What Characteristics Engage Me in a Story?

I swear this isn’t exclusively a book blog.  I’ve just started an Audible subscription a few months ago, and have been reading like a mad woman.  I’ve seen a lot of people say they prefer to add their own voice when they’re reading, but for me that doesn’t really matter.  If I’m reading an Ebook, or a book in a PDF, my screen reader is doing the reading.  So instead of being able to make my own voice in my head, a robotic voice is reading the text quickly to me.  Between that, or having a human being perform the book like it’s a play, and having voices for the characters pre-made and stuff, I’ll take the Audio Book any day.  There are a few exceptions, like if there is an audio book narrator that bores me to tears, so much so that I can’t finish the book, then I’ll default to my screen reader doing the reading.  One thing that’s majorly annoying, though, is the main Ebook hub is Amazon Kindle, right?  Well instead of allowing me to use NVDA’s screen reading voice, it uses the horrible Microsoft narrator one!  Have you ever heard the Microsoft narrator voice?  If not, go turn on Narrator in the Windows settings if you have a PC, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  That voice gives me a freaking headache.  So for me at least, reading Kindle books is out.  I guess I coooud get used to it, but I’d rather not spend money on a book I won’t read because I can’t stand the narrator voice.


That tangent aside, I did something that I don’t usually do.  I read the first Throne of Glass book, and then Audible sent me an email for a sale.  First book in the series is 4.99!  As a book fanatic I couldn’t pass that up (I’m terrible at digital impulse buys) and bought a book in my wish list that I’ve been dying to read:  Nice Dragons Finish Last, by Rachel Aaron.  I use Audible like a library, more or less:  browse the digital book shelves for interesting looking titles, then click on the books that interest me and read the summary.  If it interests me, I click on the preview to see if I like the narrator and the writing, and when I did that for Nice Dragons I was instantly captivated by the humorous voice of the author, along with the interesting characters.
My second tangent aside, what I usually don’t do is start one series before finishing the one I had already started.  I like to read series books in a row, because I like to get the full story in a continuous motion:  part of the reason why I like to binge watch a series instead of watching week to week.  So when I finished Nice Dragons Finish Last, I had planned to purchase Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass Book 2) but after finishing it, I had a dilemma.  I was really into Nice Dragons Finish Last!
So that got me thinking:  what made me like Nice Dragons more than Throne of Glass?  I liked Throne of Glass, it was a great read.  But there was something about Throne of Glass that made me not mind not continuing it right away.  Nice Dragons Finish Last, while being a slower read for me (I read five chapters of that a day, while I read one of Nice Dragons – although those chapters were far longer) in the end, Nice Dragons got me to want to read onto the next book in the series right away, while Throne of Glass, I don’t mind waiting to finish up.  That got me thinking:  What draws me into a story?  So let’s break this down after that very lengthy introduction!



I know for me, characters outweigh good plot.  A plot can be generic and overdone because let’s face it, every plot has been done before.  But what I read a book for, or engage in any story for, is good characters.  While the characters in Throne of Glass were really fleshed out and well done, the characters in Nice Dragons Finish Last were quirky, adorable, fleshed out, and so entertaining.  Reading Nice Dragons was like reading a sitcom, it was just so much fun and so funny.  I read the first half slowly (for me, which is in about a week) but the second half?  It picked up, and I read it in one night.  That wasn’t because of the plot, it was because of the characters.  Even the ones you dislike, you still like to a degree and everyone is really fun, even the side characters.  Throne of Glass had that sometimes, but other than Celaena who is amazing, the other characters stuck pretty well to their archetypes.  I’m not saying that’s bad, by any means:  I still enjoyed visiting with them, and will enjoy visiting with them again.  But for a full cast of amazing characters that I hope will grow in its second book, Nice Dragons Finish Last wins in this category.
For the world building too, I think Nice Dragons wins by a landslide.  It’s such an interesting setting!  I’m not a huge urban fantasy fan, but this is like, an urban fantasy with magic, and dystopia, and dragons!  It all merges together into something you think wouldn’t work, but it totally does.  A meteor hit the earth a few decades before the story began, and brought magic back into the world.  So it’s commonplace, and me being a majorly obsessed with magic fantasy fan, I ate this up with a spoon.
Once again, Throne of Glass’ setting isn’t bad by any means.  But what it is, is a typical fantasy world, with magic, and tyrannical Kings, and oppression and I think you get the jist.  It’s a Game of Thrones that I actually can read, so that’s saying something because I find epic fantasy to be too long and drawn out (sorry to any epic fantasy fans).  But once again, I attribute that more to Celaena than anything else.  She’s really the driving force of enjoying Throne of Glass for me.


After writing all of that out, I think I see why I decided to read Nice Dragons sequel over Throne of Glass’.  At their cores, both stories are good, but in the end Nice Dragons Finish Last offers more to me as a reader than Throne of Glass does.  Like I said earlier, Nice Dragons is a light, fun read that read like a sitcom, or dramedy and is really easy to get through. I enjoyed reading Throne of Glass, but it took me a lot longer to read it.  I kept on stop-start reading it over the month of February, and when I really enjoy a book, I can finish it in a week or less.  I’m still going to finish the Throne of Glass series, but after I read all three books in the Heartstrikers series.  I just have to know what happens next in those, where learning what happens next to Celaena will be interesting, but isn’t a priority of mine.
I’m glad I figured that out after writing that novel of a post!  I’d love to know:  what draws you into a story, or series?

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