Imagining Character Appearances

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I’ve had a little bit of a bad reading month. A lot has been going on and the book that i was reading at the time was taking me a while to get through, so that meant by the end of February all i wanted to do was curl up with a really good YA contemporary novel that would make me smile from ear to ear with how cutesy it is. So that’s exactly what i did.

I picked up A Quiet Kind Of Thunder by Sara Bernard after receiving it last weekend, and i figured it might just be the cute love story that i’m after. Although so far it definitely is making me smile ridiculously and occasionally do a happy little squeal, it had me thinking a little bit more about the characters and descriptions that are given about them in books.

Often in YA contemporary novels, i find that the characters have little description of appearance. There is sometimes a defining feature included, such as really green eyes, or dark skin, or whatever else. But other than that, there are no defining descriptions of characters. And to top it off, the descriptions we get are mostly of the male character. The protagonist (who is usually female, lets face it) often gets no description at all.

What i’m trying to get at is, i cannot be the only person out there that starts imagining these characters to all look the same? In my mind, Ollie from Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, looks exactly like Q from Paper Towns  by John Green. That’s because i’ve not got any true descriptions of these characters to go off and my mind magically conjures up the closest idea to a teenage boy it possible can.

Rhys from A Quiet Kind Of Thunder has turned in to this ‘classic’ image of a teenage boy for me. Yes he might actually look like that, however he probably doesn’t. As for Steffi, my mind constantly is changing on how she looks, what colour her hair is and if it’s straight or curly. If she’s fair skinned or olive, if she’s tall or short. I have no idea because there is no description of her.

I absolutely adore reading YA fiction, the contemporary novels are something that will definitely pick you up if you’re feeling down. However, more often than not, they leave you with less than memorable characters due to the lack of detail in the writing of them. All my contemporary characters have started blurring in to one, to the point i definitely won’t be able to tell you the names of them (even if i read their whole entire life story last month).

If there’s one thing that annoys me about YA contemporary, this is is. I’m getting bored of spending half my time reading trying to imagine what the characters look like together. Does anyone else get like this when it comes to contemporary?

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2 thoughts on “Imagining Character Appearances

  1. I know exactly what you mean! Sometimes I either get VERY specific images in my head of what they look like, or just some kind of vague idea that’s identical to everything else I’ve read. It’s so hard. I love a good character description, so I wish more authors would include them!


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