Why is it, exactly, some books are merely okay, while others you cannot put down to save your life? I’ve been pondering this question for a while. Is it the story? The characters? What? Why is To Kill a Mockingbird still one of the best stories ever told? What sort of magic has Stephanie Meyer tapped into when she wrote her Twilight series? Why can’t I stop chuckling every time I pick up my copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms? Okay, that last book is not a novel, but a rather hilarious glimpse into the world of romance writing. Still, I am moved to tears with reading the blasted book.
One of my favorite things to do when reading a “keeper” book is to try and figure out why it worked so well. Recently, I read Gaelen Foley’s My Wicked Marquess and knew within the first ten pages this book would stay with me to the grave. So, the first thing a “keeper” book must have is a good opening. Of course, having an interesting plot is a must as well. Just one look at the following blurb and you know there’s no boring stuff going on inside Eclipse:
As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob—knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?
I feel, and others may disagree, that the characters are the most important part of a story. I have to care about them. They pull me into the story and make me keep reading. I must feel for them when they go through the harrowing journey of falling in love. I must laugh when they say something funny; I must cry when their world comes crashing down around them; I must be moved to tears when they finally figure it out. Something about the characters must stir my soul, where I have to keep turning the page to find out what happens to them. Then, when the last page is read, I must be spitting mad that I can’t read more. With a “keeper” book, I continue to think about the characters long after the book is put down. I must wonder what they were like when their children had children and what happened as they grew old. Do you ever wonder what Scout and Jem were like as adults? I do. For surely, those children lived and breathed and grew old, even if Harper Lee really did make them up.
Finally, I think a “keeper” book must beget more “keeper” books. We romance writers must be so moved with what we’ve read, we wish to write our own “keepers.” I am very interested in knowing what books you’ve read lately you would consider a “keeper” and why.