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September 24, 2018 | by  | in Books | [ssba]

Books With Protagonists Our Age (That Don’t Suck)

Here at university we’re all about finding gaps in the literature, like the fact that there are barely any books with characters that are your average university goer’s age. What’s up with that? Characters that are too old to fall in love at first sight or defeat some evil overlord using previously undiscovered powers, but too young to have a midlife crisis or be a detective. We’re missing that sweet early 20s age range where the characters are mature enough that their actions are somewhat believable and yet their lives are still relatable. I have consulted some people who also read books, and here I present the pitiful fruits of our brainstorm.
The Secret History
by Donna Tartt – 4/5
I know this was reviewed a wee while ago and that the reviewer wasn’t a fan, but I am. This book centres around a group of college students who study classics, may or may not have murdered their buddy, and fit the criteria for my round-up. They’re relatable in that they remind you a bit of every arts student ever, unrelatable in that they’re all pretty awful human beings. The author paints a very surreal picture of life at a posh American college, and makes some pretty bizarre plot points seem almost normal. This book is clearly targeted at smarty pants people and I admit, some of the references went over my head, but I was hooked.
Rivers of London
by Ben Aaronovitch – 5/5
This book is the first instalment of a truly delightful series that centres around Peter Grant, a police constable/apprentice wizard in his early twenty-somethings. This book is a bewildering mash-up of urban-fantasy and murder-mystery. It’s quintessentially British, extremely nerdy, and straight up hilarious. After accidentally meeting a ghost and attempting to collect a witness statement, Peter’s dream of joining the murder squad is dashed when he’s instead apprenticed to the Met’s resident wizard. Though Peter’s age is never specified, he’s definitely a youngin’. His A-levels seem very fresh indeed, and at no point in the book does he experience a midlife crisis. Admittedly, he does discover some secret powers, and I assume this series will round up with him defeating an evil overlord, but sometimes you just can’t win.
by Rainbow Rowell – 5/5
Fanfiction has never been my jam, but I really enjoyed Rowell’s earlier novel, Eleanor & Park, so I gave this one a go. The protagonist of this book, Cath, is refreshingly relatable. Her experiences as a freshman at college ring true, and she behaves like a realistic, normal person. Cath feels thrown in the deep end at a college where she has no friends, and where her twin sister is pushing for some distance. This is a modern coming of age story that deals with some reasonably tough stuff, but isn’t too heavy. The characters are well rounded and believable, and the romantic subplot is adorable. This is an easy, well written read, with fanfiction-related plot points as that aren’t as off-putting as I expected. Still not my jam, but an understanding of fanfiction is not fundamental to enjoying this book.


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