1. Characters with Similar Names in Different Books
This entire rant started because I inadvertently messed with my own head by reading the following 3 books back to back: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke, The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine, and Passenger by Alexandra Bracken.
All very different books, but with similar character names. See, there is a character in Wink Poppy Midnight named Mim and Mim is actually Wink's Mom. A minor character, but important because of who she is. She's a fortune teller with a calm persona that just kind of sits back and lets things happen which bothers me a lot but whatever. I pick up The Imposter Queen and there are very early mentions of Mim. Mim, who is not a mom, but a handmaiden that dotes on our main character and also acts as her secret crush / best friend. So very different from a mom yes? I was thrown off!
Then, later in The Imposter Queen I meet Oskar. Oskar is wow. He is a sexy hulking woodsman/hunter that is loyal to the core who eventually grows into the main character's love interest. I love this calm creature with deadly habits. Imagine my surprise when I meet Oskar (again with the exact same spelling!) in the book I pick up next, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, except this time he is an elderly and ailing man that served as a teacher to our violin prodigy main character.
I put the book down and immediately messaged Bekka about how I still have old Oskar in my head so it is hard to reconcile him with this new Oskar and she laughs before proceeding to ask me what I think about the book so far. My response? "I've only read two pages, this Oskar thing is really throwing me."
Really similar character names back to back just don't work out for easily distracted readers like myself.
2. Characters With Ridiculous Names That Make You Stop
I think all readers struggle from encountering really weird character names that make you scratch your head. As mentioned above, I hate encountering the same name over and over in a short time span, but I also hate it when authors dream up names so crazy that they are distracting in and of itself.
A few examples that immediately come up? Just look at Modelland by Tyra Banks, The Immortals by Alyson Noel, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
The main character's name in Modelland is Tookie...Tookie de la Creme. Yes. I am serious. No, I have not read this book. Why? Well, there's a multitude of reasons, but the first one is the fact that I would not be able to get past that terrible name! And Ever Bloom from The Immortals series. Are you serious? Ever Bloom? Let's get past the last name and realize that her first name is one of the most common exaggerations in the English language. Ever has the weirdest name ever! (Pun 100% intended). Every time I read it I had to pause and re-read to remind myself it is a name here and not an ordinary word.
But the best example of this is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I really enjoyed this series and was able to move past it all, but when I first picked up the book I found myself laughing because some names are so ridiculous. I mean, Marvel, Glimmer, Clove? Do I even need to list off anymore? I can if you want me to because that's how many ridiculous names are in this world. It gives you pause, doesn't it?
3. Characters With Names You Have to Figure Out How to Pronounce
There is nothing worse than reading and enjoying a book and then you encounter a name and you have to figure out how to say it. Odds are if you have to ask this question and look it up, that this is a ridiculously distracting thing. This doesn't mean the book is bad, but it does mean that you aren't making things easy for readers!
Some examples: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, and Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.
I love Throne of Glass, but when I first encountered Celaena's name it gave me serious pause because for the life of me I could not figure out how to say it! Aelin is so much easier, thank heavens. It's easier to figure out than Iolanthe, the main character of The Burning Sky. I haven't read this series yet, but every time I read the blurb I pause and just sit there like what? If anyone knows how to say this name, please tell me. I have absolutely no clue!
George R. R. Martin is also the king of making up names that are hard to pronounce. It took me forever to figure out how to say Cersei's name. It looks pretty, but it isn't easy to guess right off the bat.
The name you have to figure out how to pronounce trend is most common among fantasy novels. I am all for originality, but some names are just too distracting because they are impossible to figure out without a key. And, if you ask me, needing a key to understand a name is not that great of a sign to begin with.
I understand that naming characters is an art and giving them a name that does them justice is a hard task, but dang, can names be distracting! Does anyone else find themselves easily distracted by names? Do you have any examples that fall into any of the above categories? Share below! I think this could be a lot of fun!