Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic was a freebie, so I’ve chosen to highlight my favorite supporting characters in YA literature. There are plenty of top-notch protagonists and love interests out there, but five-star secondary characters are a little more rare. That being said, here are my top ten (well, really, 9, but pretend I was able to picks 10) supporting characters, in no particular order.
1. Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson – “Tiny Cooper is not the world’s gayest person, and he is not the world’s largest person, but I believe he may be the world’s largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.” This is how Will Grayson describes his best friend Tiny Cooper, the flamboyant, football-playing musical theater extraordinaire. Tiny is hilarious and loud and utterly unforgettable, which is why I love him.
2. Drew from The Sea of Tranquility – He may be a shameless ladies’ man with a terrible reputation and a myriad of flaws, but Drew is also funny, surprisingly sweet (deep, DEEP down), and undeniably entertaining. Plus, he’s a great foil for the wonderful Josh Bennett and Nastya Kashnikov; together, the three of them make The Sea of Tranquility a masterpiece.
3. Howie Gersten from the I Hunt Killers series – As a gangly, wise-cracking hemophiliac, Howie is probably the last person you’d expect to end up as sidekick to the son of an infamous serial killer. His loyalty, goofy sense of humor, and willingness to be an accomplice in Jazz Dent’s questionable – and usually illegal – schemes make him one of my favorite characters in the I Hunt Killers series.
4. Kenji Kishimoto from the Shatter Me series – Kenji provides some of the best banter in YA fiction. He’s always teasing, flirting, and poking fun at people, unable to be serious even when his life is in danger. Here’s just one of my favorite Kenji quotes:
“Hey, um, I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m looking for a friend of mine,” he says. “Have you seen her? She’s a tiny little thing, cries a lot, spends too much time with her feelings-”
“Shut up, Kenji!”
“Oh wait!” he says. “It is you.”
5. Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series – It’s impossible not to adore Karou’s “tiny scary friend” Zuzana, who stands just around 5 feet in platform heels but makes up for her diminutive size with feistiness and a bossy attitude. In Karou’s words, Zuzana’s like a rabid little fairy, and she cracks me up in each of her scenes:
“I hate tights.”“Well, let me add them to the list. This morning you hate, let me see, men in hats, wiener dogs-”“Wiener-dog OWNERS,” Zuzana corrected. “You’d have to have, like, a LENTIL for a soul to hate wiener dogs.”“Wiener-dog OWNERS, hairspray, false eyelashes, and now tights. Are you finished?”
“Hating things?” She paused, reading some inner gauge. “Yes, I think I am. FOR NOW.”
6. Sevro from Red Rising – Sevro’s savage, vicious, wild, and crude, but believe it or not, that’s part of his….well, maybe “charm” isn’t the right word, exactly, but certainly his appeal. What’s not to love about a little heathen running around in a wolf skin and howling at his enemies? Especially when he gets fun dialogue like this:
“Why the limp, my friend?”
“Your mother rode me ragged,” Sevro grunts.
“Bah, you’d have to stand on your tiptoes to even kiss her chin.”
“Wasn’t her chin I was trying to kiss.”
7. Magnus Bane from The Infernal Devices series – Cassandra Clare’s eccentric bisexual warlock has a larger role in the Mortal Instruments series than he does in The Infernal Devices, but I prefer him in the latter series. He’s wicked, passionate, and hilarious in both sets of books, but there’s also a wisdom and thoughtfulness to him when he’s around Will Herondale in TID that I can’t help but fall for.
8. Reagan from Fangirl – Cath’s college roommate in Fangirl is snarky, sarcastic, and wonderful. She can be a bit of a bitch at times, but she’s also a lot of fun and has a secret soft side. Here’s one of my favorite conversations between Reagan and Cath:
“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too,” Reagan said. “I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”
9. John Higgins from the Bloody Jack series – Where would our lovable rascal Jacky Faber be without her loyal manservant Higgins to pull her out of scrapes and dust her off again? Higgins may be a proper (even borderline fussy) English gentleman with impeccable manners and decorum, but that doesn’t mean he’s afraid to don a disguise and pull a fast one on his and Jacky’s opponents. Huzzah, Higgins, huzzah!
You’ve probably noticed some themes here; I like supporting characters with larger-than-life personalities who are hilarious, sarcastic, and maybe a little rough around the edges. What do you look for in a great secondary character? Let me know in the comments section below!