When You Love the Secondary Characters More Than… Everything Else

This discussion post is, of course, inspired by this last Top Ten Tuesday topic of most memorable secondary characters. I quickly found that I could have done a top 10 for Hunger Games characters alone, and then done a second one with every other book I’ve read! While compiling my list, however, there were some characters that came to mind that I really enjoyed, and THEY were the most enjoyable part of the story sometimes. Or maybe I liked the story OK, but I didn’t care a lot about the main characters.

Loved Harley in Across the Universe, thought Amy and Elder were just OK and liked the story just alright…

Got frustrated with the book Reached and with MC Cassia, but loved a random character with a small role named Dalton

Loved some guy who’s name I can’t remember from Insurgent who gets killed off within a few chapters…

Disliked Under the Never Sky so much that I didn’t finish it, but I found Roar and Marron both to be intriguing…

What makes me like a secondary character so much more than everything else? Here’s a few thoughts on when I think it happens…

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The main characters are whiny… From the above examples, Tris is a definite exception and Amy and Elder aren’t too bad, but seriously Perry, Aria, and Cassia – STOP YOUR WHINING. It doesn’t endear me to you at all.

Or bland… This applies more to Amy and Elder…

Or out of sorts. Tris struggles through Insurgent, and I’m OK with that because she’s a person, but I can’t say I was completely on-board with her during the whole story, especially when she got in a tiffy with Four (maybe she got just a tiny bit on the whiny side…). I didn’t stop rooting for Tris at any point, but I did kind of lose interest in her when she just wasn’t herself.

The story is mainly focused on a plot element I don’t care for… This is true for almost every example I gave. I don’t care about Cassia and Ky and poetry. I don’t care about Perry and Aria’s journey. I was totally creeped out by The Season and it lost some of the story’s overall credibility for me. I found some of Insurgent to be boring and/or confusing, so I clung onto anything that seemed grounded and interesting.

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The secondary character has just way more personality… Secondary characters can outshine the primary characters’ and it still work… Finnick to Katniss, Iko and Thorne to Cinder, Petra to Ender… but the main character still has to have something going for them. I often love when a serious, straight-laced character is complimented by a secondary character who is more laid-back. But if the main character has the traits I mentioned above, and especially if their overall story arc does not seem to be going any where interesting, I will cling onto that bright spot in the story, that guy or gal with so much personality and intrigue about them.

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Just remember, Commodus is judging your characters. And speaking of him, talk about an extremely creepy but well-done secondary character…

What secondary characters do you love more than everything else in the story? And why do you think this is? 

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14 thoughts on “When You Love the Secondary Characters More Than… Everything Else

  1. It’s never really good news when the secondary characters stand out more for me. I find it happens a lot whenever I read a contemporary because I don’t have that action or world-building or shock factor when I’m reading, say, a horror or a fantasy. It’s just the story and the characters. And often when the story is basically just another version of boy meets girl, I start to really rely on the characters to make the story. And well, not all authors can do characters as well as JK Rowling!

    Great post, Amy! I loved how you provided reasons as to why this happens! 🙂

    • Thanks! I agree, when the story doesn’t have so many other engrossing elements and the focus in just on the characters, the main characters really need to stand out and not get overshadowed!

  2. The secondary characters in the Matched series were SO much better than the main ones. They weren’t even around that often, so that’s just sad. I really like the Across the Universe series, but I get what you’re saying about the MCs. Elder was kind of bland, and Amy is just very whiny. Lovely discussion post!

    • I pretty much only liked two characters in the entire Matched trilogy: Xander and Dalton, the latter whose appearance is quite scarce. So… yeah. I’ve only read the first ATU book, so I have no opinion on the others. I plan to read them sometime, I just haven’t been super motivated to.

  3. This is so true for me most of the time! If the main characters don’t work for me, I focus on the secondary, but if they suck, too, I DNF the book. My favorite secondary characters are Kenji from Shatter Me & Unravel Me (I like the others, but he was just TOO good and funny) and Thorne from Scarlet for obvious reasons. And Sturmhond from Siege and Storm. He was charming and funny and real.

  4. Great post, Amy. Your examples, they give me mixed feelings. I’m actually kind of shocked that you disliked Under the Never Sky so much, but I do agree that Roar and Marron were my favorite characters from that book. I’m even more shocked that you found Insurgent BORING, lol. However, Tris did annoy me in that book. -_-

    I’m trying to think of some examples I could add here, for me personally. Well, there’s Magnus from Cassandra Clare’s books. Hana from the Delirium series (esp. Requiem). Lucia from Falling Kingdoms (although it’s not that I disliked the main characters, I just wanted more of her).

    • I didn’t find all of Insurgent boring, just certain parts of it. Some parts I definitely found interesting. I think the parts when I was bored was due to confusion; I got lost in some of the plot and forgotten some elements of Divergent apparently. I liked the book overall.

      I wrote a DNF review where I explained my feelings toward Under the Never Sky in full, so I won’t rehash them here.

  5. I’m on the same page as you for Matched and Across the Universe series. I wanted to punch some of these main characters in the face.

    Can I bring Twilight into the picture? LOL, just because I truly enjoyed the secondary characters SO much more. 😛

  6. Yes! It totally happens! Finnick!!! *sobs*
    But sometimes, maybe because we only get a little glimpse of these characters, they just look more intriguing than the MC. It happened to me that a secondary character that I loved became not so interesting after all when s/he became the MC of the next book.

    • Oh wow, that’s really interesting that you found her less interesting when she became the MC! But I guess I can see that, because suddenly you know more about her, and all the fun and mystery is gone!

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