Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, munchkins!
Once again, it’s time for the Smashing & Dashing Character Awards, where we honor the most lovable, most intriguing, and most frustrating fictional characters we encountered in the past twelve months. This tag was originally created by the lovely C.G. Drews @Paper Fury, and I’ve kept it up because it’s the perfect way to look back over the year of reading and celebrate good books.
So without further ado, here are this year’s winners…
1. Most Relatable Character
Adrian Montague from The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee. Adrian’s story is a startlingly accurate portrayal of obsessive compulsive disorder, a mental illness I’ve struggled with to varying degrees all my life. At times, I hated how much I related to Adrian… but by the end, I was proud of how hard he had fought and how far he had come. And that, in turn, encouraged me to be proud of myself. ❤
2. Most Pure Animal Companion
Purest animal companion? Why, of course, it’s Gaspode the Dog from Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett.
This is irony. I’m being ironic. Appreciate my irony, peasants.
3. Fiercest Fighter
Captain Sam Vimes from Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. An incorrigibly stubborn bastard with a heart of gold and a thirst for justice, there’s no one I’d rather have by my side than Sam Vimes.
4. Am Surprised That I Loved You??
Meyer Landsman from The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon. I didn’t expect to like this guy–he’s a divorced alcoholic, which is practically a recipe for “bitter misogynist”–but he’s not a misogynist at all. He steers safely between the Scylla and Charybdis of “my wife left me so all women owe me” and “my wife left me so I will stalk and harass her until she agrees to return.” I’m not saying Meyer doesn’t have serious flaws, because he does; but his attitude toward the opposite gender isn’t one of ’em. Quite refreshing.
5. Best Sassmaster
Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, hands down. The sauciest of saucy boys.
6. Best Antihero
Captain Marko Ramius from The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. Before you get your knickers in a knot from hearing me call him an “antihero,” may I remind you that Ramius murders a guy on, like, page five?? Besides, even though the movie tries to make his motives more altruistic, Ramius in the book is driven primarily by revenge. He has a very compelling reason for revenge, which makes him easy to root for, but he still strikes me as an antihero more than a traditional hero.
7. The Best Friends Of All
Miss Marple and Inspector Craddock from The Mirror Crack’d by Agatha Christie. I love this odd-couple friendship between the energetic young detective and the nosy–er, sorry, inquisitive–old lady. Beneath the gentle teasing and playful competition, there’s a genuine affection and loyalty which warms my heart.
8. Best Villain To Hate
Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu from I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys. Far from being distant figureheads, these brutal Communist dictators insert themselves into our protagonist’s life in a very tangible way when they coerce him into joining their army of informants.
9. Award For Best vs Worst YA Parents
Chloe’s moms from I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston are this year’s best YA parents. They strike the tricky balance between firm and supportive; allowing Chloe space to feel big feelings, but reining her in whenever she shows signs of going too far.
Meanwhile, Niall Lynch and Mór Ó Corra from Greywaren by Maggie Stiefvater enjoy the dubious distinction of being 2022’s worst YA parents. What exactly makes them “the worst” is a giant spoiler, so I won’t reveal it here… but gee whillikers, Maggie!!!
10. Ship Of All Ships In 2022
Jerry and Alanna from The Lady and the Tiger by Sam Starbuck. By the raw numbers, this one shouldn’t have worked for me–I don’t like friends-to-lovers, I don’t like “charming” male leads, I don’t even like royal romance–but none of that mattered, because Jerry and Alanna are a literal match made in heaven and I will stand by that statement.
11. Most Precious Must Be Protected
Brie Hutchens from In the Role of Brie Hutchens by Nicole Melleby is extremely precious and must be protected. She’s a thirteen-year-old girl afraid to come out as gay to her very Catholic parents and very Catholic school.
12. Honestly Surprised You’re Still Alive
Jack Ryan from The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. When I say I’m surprised Jack is still alive, I don’t mean it in the traditional male action hero sense of “wow, he makes a lot of reckless decisions and jumps headfirst into danger,” because he doesn’t. Jack isn’t so much reckless as under-trained. Through no fault of his own, he keeps getting sent into situations which he lacks the necessary skills to handle, and must survive through guile and determination alone.
13. Award For Making The Worst Decisions
Every single character from A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. Needless to say, I was not impressed with this book.
14. Most In Need Of A Nap
Lord Caterham from The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie. This adorable bean wants nothing more than to eat his poached eggs in peace, yet his annoying friend George Lomax insists on embroiling him in all sorts of unsavory diplomatic schemes “for the good of the Empire.” Most annoying, what?
15. Want To Read More About You
Thea Kronborg from The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. Thea fascinates me deeply… a young woman clinging to dreams of artistic greatness in a nineteenth-century society where women are supposed to be useful, not “inspired.” They’re supposed to be wives, mothers, homemakers; or failing that, teachers or nurses. They’re supposed to nurture others, rather than nurturing their own creative spark. But Thea Kronborg isn’t about to be held back by a little thing like societal expectations.
And there you have it, the winners of this year’s Smashing and Dashing Character Awards! I invite everyone who wishes to fill out the tag using the books they read this year. I’d love to see y’all’s answers! Here’s a clean copy of the questions to make it easier:
- Most Relatable Character
- Most Pure Animal Companion
- Fiercest Fighter
- Am Surprised That I Loved You??
- Best Sassmaster
- Best Antihero
- The Best Friends Of All
- Best Villain To Hate
- Award for Best vs. Worst YA Parents
- Ship Of All Ships In 2022
- Most Precious Must Be Protected
- Honestly Surprised You’re Still Alive
- Award For Making the Worst Decisions
- Most In Need Of A Nap
- Want To Read More About You
Have fun, munchkins!
I…don’t know any of these characters. 😂 But I’m glad you had such fun with the books you read in 2022!
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Haha!! Thanks, Eva! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about them regardless 😉
(And I do think you might enjoy “Hunt for Red October,” if you feel inclined to try it!)
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Katie, your annual Smashing and Dashing post has been the Height(TM) of my literary recommendations resource for the last few years. Even though I’m awful at commenting and didn’t let you know this, your enthusiasm for Six of Crows was what made me read it. And it was fabulous, so when I do this tag (which I am totally doing this year based on how much I enjoy your take!) a whole ton of those characters will be in the answers…
All the Jeeves and Wooster images and gifs are supreme (the kidnapping child gif?? That’s me about every other fictional character). I haven’t watched that show, but I’ve known about it for years and am almost positive that I will adore it.
One of my dad’s favorite movies of all time is The Hunt for Red October, and one of these years I’m actually going to watch it. Or read the book. Who knows? Things could get wild here. XD
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Awww! *blushes* I’m so glad to know you enjoy these posts!!! I had a bit of a rough time this December and I wasn’t sure if I should do my annual “Smashing & Dashing Character Awards” wrap-up, but then I was like, to heck with it, I will GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!!!
Oh yes, I can’t wait to see your tag answers! I love seeing other people’s favorite books of the year and getting recommendations from them ❤
"Six of Crows" is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. I ADORE that book, and I'm thrilled to hear that you did too!! Kaz and Inej *distant sobbing*
Yessssssssssssssss. If you love Jeeves and Wooster, you absolutely need to watch Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie's take on them. It's pure Wodehouseian brilliance. Hugh Laurie's facial expressions ALONE make it worth it.
I was genuinely shocked by how much I enjoyed The Hunt for Red October! I especially appreciated that the book put a lot of effort into exploring the Soviet perspective and making its Soviet characters sympathetic. It's a very "thoughtful" novel, in a way I don't usually associate with military/action thrillers.
MAMA JUST KILLED A CHAP
Needless to say, our favorite bachelor and gentleman’s gentleman added indispensable star power to this post, and we thank you for it. 😉
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PUT A GUN AGAINST HIS HEAD, PULLED THE TRIGGER, NOW HE’S DEAD
You are most welcome, old bean! So glad you enjoyed it!!
BTW, I tagged you just now. Play if you want to!
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Ooh, a tag! I love tags, and this one looks especially delightful! Thank’ee 😀