July 22nd, 2009

e looking into distance

Middlings on chemistry...

So after seeing Half-Blood Prince and being mildly appalled at the complete lack of chemistry between Harry and Ginny (ack), I started thinking about what makes good chemistry, in the first place. Of course, imo, the chemistry between Harry and Ginny was lacking in the books, as well.

But I have, of course, read books where chemistry really works. First off, I think about what makes good chemistry, for me -- my definition, I guess you'd say. There's plain old sexual tension (which is always fun), but there's also romance, and for me, that's the whole package -- friendship, sexual tension, physical and emotional attraction.

Some book relationships which I think are excellent in the chemistry department:

1) Anne and Gilbert -- they begin with a wary friendship which develops to a true friendship which then moves to romantic interest and love.

2) Daine and Numair (IMMORTALS quartet by Tammy Pierce) -- Daine leans on Numair as her teacher at first; then they are friends (though she already has glimmers of what will be, I think); and then he realizes the inevitable and BAM! :)

3) Pretty much everything Mary Stewart wrote (ha) -- she's done it all: the irritable antagonism which arises from sexual tension (and turns into romantic love); the slow growth through friendship to love; and the relationship where the woman is certain they've lost the love, even though she still wants it (and eventually she learns he does too).

4) Kat and Duncan (BY THE HIGHWAY HOME, by Mary Stolz) -- their romance isn't the focus of the book, but it's slow and gentle and very poignant, imo.

5) Norma Johnston is another who I think is quite good with chemistry -- each of her books looks at different types of teenage love, and some are more physical attraction (and chemistry) which fizzle, and others are more about the deep and abiding love (which includes attraction and chemistry).

I think, for me, chemistry (and romance) is about two people finding a bit of themselves in another person -- and finding something they lack there, as well. So perhaps the best chemistry in books involves the awareness of those aspects -- and this should be among same sex relationships (not necessarily romantic here), also. I think we choose our friends many times because of those parts of ourselves which they mirror combined with those aspects we wish we had -- kindred spirits, as Anne says.

What do you think? What is chemistry to you, and which books exhibit it the best?
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So I'm reading a couple of ARCs right now, and they're surprisingly similar as far as the very basic plots go -- both have female MCs (whose names are actually the same), both are traveling with at least one family member to a place they've never been, and both are from the same city and state (which isn't a common one, so that was interesting too).

The books open with both girls being rather unhappy about their lives -- both wanted to stay at home for the summer, rather than being dragged to another place...and here's where it gets interesting to me, as a reader and as a writer. One of them, we'll call her A, is completely unsympathetic to me. She's whiny, she's self-centered, she's rude -- I can't stand her. I'm kind of skimming the book right now, because I want to try to give it a chance, but I'm so annoyed by A that I can hardly stand it.

The other one, B, is also unhappy. She's also had some inner dialogue which is witchy and sarcastic, and she also blames her parents for her situation -- but something about her overcomes all that. And I have to wonder, what is it? Why are these two characters, who are pretty similar in circumstances and basic characteristics, producing such different reactions in me?

I just finished B's story, and I really like her. I like her humor (A is also funny, with the same sarcastic humor, but she still is soooo selfish I want to slap her), I like her willingness to change and grow. I just like her. A...not so much (not at all) -- she's also growing (kind of), but her continued self-centered behavior really turned me off. The thing is, both girls start out that way, but for some reason, I wasn't turned off to B, even from the very beginning.

What do you think? Why is the one coming across so differently than the other? Have you ever noticed situations like this before?

P.S. I've read another book by the author of A, and honestly, I didn't like that MC much, either -- and for many of the same reasons. Truth be told, it's a little irritating to read books like this -- which are published -- when the MC is so annoying.