It is a new year, my friends, a time for new Goodreads goals, hastily dropped resolutions, and meaningful reflection. Or, if you’re not into meaningful reflection, you can talk about books instead. (That’s what we do around here.)
Cait, also known as Paper Fury, also known as Cake-Making Grandma of the Book Blogging Community, once upon a time began the Smashing and Dashing Character Awards, wherein awards are handed out to the characters who newly won your heart in the previous year. Tremendous fun they were. Seasons change and time flies, however, and now it is Katie Hanna who keeps the tradition alive and from her I have politely pilfered these questions.
And without further ado…let the red carpet be rolled out, the trumpets sounded, the mics turned on, and the awarding of the awards begun.
THE SMASHING AND DASHING
Most Relatable Character
Murderbot!!!! (From All Systems Red and at least the next two books in the series.) Murderbot is a…not really robot; it has organic parts and also Feelings, which it hates and doesn’t want to talk about. It’s an extremely skilled combat unit (not the part I relate to) who’s been treated like an expendable object all its life and then suddenly encounters humans who find this treatment horrifying. And then they are nice to it and want it to talk about its Feelings and obviously Murderbot has never been more traumatized in its entire life. Not even by that mysterious and terrible event in its past.
Also, its thoughts are so sarcastic, and it feels so much more emotionally secure when it’s in opaque armor so people can’t see its shape or facial expressions, and it skips the romance parts in shows.
Do you see why it’s so relatable???
(Also, I’m calling it “it,” but it has skin and I’m pretty sure your entire genome is in your skin cells, and so I’m pretty sure Murderbot has a gender, and I’m guessing male, but the books don’t actually tell you what it is. Which is really interesting! Because it’s kind of irrelevant to the story and themes, you know?)
Most Pure Animal Companion
First I wanted to say Gollum (from The Lord of the Rings), then Sycorax and Caliban (from The Wednesday Wars). Then I thought maybe I oughtn’t behave like a two-year-old possessed of a demon of contrariety, so I hereby give this award to Sea-cow, from the Breton fairy-tale Little White-thorn.
Hector of Troy.
And if you dare to say that perhaps, all things considered, I should give this reward to Achilles instead –
First of all, no.
And second of all, I will smite you in oddly specific places with my spear, right as your patron deity is sneezing so I know he or she won’t interfere, and cause a mist to come before your eyes and your life to leave you and your ancient father in far-away lands to be left grieving, heirless, and childless in his old age, before stripping you of your armor and making a speech in which self-aggrandizing boasts and insults to the dead are mingled in very bad taste.
And THIRD OF ALL, Hector *bursts into weeping* is my SON and nobody’s a fiercer fighter than him because he’s fighting for his wife and his child and his HOMELAND and has been for SO LONG.
Am Surprised That I Loved You??
Death, from Hogfather (and Terry Pratchett’s books in general, I think?). (You see by his name why I’m surprised.) He talks in all caps, which would, you’d think, be scary, but no. He’s actually fond of humans, enjoys philosophical discussions, practices his “Ho-ho-ho” (he’s impersonating Santa), and is on a mission to save Santa Claus from evil assassins.
Eugene Wrayburn, from Our Mutual Friend.
Eugene is my favorite can’t-stop-being-sarcastic-to-save-his-life young man since Eugenides. (Who was my favorite since Eugene Fitzherbert, aka Flynn Rider. Clearly it’s something about the name.) He’s very clever and absolutely incapable of being serious, and he first won my heart when he took poor bewildered Mr. Boffin to task for some reference to the exemplary diligence of honeybees and explained why he did not appreciate being compared to those thrice-accursed insects.
All to amuse himself, of course. Eugene is far too flippant (on top) and far too good-natured (at bottom) to be offended by anything Mr. Boffin could say.
Also can you tell that I love Eugene? Because I love him. And the things Dickens did to me with that love were Not Very Nice.
Sakr-el-Bahr, from The Sea-Hawk.
As awful as he is, I like him. He’s tragic, sardonic, faithful for years to one woman (whom he can never marry nor even see again) with his pick of the beauties of Algeria, and almost completely eaten up with bitterness.
The Best Friends of All
Father Brown and Flambeau.
This does not need explaining.
Best Villain TO HATE
Doug’s dad (and Ernie Eco), from Okay for Now. What he did to his sons (all three of them) is inexcusable.
Award for Best vs Worst YA Parents
Worst: Ezra’s mom in Illuminae. Lady is a creep.
Best: Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. I’m aware that they’re not technically Anne’s parents, that calling Anne of Green Gables YA might not be completely accurate, and that I’m cheating anyway because it’s a reread, but Matthew and Marilla do an actually excellent job of parenting their little red-headed orphan, and I love them both SO MUCH.
Ship of All Ships in 2020
I wasn’t sure how to answer this (did I even read any romances? were any of them not annoying?), but then I remembered: Eanrin and Imraldera, from Starflower. The mortal maiden who can’t speak and the cat-poet-fairy-man who simply does not tire of the sound of his own voice (at least at the beginning of his character arc) make a precious (if unusual) couple.
Abdullah, from Castle in the Air. He didn’t ask to be magically transported to the garden where the beautiful Flower-in-the-night dwelt (but falling in love with her was nice), and hence he is somewhat grumpy at being obliged to rescue her (but you can’t just let evil djinns carry off your lady love, y’know), and also Very, Very Done with all his nagging relatives and the flying carpet that requires a steady diet of flattery and the disgruntled genie that turns his every wish awry. And so he is magnificently passive-aggressive and spends most of his days bewildered at the unfortunate things that keep happening to him, and he does not trust cats.
Basically, he’s the best.
Must Be Protected
DOUG. SWIETECK. (From Okay for Now.)
My precious son who totally doesn’t do art and knows every baseball stat in existence and loves his mom and just wants to return all the Audubons to the big bird book in the library and get through the school year like he has every other school year. He must be protected from his father and from the cruel world.
Honestly Surprised You're Still Alive
Huon, from The Great and Terrible Quest. Not because he’s reckless, just…I’m surprised.
Award for Making the Worst Decisions
Don Pedro, from The Hounds of God.
Don Pedro, my buddy, my bro.
I still love you. But try not to kidnap ladies, would you? Even if you are desperately in love with them and they’re being bafflingly stubborn about returning your affections.
Most in Need of a Nap
Tye Sackett, from The Daybreakers.
Look, y’all. All Tye wants is for people to behave themselves, stop getting into gunfights, and just generally be as pleasant and self-effacing as he is himself. But will they? No, they will not. A marshal’s work is never done. A fond brother’s work is never done. Seriously, Tom Sunday, what’s your problem. Could Tye just get a day off so he can get married? Is that too much to ask?
(And in one sentence I have made a shoot-em-up Western sound like a rom-com. Oops.)
Want to Read More About You
Uncle Bawley, from Giant. HE CRIES ALL THE TIME FROM ALLERGIES AND IS SCARED OF WOMEN. And he wanted to play the piano.
I wish there was a whole book about him.
So ends 2020, a year in which I read a fair number of good books and met a fair number of fine fellows and fair ladies. (It didn’t compare to 2019, which was an amazing reading year, but whatever.) How did you fare on your readerly adventures? Are you going to participate in the Smashing and Dashing Character Awards? (You shooould, it’s lots of fuuuuun.) Do you find that “Most in Need of a Nap” applies to a lot of characters?