I love a flawed hero. There’s nothing more powerful to drag me into a story than a character who lives in the moral gray zone between good and bad. I recently read two books that helped me come to this realization, “The Final Formula” by Becca Andre and “The Long Way Down” by Craig Schaefer. Be warned, both of these books are the first installments in series that will NOT let you go. Begin reading at your own peril and be prepared to neglect any day-to-day responsibilities you may have.
So. The main character in “The Final Formula” is Addie, a master alchemist with no memories of her past prior to the day her home was reduced to rubble in a fiery explosion. The book follows Addie as she tries to figure out who destroyed her home and why, and most importantly, who she is. Or was. A big question Ms. Andre leaves with the reader is, can a person really change? I like to think so. What do you think?
The main character in “The Long Way Down” is Daniel Faust, “a sorcerer for hire and ex-gangster who uses black magic and bullets to solve his clients’ problems (Schaefer).” Here we have a more blatantly flawed hero. He’s a guy with a damaged past and a demon lover, and he’s definitely not afraid to get his hands dirty for a stack of green. He tries to do right by the underdogs and the victims of a harsh world, but he also comes to realize that right is often a matter of perspective. Even so, Faust has no qualms about taking on the tasks of judge, jury, and executioner.
Neither of these characters is perfect. Far from it in fact. But they certainly do try to do right by the world, fighting tooth and nail for the people they love and for what they believe in. Character flaws not only make them far more interesting to read about, but I believe that they also make the characters more accessible and relatable to readers. Who wants to read about Mr. and Ms. Perfect? I’d feel like I was being lectured on decency and propriety the whole time. No thank you!
Imperfect heroes are real. Imperfect heroes could very well be me or you or that customer service operator you spoke with on the phone last week. Perfect heroes? Nah, they don’t exist. Give me human. Give me imperfect.