Top 5 Characters in Contemporary Fiction

Top Five. Who’s on your list?

When I was growing up, I constantly had my head buried in a book (and not much has changed since then). Whether it was for school or pleasure, I always had to be reading something – so that meant I had a lot of favourite characters. They could change on a week to week basis, but looking back, I have had few literary heroes who have stuck with me, regularly making an appearance on my ‘favourites’ lists.

These are the top five contemporary characters that shaped my childhood, making me who I am today:

1.   Mia Thermopolis – The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Mia was my hero growing up. I mean what girl doesn’t want to suddenly discover they’re the heir to a small monarchy in Europe? But throughout the ten books she never got snobby and always felt relatable. I always wanted her to succeed and get her happy ending. New York also felt like this amazing alien place (to a ten year old that had never been to the US), and provided the perfect backdrop for this modern fairy tale.


2.    Blair Waldorf – Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

I know Serena is supposed to be the ‘it’ girl, but I was always more of a Blair fan. She’s more reserved than Serena but don’t let the immaculate exterior fool you: Blair is ambitious and will do what it takes to get what she wants. Sure she’s a spoilt, privileged Upper East Sider, but isn’t that half the fun? 


3.    Artemis Fowl – by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl was a breath of fresh air – a protagonist that wasn’t a ‘hero’, but was instead a criminal mastermind that spent the entire first book holding a fairy ransom. Eion Colfer managed to weave fantasy with the real world so seamlessly and I was hooked from the first book. Unfortunately further down the line Artemis gained a conscience, and I’ll admit I stopped reading them then.


4.    Violet Baudelaire – A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Violet was my other hero growing up. A voracious inventor that had to help her siblings escape the clutches of Count Olaf. She was a strong young woman that overcame so much within the thirteen books. I learned so much about being fearless and using your brain to get through difficult situations. I even started wearing a ribbon in my hair for a while because of her.

 And last by not least…

5.    Harry Potter – by J.K. Rowling

I couldn’t really talk about contemporary fiction without putting Harry Potter on it. Harry manages to traverse seven years on mostly ‘pure dumb luck’ and the help of his friends, and as prophesised manages to triumph against evil and usher in a new age of peace to the wizarding world. I know I was obsessed with the books as a child, and they spawned many an adventure pretending to be a witch going to Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling managed to capture the imagination of a whole generation of children, and now that we’re all grown up the next generation seems to be getting into it too.   

by Yage Nieuwmeijer