I haven't had a whole lot of time for personal reading the past week or so, but last night I finished Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. Overall, I liked the story a lot (there were some things the characters said that I found more profound than most adults are capable of, let alone teenagers, but otherwise two thumbs up.)
It wasn't the type of story line I would usually think to pick-up for myself, but I wound up totally enjoying it. The reason why, I realized, is because I developed a crush on the male character. So what if he was only seventeen and a gang member? He was also really smart, with a good heart, and only part of the gang because he was trying to protect his family & keep his younger brothers out of trouble, and then he fell head over heels for the girl from the right side of the tracks and ... ahem, sorry.
Anyway, it got me to thinking about most of the books that I consider to be my favorites. The reads that I enjoy so much I take the time to tell other people about them. The stories I still remember long after I've finished reading. Of course, good writing & excellent story telling are key components, but I've come to learn (for me) there HAS to be something else. It doesn't matter what genre it is, but in order for me to LOVE a book it has to have one of the following ingredients:
1) I have to fall in love with the male MC
2) I have to want to be - or be friends with - the female MC
If a story can make me do BOTH at the same time, I'm guaranteed to love it!
I went back over the list of some of my favorite books to see if my theory holds true:
Pride & Prejudice : Lizzy is plucky and easy to admire, but really it's Mr. Darcy who makes me swoon at the end.
New Moon : I don't really like Bella, but I'm so crazy about Jacob Black that I'm willing to overlook the fact that he's only sixteen ... and a werewolf.
Vampire Academy Series : Rose is so snarky, I can't help but adore her. However it is her seriously sexy Russian mentor, Dimitri, that keeps me turning pages well into the night.
Those are just a couple examples (I didn't really think it would be appreciated if I listed every book I ever really enjoyed & why).
I wonder if this is just me, or if others tend to feel this way too. If developing crushes on characters is a common theme to really enjoying a good book, it could explain why women make up the larger percentage of fiction readers. Not that men can't do it (I've heard more than one guy admit to being smitten with Hermoine from Harry Potter), but they're more likely to need the action first & the affection will come with time.
Anyway, do you all find yourself developing crushes on the heroes & heroines in the stories you read? If not, what is the leading factor that draws you in and makes a really good book stand out from the rest?