Top Five Character-Driven Books I Read In 2021

Hello everyone,

My look back on what I have read in 2021 continues here with the five most character-driven books. I find this a really fun and unique category, as it makes me reflect on certain books in a slightly different way than what I did at the time.

There are few things better than building a connection with a particular narrator or set of characters. When complimented by a good plot, it really adds to the experience of reading the book to see the world through their compelling eyes.

And as this list demonstrates, books can be character-driven in several different ways, from dedicated portraits to the emerging strength of personality. Let’s get to it!

Luck Of The Titanic by Stacey Lee

One of the things I have loved about this book is that it revolves around a fascinating sibling relationship, using the true story of the Titanic’s sinking as an effective backdrop. The narrator Valora Luck is a vibrant character and that really shines through in the way her perspective is written, while she and her brother Jamie are both very well developed, with themes such as historical context adding further depth.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

This is the very definition of character-driven. It is a book all about the women of the Trojan War, from the most renowned to the perennially forgotten, and each one of them is given the focus and attention they deserve. Furthermore, Natalie Haynes brings them all to life, giving them thoughts and feelings, reclaiming them from their long-held existence as footnotes in male-dominated stories.

The Six Of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

There is a reason why this duology is best known for its characters rather than the plot or the admittedly sensational world-building. I have rarely seen two books that place such an emphasis on the development of characters, with each of them given lengthy backstories at various points along the way. They are all complex and so richly defined, spearheaded by the truly one-of-a-kind Kaz Brekker.

Daisy Jones And The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This remarkable book is ALL about the characters. It is told in the form of a series of documentary-style testimonies, and through those, the sheer force of their personalities is laid bare. Daisy Jones herself is a chaotic, free-spirited character while Billy Dunne is flawed yet imminently likeable, but absolutely everyone in the book has a fascinating story to tell. They are all so authentic, and the outcome is something close to perfection.

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker

The title of this book really expresses that the two main characters are right at the centre of it. They are two fantastical creatures who you do not often see represented in fiction, and that immediately creates a sense of intrigue. Even better, they are given such unique and contrasting personalities that when they eventually meet, the dynamic they share is arresting. Very different, but at the same time, equals in an unfamiliar society.

Have you read any of these books? What are your most character-driven reads of 2021? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading 🙂

9 thoughts on “Top Five Character-Driven Books I Read In 2021

  1. I’m so glad to hear A Thousand Ships has good character development. I have been meaning to read it for a while and that definitely encourages me to pick it up. oohh… I’m even more curious about The Golem and The Jinni now, the characters sounds fascinating! I have read Daisy Jones and I did love how the flaws of the character were so central to the story, I will be curious to see how the TV show presents them. Great post, I love hearing about character-driven stories. 💛


    1. There are lots of different characters and POVs in A Thousand Ships, but they are all given a lot of depth and respect, even those who only appear in one chapter. I hope you enjoy that and The Golem and the Jinni! I’ll be interested in seeing the Daisy Jones and the Six TV show as well. Thank you so much, Sophie! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve got some great reads here! I’ve been planning a re-read of the SoC duology and I think next year will definitely be the time for it. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! I also loved Daisy Jones and glad you enjoyed that one too! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

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