The Fallacy of the likeable protagonist: a review of “The Demon’s Lexicon” and “Corbenic”
Or, walk softly and carry a sharp sword
This post is inspired by a discussion we’ve been having recently, and also by two excellent books I just read. In the discussion, some people seemed to evaluate characters according to whether they liked them or not. That’s quite human, and I’d guess we readers do it all the time. I’ve done it myself. I’ve said, a few times, about books or films, “I didn’t like it because I didn’t like any of the characters”. But do you really have to like a protagonist for a story to work for you?
This past month, I read two excellent teen fantasies that call this thesis into question. They are “Corbenic” by Catherine Fisher, and “The Demon’s Lexicon” by Sarah Rees Brennan. And, quite honestly, it is difficult to like the two young men at the heart of these stories. But, in the end, it is very easy to love them – perhaps Nick, of “The Demon’s Lexicon”, in particular. Because there is a difference between liking a fictional character and liking a person in real life, and there is an even greater difference between merely liking a character and loving them. Continue reading