Writing about the Divergent series last week got me thinking about what it means to dislike a book or series, but to love a character. Why did this come up? Well, because I love the character Four/Tobias in the series, but I don’t really like the series. In fact, everything I do like about the series is all about Four. Why? Well, yes, he is played by a very handsome actor and that certainly does hurt. That’s not what I think most readers like about him. He is probably the most complex and developed character in the series.
Who is he then? He is a boy from an abusive home who uses the system to walk away before it destroys him. He reinvents himself and faces the fears he has. His name Four revolves around those fears. He becomes obsessed with facing his fears over and over, the worst being returning to the abuse he ran from. He doesn’t seem to want to overcome them, but learn how to exist with them. He fights for what he believes in. He teaches rather than leads. He evolves, forgives, and continues to redefine himself through the series. He is still flawed no matter how he changes.
You understand Four’s motivations for his actions. Tris, our main character, is far less complete. Her motivations are now always clear. Her choices seem more of an after thought. The first half of the first book focuses on her recognizing that it’s OK that she isn’t like everyone else. She has to choose a group to live with and she makes her choice at the very moment she has to chose. It becomes less of a rational choice and more of a romantic intuition. She has fears, but quickly learns how to play the system to work around them. Things come easily to her even when they don’t come easily to her. Even her mental breaks seem to come too easily. This is probably why her ending didn’t upset me as much as it did others. Her character development makes it a logical conclusion, but she doesn’t seem to struggle with the choice, it is simply made in the moment.
This is disappointing since she is our main character and a girl.
I didn’t love the series, but I read them all. I even read the bonus book about Four and have seen all three of the movies. I will probably see the final movie and be irritated with everything except Four. Why? Because as faulty as the movies are and as much as they deviate from the books, Four is still stunningly developed compared to the other characters.
I have been trying to think of another book or series where I feel this way, but I haven’t been able to identify one. Most of the time I either love the book and characters or dislike the book and characters. The flaws of the author extend to his/her characters. I have never before disliked a series, but absolutely loved a character.
How about you? Is there a book or series you dislike, but have one character in it that you love? Tell me about it in the comments!