Top 5 Saturday is run by Amanda @ Devouring Books. Every week showcases 5 books that share a common theme. This week’s theme is Diverse Characters.
First things first, how do I define diversity? I always struggle with this. Does having one character who is different from everyone else mean the cast is diverse? Or does having almost all of the characters different from each other mean it’s diverse? I can think of some books, especially in fantasy, where most of the characters are human and one is a kind of creature. There are also books where a single character has some kind of disability or is part of a different group than what most consider to be the norm or what appears to be the norm in the book. Or does diverse characters refer to a world where all the characters are all from the same non-mainstream group of our own society?
There are more questions that rattle around my brain. Whenever I have to answer whether the cast is diverse, I really struggle. Some are easy to say a yes or no to. Others, well, I could go in circles making arguments. So, for the sake of making this easier on myself, I’m going with books where the diversity was an unqualified yes in my mind.
Descriptions from Amazon
Adventus by Andrew Mowere
The elf portal in Yotaku has opened in earnest. Moreover, another portal has opened in each of Jerr and Veld, respectively spewing orcs and dwarves into the realm. With millions of refugees simultaneously fleeing the destruction of their worlds, humanity’s leaders decide to hide the truth and send a joint mission with agents of all major nations.
Yuuto Aimaru, the observer, is chosen to represent Yotaku. This is the purpose for which he has been cruelly bred, a game of intrigue and trickery. Each country cares only to further its designs, and Yuuto is a spy well versed in deceit.
Would Yuuto do anything for his emperor and country?
Right away this one jumps out at me. The cast was purposefully designed to be different. After all, they’re a literal diverse group from various parts of the world going on a quest together. Initially wary of each other, they form the most beautiful friendship ever.
The Unfettered Child by Michael C. Sahd
Her tribe is shattered. Her parents are gone.When eight-year-old Samara faces the capture of her tribe, an unimaginable power awakens within her. Even as this magic threatens to consume her, a disembodied voice intervenes, offering guidance and helping her control these newfound abilities.Meanwhile, Samara’s father chases his wife’s captors across an unfamiliar terrain. But can Orin find his wife in time to save her? Will Samara learn to control her power and reunite with her family? And who is the mysterious entity traveling with her?
This one didn’t jump out quite as much, but it does focus on three main groups: Native American inspired, white, and elven. There are also some that appear to be based off the Roma. They helped paint a fascinating world with depth and color.
The Library of the Unwritten by AJ Hackwith
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.
A dead human, a fallen angel, a book character come to life, and a muse. They were all so different from each other in so many ways from species to sexuality to personalities. Somehow, they worked, and the second book, The Archive of the Forgotten, delved further into their relationships to draw them closer together.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her parent’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the constant questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
First of all, this book is just incredible. Second of all, it has one of the most amazing cast of characters ever. They’re all so alike and different. They’re of different ethnicities and sexual orientations and genders, but work so marvelously together I can’t help but be a little jealous of Grace and the people who love her.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time is one of literature’s greatest achievments in epic fantasy. It was written by the late Robert Jordan, and completed posthumously by his successor, Brandon Sanderson. Wheel of Time is a story that takes place both in our past and our future. In his fantasy world, the Dark One, the embodiment of pure evil, is breaking free from his prison. The overall plot is about a man who learns that he is the reincarnation of the world’s messiah and is once again destined to save the world from the Dark One — but possibly destroy it in the process. This saga is not only his story, but the story of an entire world’s struggle to deal with war and change, destruction and hope.
I have to admit, because I started reading these when I was 14, everyone kind of looked and sounded the same in my mind. But, as I grew older and read more about what other people thought of the books, I realized how incredibly huge and diverse the cast of characters is. It’s basically a whole, huge, fully contained world with characters inspired by many real cultures.
What are some books with diverse characters you’ve enjoyed?