Can you read a novel if you dislike the hero? I mean, yes, of course, you can, but will you? I don’t think so.
I read a lot of mysteries and I love the mystery that will keep me guessing until the end. So I often find myself reading something where the hero or heroine starts out the book in a situation that at best, could be called compromising. You as the reader, already know the worst about the hero. The author is inviting the reader to keep on reading to see what really happened.
Recently, I read one where the heroine stated that she had killed her husband and that she loved her husband all in the same opening sentence. I read it, wanting to know what went on and was not disappointed.
But I picked up a book this week that I can’t finish. I won’t tell you the title or author but I will recap the opening scenes as they illustrate my problem. The heroine is driving to her home town and seems in a hurry. She crosses a final bridge, her thoughts filled with memories and yet she keeps pressing on. Her car becomes out of control on the bridge and she sideswipes another vehicle. She sees a child in the other car, as it goes over the edge. And yet she drives on.
I had been intrigued and willing to let the dance play out until this moment when she leaves, thinking, “It wasn’t my fault. I’m sorry.” I don’t like this woman. At all. And I won’t finish this book.
I have read books that pushed the envelope on character like-ability. But this one is beyond any hope of like. That anyone could think anything could be more important than the lives of others is beyond me.
So the game for me this week is what would make this book redeemable? Under what circumstances would I have thought to finish?
There is at least one, I suppose. If the heroine was saving the world and had to get somewhere to avert that, I could see this scene play out. But the heroine would not think, “It’s not my fault.” Rather, she would have been torn between the car going over the edge and her mission. She would have frantically phoned someone else to help the people in the car that was going over the edge as she kept going. She would have tried.
As writers we’re in people’s heads. And no one is a villain in their own head, are they?