The time has come. The Chosen One has risen. And the eye-rolling is abound . . .
This is something that’s been playing on my mind recently, the superfluous numbers of ‘chosen’ characters in (specifically) YA novels. Hmph. They can be somewhat frustrating and often result in you exclaiming OH GET OVER YOURSELF! You know what I mean?
There’s a dramatic moment when Mr. Nobody gets a visit/letter/vision/whack on the head and suddenly is enlightened to their special-ness. And whilst this was okay the first time, by the 200th time you’re banging your head against the wall.
Yet! Whilst it might sound like I absolutely am beginning to hate YA, I’m not. And in all honesty, I don’t entirely hate this character type. For me, I know I’m reading a book (well done me), I know it’s fiction (high five), and therefore I know that I am willing participating in a story for entertainment. I am willing eating a chocolate bar because it was branded as chocolate – am I right?
Yes, sometimes I think this can be super over done but for me, I can’t seem to imagine how a book can exist and not have some dose of this? If the main character wasn’t the special one, the chosen one, had superpowers, or saved the world, then . . . what are we reading? This is obviously very different for non-fiction. The only book that pops to mind is Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here . . . but I haven’t actually read that yet so perhaps I shouldn’t really use that. There’s always something special and intriguing about the character who’s telling the story for the simple reason that they have a story to tell. Right? Let’s just have a little look at a conversation I had with myself earlier:
Me 1: I don’t think I really have a problem with special characters.
Me 2: That’s wonderful . . .what do you mean?
Me 1: You know? The characters that have something special about them – Harry Potter?
Me 2: Well, in his defense Harry is being hunted by a dark wizard lord who’s already failed to kill him once and is relatively paranoid about dying.
Me 1: *Sips tea*
Me 2: So he’s not really ‘chosen’, he’s just unlucky.
Me 1: No, I don’t think so. Harry is THE boy, the boy who lived, or died, whatever it was.
Me 2: You are a disgrace to the wizarding world.
Me 1: WE ARE OFF TOPIC.
Me 2: *Sigh* I think the internet is referring to the characters who are bestowed with the task of saving the world, or an important person, or something that only they can do.
Me 1: Totally still relevant.
Me 2: Okay FINE. Harry is the chosen one. But this is such an over done thing in YA!! Just give me me in a book. Fffs.
Me 1: You in a book? That’d be boring.
Me 2: Excuse me? No it wouldn’t.
Me 1: It’d be a book about a girl who drinks too much tea and reads books . . . and occasionally ventures outside.
Me 2: *Death stare*
Okay, so maybe I didn’t really establish much earlier but I do think it’s a trickier topic then we make it out to be. ‘Special’ characters are a bit of fun, they give us this super stressed little person who doesn’t believe in themself until they complete their task in a usually reasonably terrifying manner. You might hate these characters, but if you’re like me, you’re kind of a sucker for them too.
So in lieu of this I’ve created an anyone-can-do-it check list to help you through the cringe moments when that special someone becomes the victim of a book throwing tantrum:
- Make and drink tea. Seriously. Tea fixes everything. And if you don’t like tea? LEARN TO.
- Appreciate the fun. Okay, okay, the character might be to you like a grater is to cheese, but the story’s still fun, no? Yes it is. You know it is. You can DO THIS.
- Eat chocolate. If you’re frazzled and suffering from sporadic (and often ill-timed) outbursts of OH FOR GOODNESS SAKEs then eat chocolate. Professor Lupin highly recommends it.
- Close the book. Wait, whaa? Just do it – the book might have a pretty cover, in which case staring at it might make you feel better (or might just re-determine you to finish that beauty).
- Look at your TBR. Why? Because you’ve bought a lot of these books – for some reason you’re addicted to YA. So maybe you should either: reconsider your life decisions, or, acknowledge the fact that EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY.
- It was worth putting up with Harry because everything about that series is amazing. It was worth putting up with Percy Jackson because everything about that series was amazing. It was even somewhat worth putting up with America Singer, but not because it was amazing, it was mostly just really fun to laugh at her.
- You love reading, so shhh, you go into every book knowing there’s a potential hazard of an over zealous ‘special’ character. So tea and chocolate and staring into the void whilst being buried in Harry Potter books and paraphernalia is going to have to be the solution.
So hopefully following those 7 handy steps to overcoming frustratingly slappable characters helps. If not, well, I tried. The one thing that gives me immunity to this problem is the simple fact that I’m a real sucker for YA and I don’t mind if it’s been somewhat done before (as long as it’s not basically plagiarism) because as long as I enjoy what’s written on the page and the more specific and minute details are different enough, I’m happy.
HOWEVER. One thing that has been getting on my nerves is the fact that whenever there’s an apocalypse, it’s always America that survives. And why do all authors set their books in America? I long to read a book set somewhere really left-of-centre, like Mauritius, for example. But that’s a topic for another day.
Arrivederci tutti and happy reading!
What do YOU think about the ‘chosen’/’special’ character troupe? Do you find it frustrating – and is it enough to make you put the book down? *Gasp*. Let’s hear your thoughts below!