The Dashing & Smashing 2016 Character Awards

December 28, 2016

At the end of the year, everyone is putting together their compilation posts. Best of this, favorite of that, etc. etc. etc. But who is talking about the characters in the book? very few people! When I saw this tag by Cait @ Paper Fury (through Evelina @ Avalinah’s Books), I knew I had to do it.

Please note: Most of the books I read this year were not published in 2016. These awards are to honor those characters I met and loved throughout my reading exploits this year. And these characters totally deserve it.

All title links are to Goodreads. Add these books to your TBR if you haven’t read them yet!

Without further ado:


(Man, Cait is amazing at photos and graphics. I could learn a thing or two from her… 100% credit for this image goes to her – I could not make something so pretty. … … Yet.)


Most Relatable Character


from Princess Academy by Shannon Hale


Miri is a headstrong young girl who just wants to take part in her culture’s traditions– instead of being forced into a silly “princess academy” and be groomed as a potential bride-to-be for the Prince. I adore Miri. I can relate to her passion and frustration. I adore how she turns to books and stays true to herself. Plus, I remember what it was like to be the “teacher’s pet” (although, in both of our cases, accidentally) and how hard it was to make friends. <3 you, Miri. 14-year-old Jackie is totally you.

Most Pure and Precious Animal Companion


from Marvel’s The Wizard of Oz Omnibus by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, original L. Frank Baum

wizard-of-oz-toto-2  wizard-of-oz-toto-3

Typically, Toto would not be my choice. There are so many amazing animal companions in the books I’ve read this year. But this Toto is the absolutely sassiest. I mean, look at his adorable mustachio! He is sassy, adorable, and rolls his eyes at the stupidity of the crew he rolls with. He is my hero.

Honorable Mention goes to Old Dan and Little Ann from Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

Fiercest Fighter

Jake Brigance

from A Time to Kill by John Grisham

a time to kill

I spent a long time thinking about this answer. I’ve read a lot of science fiction and fantasy this year. I considered many physical fighters at first. But, I think the battle of mental fortitude is far more challenging in the long run. Jake Brigance has a stick-to-it-ness unlike most characters I’ve read. He refuses to give up on his scruples, even after many terrible things happen to him on the journey to defend Carl Lee Hailey. This case is morally ambiguous, but Brigance has his own moral code and sticks to it. He is to be commended for fighting tooth and nail.

Death by Tsundoku – A Time to Kill Book Review


Most Amazing Sidekick


from The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig


Bee is a literal sidekick. She is the First Mate of the Temptation. But that isn’t what makes her amazing. Bee is a Na’ath, an ex-cattle herder from Sudan. Her wife Ayen died before they joined the crew. “They” because in accordance with Bee’s beliefs, Ayen continues to travel with her as her “ghost wife”. Bee constantly blames Ayen for silly, trivial things, but these interactions make her brilliant and memorable. She has long since acted as a bit of a mother to Nix, so her wonderful sage advice is also appreciated.

Death by Tsundoku – The Girl From Everywhere book review


One You’re Surprised You Loved

Dawsey Adams

from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Dawsey Adams is a quiet pig farmer on the island of Guernsey, and avid reader. It’s his character who really connection Juliet Ashton with the island and kicks off the story. I honestly expected him to be an impetus for the plot and to vanish in the background. But, has the story grew, so did his character. He is quiet and incredibly timid. But, with the development of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Dawsey has a chance to grow out of his shell. As he developed as a character, I grew to like him. He is wonderful.

Death by Tsundoku – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book review


Best Sassmaster

Fermin Romero de Torres

from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind

This was a hard one for me. There are so many sassy characters in the books I read! Yet, one must be acknowledged above all others. Fermin is a down-on-his-luck citizen who becomes, well, adopted of sorts, by the protagonist and his father. Fermin is a fully-grown adult who comes back into himself through a job. No longer a hobo, Fermin becomes a hilarious, witty, verbose, tramp-cum-philosopher, whose unique perspective provides pearls of wisdom which manage to coat the most sordid sentiments in ornate vernacular. He is a diamond in the rough; an absolutely irreplaceable sassmaster.

Death by Tsundoku – The Shadow of the Wind book review


Best Anti-Hero and Morally Grey Grape


…in the Red Rising trilogy

Red Rising

No kidding. This trilogy is a sci-fi dystopian political action adventure novel. There is so much backstabbing and flip-flopping you can never figure out who to trust or believe in. Well, with a few minor exceptions. I spent a long time trying to decide on a single character, but in the end, I went with all of them. Seriously, I can’t predict these people. I’m confused just writing about it.

Death by Tsundoku – Red Rising book review


Best Worst Villian to Hate


from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness


I have never run into a more unbelievable villain. This dude is COMPLETELY off his rocker. I don’t understand his motivations or even the words he is saying most of the time. He’s like the energizer bunny of evil. It’s super weird. Make it stop.

Death by Tsundoku – The Knife of Never Letting Go book review


Truly Astounding Worst YA Parents

Evie O’Neill’s Parents

from The Diviners by Libba Brey

the diviners

Seriously. What parents, after learning their daughter causes a huge ruckus at a party, send their daughter off to spend a 1920’s summer in New York City with a childless uncle married to his work?! It’s obvious from the beginning they just don’t want to deal with Evie, so they send her off. Never do they check in on her, never do they seem to follow up with the potentially nut-job uncle who is now responsible for a delinquent teenager. I’m certain she won’t find her way into speakeasies. <eye roll>

Death by Tsundoku – The Diviners book review


Truly Astounding Best YA Parents

Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana’s Parents

from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz


These two sets of parents certainly are NOT perfect. Both of them have their own struggles, for sure. But the amazing thing about these sets of parents is that they are their own distinct characters. Rarely are parents so clearly defined in YA, let alone allowed character development! Ari and Dante’s parents grew with them throughout this book. They even grew to become each other’s friends. They accept the flaws of their sons, as well as of each other. Just amazing parents.

Death by Tsundoku – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe book review


Toot Toot! Best Ship of Then All

Oree Shoth and Madding

from The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin


I love this relationship because it’s the healthiest one I think I’ve read this year. Yes, Oree is a blind human artisan and Madding is a minor godling– but that doesn’t mean that they can’t respect each other! These two talk to each other like equals, respect the opinion of the other, and even have healthy conversations about their feelings on the regular. Yup. Love them.

Honorable Mention to Libby and Drew from What’s A Soulmate? by Lindsay Ouimet.

Death by Tsundoku – What’s A Soulmate? book review


The Most In Need of Protection

Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse

from A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare


Dromio of Ephesus is constantly being beaten by his master and mistress. Dromio of Syracuse is beaten less, but confused more. Both of these men are completely flummoxed by the misunderstandings taking place during this sidesplitting comedy and find themselves beaten, yelled at, jailed, confused, terrified, and running around on endless errands. They really could use just a tiny bit of help to stop messing everything up. As slaves, they are just constantly taking the beatings for all the misfortunes of the script. Honestly, these two really also need saving from themselves.


Most Boring as a Barnacle

Flora 717

from The Bees by Laline Paull

The Bees

The whole book I was waiting for something significant to happen to Flora 717. Instead, she just existed. I guess, towards the end of the novel, things started to happen around her and she reacted. But all in all, this was just a long allegory I wasn’t engaged in. Yawn fest.

Death by Tsundoku – The Bees book review


Best Little Royal

Dovasary Balitang

from Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce


Dovasary and her sister, Saraiyu are technically not crowned. But, they are the only living descendants of the raka ancient ruling family of Haiming. Where Sarai is outspoken, passionate, and sharp, Dove is quiet, patient, and kind. She stays out of the way as a member of an important upper-class family, but she does not forget the others around her. Dove’s kindness towards the people who work for her makes her exemplary. I just adore her. Plus, she has a sassy streak in her too. <3

Death by Tsundoku – Trickster’s Choice book review


Very Surprised You’re Still Alive

Mark Watney

from The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian

Mark Watney is an astronaut/botanist who is accidentally stranded on Mars. Seriously. I don’t think I need to say anything else.

Death by Tsundoku – The Martian book review


Best At Horrible Decision Making

Michael Flannery

from Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan


Mike. Mike Mike Mike. We all know you want to care for your little brother. But you’re old enough to understand sarcasm, to understand what people mean when they can’t be direct– to speak to people like an adult. You might only be 14, but seriously. You made a ton of terrible assumptions and poor decisions based on those assumptions. It’s a good thing there are good people in your life. Seriously.


Cutest Dork

Owen of Jesslaw

from the Protector of the Small quartet, first appearance in Page, by Tamora Pierce


Owen is Jesslaw is that youngster who is awkward, slow, and bullied. And yet he wants to be the greatest knight of the realm! Once Kel enters Owen’s life, he is completely smitten. And not romantically, he just admires her strength, bravery, wit, and honesty. Starting in Page Owen become something of a mascot. He respects Kel and does her bidding as a friend. But he is constantly frustrated by his inability to get ahead. He follows everyone around like a little puppy, and I just want to snuggle him and pat him on the head.


Cleverest Little Hellion


from Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


The theories I have about AIDAN. There is little I can say here without spoiling anything, sadly. AIDAN is the ship’s artificial intelligence, and I’ll just say: He is really good at understanding (and possibly manipulating) humans.

Death by Tsundoku – Illuminae book review


Most in Need of a Nap

Nicholas Flamel

from The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

The Alchemyst

Nicholas Flamel was born in 1330. According to record, he died in 1418. But, that was all a ruse. For over 700 years he has protected The Book of Abraham the Mage, aka the Codex, from the forces of evil. FOR 700 YEARS! The poor dude needs a break. I get exhausted just thinking about this.


Want to Read More About You


from Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Ella is by far the most intriguing ancillary character in a book I’ve read thus far. She isn’t really a sidekick, and while she is SUPER sassy, there is much more to her than this. A disabled girl who enables herself by becoming a sassy hacker? Heck yes! I think Ella could easily have her own spin-off book(s) or be a major character in the final book of the series. She is THAT cool. I adore her. And this darn book made me cry repeatedly over her. Stupid feels.

Death by Tsundoku – Gemina book review


What do you think?

  • Do you agree with any of my awards?
  • Do you disagree with any of my awards? Who would you award these to instead?
  • What important characters from these books did I miss out on?


  • YAandWine December 28, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Great list! A couple of these are actually on my January TBR list. We’re reading Aristotle and Dante for book club, and I’m so stoked for that discussion!

    • Jackie B December 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      That’s awesome! I love book club discussions. One of my 2017 goals is to get more discussion questions posted on my blog to encourage more face-to-face bookish interactions. Let me know how your Aristotle and Dante discussion goes, and if I can help out. πŸ™‚
      Thanks for posting, Krysti– I look forward to hearing what pairings you have for the books above which are on your TBR.

      • YAandWine December 30, 2016 at 7:58 am

        I am ALWAYS up for discussion question ideas! I would love any recommendations you have!

  • Laila@BigReadingLife December 28, 2016 at 10:49 am

    That’s a fun take on a 2016 “Best Of” list!

    • Jackie B December 29, 2016 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks! It was a ton of fun, and strangely time consuming. I probably put too much thought into it…. O_o But I’m glad I did it!

  • AvalinahsBooks December 28, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Ha! My first pingback! Took me FOREVER to figure out what it even was! πŸ˜€

    Thanks for linking my blog up, and it’s so cool you did this!

    So nice that you put the links for GR on your book references. I should really start doing this. I have not been bothering. Just a next step in becomming a better blogger, I guess πŸ™‚

    And I’m also bad at visuals. It’s really a great thing there’s – I wouldn’t fate at all otherwise πŸ˜€

    So now let’s get to the books. I have had Princess Academy marked on my TBR for quite a while, but I don’t have it yet πŸ™‚ it’s a book I’ve been looking forward to though! And the dog is very sassy and cute indeed πŸ˜€ I have actually read the potato peel society book, but it was such a light one and I read it like 3 years ago. It’s all gone πŸ˜€ did you enjoy The Shadow Of The Wind though? I remember I found that book utterly boring, distasteful and everything else of the sort, which basically adds up to 2 stars and no more. I am always surprised when people find this book readable at all. So disappointing too, cause it was partly about books and libraries as well. Sigh. However! Fermin has got to be about the only character from the book I remember, and I do agree to your nomination. He was a great character. As for the Martian, if I had not read Illuminae recently, you’re right, it would have been Mark πŸ˜€ THAT BOOK. You can’t decide whether it’s unrealistic or just optimistic πŸ˜€ it rocked, though. Actually, that’s the book that pushed me to look for books on NetGalley more – when I read that people actually got it on NetGalley first, and it was sort of a hidden gem, before it got big. That’s when I realized you CAN get early and free peeks at AMAZING books, you just have to find them! Which was an amazing idea. Fast forward a year later and Evelina is stuck with over 50 NetGalley ARCs. Ouchie.
    As for the other ones, haven’t read them (or haven’t read them yet). The Alchemyst is a book my mom keeps talking about, especially because she burned through 5 of the existing books and is constantly fuming about the fact that the 6th one is failing to be published in Lithuanian for over a year or more, and doens’t seem to be planned – a fact she finds atrocious, evil and plain, well, stupid. Haha πŸ˜€ (unfortunately, she can only read in our native language). Ah, the evils of book publishing fails.

    • Jackie B December 30, 2016 at 12:07 am

      Yay! I’m so glad it worked! Sometimes, my Pingbacks don’t work for some reason. Silly WordPress.

      I look forward to your future review of Princess Academy. The title is actually the most deceiving part about the book– it’s brilliant.

      I *adored* The Shadow of the Wind! Now, I have no idea how much my translation affected me. I obviously read it in English. Did you? Or did you read it in Lithuanian? The translation probably has a ton to do with this. I felt like it is a beautifully written and magical story. I’m sorry you didn’t feel the same– but that’s why we read and share our opinions! I can’t be friends with only people who like the same books I do. πŸ™‚

      I did also read Illuminae and Gemina this year– I totally agree with you that Kady is running for her life! However, I didn’t want to copy your answers. πŸ˜‰ She and Mark Watney are just experiencing completely different sorts of terrors. I know I wouldn’t make it as either of them. Seriously– how are they both still alive? (Spoilers)

      • AvalinahsBooks December 30, 2016 at 7:18 am

        That might have been the thing. I read most of my books in English, but I got that one from the library, so it was translated to Lithuanian. It could have been part of it. But I also remember rolling my eyes a lot at their “love story” which just seemed cheap to me. It didn’t engage me at all. I was disappointed πŸ™ but yes, you’re right, the translation could have A LOT to do with it. I have found that I rarely enjoy books by Spanish speaking authors though. They do tend to have that… style, always something in common, doesn’t even matter if they’re from different ends of the world. Just the long, unbroken sentences and overly descriptive modifiers. I don’t particularly enjoy it. But hmm, yes, it didn’t feel beautifully written at all. Maybe it is a lot about the translation in this case.
        Aah, for me though it wasn’t Kady πŸ™‚ at least they TOLD us how Kady survived (mostly). But how did Ezra??? Nobody told us. Nobody explained. One moment he’s dead, 30 pages later he’s suddenly alive. God knows how :0

        • Jackie B December 30, 2016 at 9:56 pm

          Hahaha– you are soooo right. Spanish authors have tons of descriptive modifiers. I enjoy listening to them read to me in many cases. For example, I loved listening to Like Water For Chocolate on audiobook. The language really captured me.

          I never really stopped to think about Ezra’s survival… Doesn’t AIDAN save him somehow? Well, if I forget, I obviously need to re-read that book. Ezra shouldn’t have survived either, but Kady’s 8 billion near-death experiences were just unbelievable. In the best way. I mean, I was never detracted from the story. But retrospectively, completely unbelievable.

          • AvalinahsBooks December 31, 2016 at 4:32 am

            Oh, I still have to read the Chocolate one. I’ve been stalking it in the library every since singing up on Goodreads. That would be since 2012. Now in retrospect, I don’t think I’m ever going to get it xD
            As for Ezra, THAT’S THE THING. Nothing is ever said. Nothing ever mentioned about how actually Ezra survives. All AIDAN did was pretend to be Ezra. That bothered me -.- maybe I missed something..?
            As for Kady, yes – the radiation was completely off the charts πŸ˜€ I wasn’t expecting for that to be curable at all. But yeah, I think that was meant to be that way. It’s not a tense fast-paced sci-fi story for nothing. Nobody’s really expecting it to be realistic.

            • Jackie B January 6, 2017 at 8:26 am

              I just started reading it for a book club– I can’t wait to dig back into it again a few years later. I imagine I will have new things to learn from Like Water for Chocolate the second time.

              Hm. I feel like Ezra explained how he survived when they are reunited, but I could also be wrong. Darn, an excuse to re-read Illuminae. I’m so upset. XD Illuminae wasn’t realistic, but it was an amazing story. As long as I don’t dissect it too much, I will always enjoy it. πŸ™‚

  • Birdie December 28, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Brilliant choice for Anti-Hero!

    • Jackie B December 29, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks, Birdie! I went back and forth on so many characters from Red Rising I finally had to give up and just pick them all. Some are certainly worse than others overall, but what fun would it be to try to pick the *most* anti-hero? πŸ˜‰

      • Birdie December 30, 2016 at 8:39 am

        Ha! Especially because they were all shades of grey.

  • whatthelog December 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    OMG you have some awesome books on here!! I recently read Illuminae and I’m very excited by all your comments about Gemina πŸ˜€

    • Jackie B December 29, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks, Wendy! It was really nice for me to see such a variety of books in my Read list for 2016, as well. Seeing everyone’s year-in-review posts has drastically increased my TBR. Oops! I can’t wait to read your reviews on Illuminae and Gemina. Everyone has very strong opinions on these books. I look forward to hearing yours.

  • Anna @MyBookishDream December 29, 2016 at 3:42 am

    I totally agree about Evie’s Parents, they were seriously terrible. And Ari and Dante’s parents were amazing! They had their flaws and struggles, yet they were always there for their children. I loved them! πŸ˜€

    • Jackie B December 29, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      Those were the hardest questions for me to answer, honestly. I spent a long time thinking about these. I recall more parents from the non-YA books I read than the YA ones. In fact, memoirs typically have the worst parents. O_o Reality bites, I guess.
      Thanks for commenting, Anna! I appreciate your participation. πŸ™‚

  • ifitsnotbaroque December 29, 2016 at 7:26 am

    The only end-of list I need. Love it!
    Yay Fermin!!

    • Jackie B December 29, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you, Kelsey! That means a lot to me. πŸ™‚ I was so excited to pick Fermin! I honestly went through the whole list of prompts first to figure out which award he should receive. πŸ˜€

  • LizScanlon December 29, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I love this tag… and it makes me weep inside a bit because there are s many books listed by you I want to read now! πŸ˜€

    • Jackie B December 30, 2016 at 12:08 am

      Thanks, Liz! That means a lot to me coming from you. We just keep feeding each other’s TBRs. It’s an endless quest.

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom January 3, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Loved this post Jackie! I agree I haven’t seen many Best Characters of 2016 posts!

    I absolutely loved the character Fermin from The Shadow of the Wind! He would have won my best funny sidekick award for sure!

    I hands down agree with your best parents award! The two sets of parents in Ari and Dante were so refreshing to see in a YA book.

    • Jackie B January 6, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Thanks, Amanda! I’m glad this was a bit on the unique side. πŸ™‚ It was challenging to come up with the worst YA parents, but Ari and Dante’s parents required no second thought, just like Fermin! I think this was a good exercise in remembering my favorite books from the year. There were so many I might have forgotten completely!

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