Requiem Review (SPOILERS)

lauren2boliverTo be honest, I am very disappointed with the way Lauren Oliver ended the Delirium series. I fell in love with the first book, once it started to pick up the pace. I even had the rest of the series two day shipped to my house once I finished reading because that’s how good it was and how intense the cliff-hanger was.

When I got to the second book, Pandemonium, I was sort of let down. The way the story was told was very different from the way the first book was told. It was harsher and it wasn’t in chronological order…but it worked for the actual story, it fit the way Lena had matured between the books. But, of course, Oliver had to add in another guy to Lena’s life. I felt that the addition of this new love was completely unnecessary. Given the plot line of the entire first book, and her hatred toward Julian, in the beginning, makes it almost impossible for me to believe that she’s actually fallen for him. (I would have believed that they had just become friends and that he fell for her (given the circumstances) but I just don’t think that the Lena I had come to know would have fallen for Julian.) Don’t get me wrong, though, Julian is a great guy. And then, at the very end of the book, BAM an entirely unnecessary love triangle added just for some drama and because all the popular books at the time had a love triangle. I just don’t find it possible that Alex is alive after the end of the first book. And even if he is, that he found Lena out in the vast Wilds.

After the let down of Pandemonium, I was excited to read Requiem, thinking that it would actually be better written. I was wrong. If it wasn’t for how much I loved the first book of this series, I would have given Requiem a one-star rating. I didn’t mind how Oliver told the story through both Hana’s and Lena’s point of views, I thought that it worked really well and accented the story wonderfully. And the story itself wasn’t too bad, though it wasn’t nearly as captivating as Delirium. But, for most of it, there was unnecessary drama, a vast majority of the background information wasn’t explained (because Lena, as a protagonist, was kept in the dark for most of it, which is fine; readers, though, shouldn’t be kept in the dark. That’s, like, rule number three of being an author. NEVER keep your readers in the dark, they love to know what the protagonist doesn’t.) and the ending didn’t even seem like an ending. The book just stopped, abruptly, leaving me wanting more that I wanted at the end of Delirium. Did the rebellion succeed? Is Hana alive? How will Lena break the news to Julian–who has nobody besides her–that she’s going to be with Alex? Why are you guys breaking down a wall when an entire nation wants to wipe you out? I wanted more. And the way the book just stopped made it seem to me like Oliver hadn’t even thought out an ending, or didn’t want to, and decided to call it good. I was very disappointed and almost didn’t even bother finishing the book.

Like I said earlier, if it wasn’t for the first book, I’d give Requiem a one-star rating. But it gets a three-star rating because of Delirium.

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Five Things Every Protagonist Needs

I was scrolling through Twitter today and saw a tweet by Createspace that I simply could not help but be drawn to, as an author. I thought that Createspace’s blog post on ways to strengthen a protagonist was so good that I had to share it with you guys!

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You’re writing a book, and you have a main character you love. You take this character on a journey, and you think your plot is solid. All the hard work shows as you reread your story and give yourself a pat on the back. When you send your manuscript to beta readers or a critique group, you get feedback you weren’t expecting: Your protagonist is weak. The horror! How could this possibly be? It could be reasonable that you are missing some key points when developing a strong main character. I’m here to break down five things every protagonist needs to help keep your main character on point.

1. Comfort

Is your character comfortable? In other words, are you writing a character the reader will be comfortable getting to know? Is your character likable or interesting? A dull main character is not going to engage your reader if you don’t make him or her favorable enough to carry the book. Make sure that your MC has qualities that will let the reader cheer for them when faced with difficult situations or empathize with them when they don’t achieve their goals. Your MC needs to be your reader’s “friend.”

2. Clear Goals

The protag isn’t worth a lick if they don’t have a clear goal. Make sure to set the stage for a dream or goal the main character wants to fulfill. Whether it be small or big, they have to have some kind of motivation to move the plot of the book forward. Or else they are left spinning their wheels.

3. Reality

You must create a character that is real. This goes hand and hand with comfort. Show your character’s weaknesses, their downfalls, personality flaws, and little things that set them apart from the rest. Nobody is perfect, or you’ll have a Mary Sue or Marty Stu on your hands. If you have an MC who looks like an Adonis but has a chipped front tooth, that’s realistic. Give your character a workable personality so your readers view him as a hero and a real person at the same time. Mr. or Mrs. Perfect can get old very fast.

4. Conflict is Key

If everything is hunky-dory in your story, what’s the point of reading it? You need conflict to keep the reader interested and willing to see how your protagonist will overcome it. Everyone wants to root for their hero, so give them a reason to. Conflict can happen because of the choices your characters make or something they can’t prevent from happening. I like to label them as motivated conflict and unmotivated conflict. Motivated conflict is based on a character’s personal weakness that could be preventable. For instance, your protagonist is an arrogant star quarterback who expects to win the big game, but conflict happens when said character misses a key play, letting down his whole team and losing his scholarship in the process.  Unmotivated conflict is when your main character is happy; just landed the perfect job, has the perfect house, the perfect significant other. Everything is great for them. Until they find out they lost their job, their spouse leaves them, and the bank threatens to foreclose on their house. This is something the character has no control over happening.

5. Growth

This is the most vital aspect a protagonist needs in any book. If your main character doesn’t exhibit some kind of growth—whether it’s learning from their weaknesses or overcoming their earlier conflict—the reader will be left unsatisfied. It’s like eating a large, delicious meal but being left starving afterward. Show your characters overcoming their obstacles and emotionally growing as they do.

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This blog post can be found at this link!