fiction said that the science is mostly realistic. Even though natural sciences aren’t my thing, I do think it’s important for the science to be accurate. If I can spot the science problems, it takes me right out of the story.

Even though this is science fiction, for me it was much more about the psychological struggle of a man deserted on a planet where he knows he will probably die.

Mark is part of a team of astronauts who landed on Mars. When an unexpected storm happens, Mark is blown away from the rest of the team and presumed dead. When he wakes, and realizes what happened, he goes through the predictable stages, even contemplating suicide at one point.

But, of course, he doesn’t give up. He’s the botanist and the engineer, but he was also chosen for the mission because of his optimistic nature and his sense of humor. Those features really shine through throughout the book.

It could have been just a book about a guy surviving. But instead, Mark is a guy who’s doing his best to live. He complains about being stuck with only disco music (his commander’s personal items were left behind), and laughs at himself when he screws up.

There’s a reason why solitary confinement is considered the worst of the worst punishments for human beings. Being alone does wear on Mark, but his sense of humor is a constant. Even though he expects to die, he never gives up home.

I’m sure some people loved this book for the marooned on Mars aspect of it, and yeah, that was great. But I loved the human aspect of it. It’s not touchy-feely, hitting the reader over the head with what a great guy Mark is or showing him lamenting all the things he left behind (as I think some authors would have been tempted to do). Instead, Mark leaps off the page with every problem he solves and the way he interacts with others.

Oh, and the movie was good too.

Did you read the book or see the movie? What did you think?

L is for Longmire

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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Two Longmire books in a stack of my TBRs from December.

I’ve had several letters where I’ve had to choose between one character or another (or like 5 different ones), but this is the first one where I’ve had to choose between a hero (Longmire) or a villain (Hannibal Lecter).

Walt Longmire is an interesting guy, and I first got acquainted with him on the TV show of the same name. He’s the hero of a series of mystery novels by Craig Johnson, the first one of which is The Cold Dish. Yes, it’s referring to revenge.

The show and the books are similar only in a few of the main characters, and the basic plot of some of the books.

Longmire is the sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming. He’s an old-fashioned hero, always trying to do the right thing. He’s chivalrous and has a rigid moral code that he lives by.

There’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned hero; it’s just that many modern heroes tend to be more emotionally complex. Sometimes it’s nice to spend time with a guy who always wants to do the right thing.

His friends are always trying to get him to take better care of himself, but he lives for his his job and protecting others. He knows and is on good terms with most of the people in the county. There’s also an Indian reservation right near Longmire’s county, and he has has some experiences with Indian spirit guides throughout the books. Longmire’s best friend is Henry Standing Bear, and I could have written an entire blog about Henry as well (but I didn’t).

I appreciate the differences between the books and the show, and I enjoy them both. It’s nice when they’re different, but still both enjoyable. I think that often, when that happens, it’s obviously largely because of good writing, but it’s also because of strong characters who can carry two different storylines and still remain true to who they are.

Have you seen the show or read the books?

 

I is for Idgie

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_8359.JPGI caught Fried Green Tomatoes on TV when I was a teenager. I watched it, probably because I loved Mary Stuart Masterson. It was one of my first encounters with a frame story. Evelyn starts visiting with Ninny, and Ninny tells the story of Idgie and Ruth. I’m not sure when I found out that it was actually a book: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg, but it stayed on my TBR for a few years.

When I finally read it, I fell in love with the characters all over again. They were even better (of course) than the characters in the movie. Idgie was a rebel, determined to do her own thing, even when it might have been easier to be more accommodating.

Idgie is never afraid to fight for the people she loves. Though Evelyn never meets her, Idgie becomes a role model to her, and through the stories she hears, Evelyn learns to become more assertive and happier in her life.

The movie was good, but the book was better. There are some things left out of the movie. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a pretty quick read. In fact, writing this post makes me want to go visit Idgie right now.

Have you read the book or seen this movie? Thoughts?