When I set out to write Altered, I wanted everyone to read it, and fall madly in love with the story as well as the characters. Of course I understood not everyone would like it, and I’ve come to understand that a lot of it has to do with chemistry. After all, I don’t love everything I read and when I leave a review for those books I may have liked, but not loved, there are always plenty of people reviewing how much they actually did love it.
As it turns out, there seems to be some very consistent comments about my two main characters, Liv and Nicholas. I haven’t read one single review where a disparaging remark has been made about Nicholas, even for those who didn’t love the story. Quite the contrary – Nicholas is universally loved and understood. Even though he certainly has flaws and he isn’t always forthcoming, somehow those shortcomings are forgiven and overlooked.
Liv doesn’t get off so easily though. Most relate she is selfish, annoying, and/or immature. There are even those who love the story, but don’t particularly care for Liv, or just tolerate her. A few “get” her and give her the benefit of the doubt, but not many.
I intentionally made Liv blissfully unaware of self – it was completely intentional. However I didn’t realize this would be such a problem for people. She is flawed (aren’t we all?) and she has been wronged considerably. Some acknowledge she had a terrible breakup and it probably affected her, but most thought she brought it upon herself. Perhaps. How many of us in our early 20s made decisions that we know we should have never made now that those years are firmly behind us? ::raises hand::
This isn’t a spoiler because it’s how the book is marketed, but Liv is engaged in the beginning of the story and her fiance breaks up with her a few months before the wedding. As it is, the timing of getting married probably wasn’t the greatest and the man she’d chosen to marry probably wasn’t the best choice, but again, she made some questionable decisions that she had to live with. She ends up paying for those decisions and because of this failed relationship, she develops some deep trust issues. I’m not sure why this isn’t an acceptable reaction.
She goes on to not trust her feelings where Nicholas is concerned and that seems to really piss some people off, both inside and outside the story. Her long suffering roommate, Julia, berates her on not being self-aware. Even her own mom gets in on the action. Readers don’t like this either. Perhaps they want an instalove situation which I’ve never been a big fan of. Or maybe they just don’t want her to cause Nicholas any pain.
The more I mull this over, the more I think I’ve found the crux of the problem – no one wants to see Nicholas unhappy. I can understand that – I love Nicholas just as much as the next person, and I want him to be blissfully happy as well. However I don’t dislike Liv because she doesn’t instantly want that too. And really, she does want his happiness, but she’s unsure if she can be the person who helps him in that area. Luckily for everyone, Nicholas assists Liv with this problem and guides her back to a place of trust. After all, he hasn’t always been in the best trust place either.
In the end, both Liv and Nicholas are flawed characters who face challenges and repercussions for the decisions they make. The fact that readers have a visceral reaction to Liv actually makes me happy because clearly they’ve become invested in the story. What more can I ask for?