By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian
Last week as I listened to Six of Crows (which is an excellent book and audiobook) I started noticing something. I was regularly googling fan art and fan casting for the characters in the book. Not just once, but often–like every time I learned new things about the characters, I wanted to re-visit people’s visual interpretations of them. This isn’t often something I do when I’m reading. Sure, I get a kick out of casting news for movies, and I sure do love any art involving dragons, which is frequently fan art. But generally speaking, I’m not someone who seeks out other people’s interpretations of characters, or who cares that much about fan casts. So what was different about Six of Crows?
When I thought back to other books that have inspired me to do similar fan-art and fan-casting related searches, I started to realize something: they were consistently books that featured an ensemble cast of main characters. As much as I may adore Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe or Fangirl, their tight focus on one or two main characters never made me seek out the same visuals as ensemble stories like Six of Crows, The Young Elites, or Harry Potter. Maybe it’s because with that many cast members, seeing actors or even fan art helps me keep the characters more distinct in my head. Maybe it’s because I just enjoy seeing all the different interpretations of that many different characters. I’m not sure what makes me seek out fan art, but it definitely seems to be most common when I’m reading about an ensemble.
This whole exercise naturally got me thinking about all the reasons to love large casts, beyond just fan art and fan casting opportunities. The interplay between that many different main characters, all with their own stories, motivations, and goals, leads to some of the most fun interactions and relationships to read about–and if there’s one thing I love reading about, it’s relationships! Ensemble casts also do a great job of ensuring that almost everyone can find at least one character that they really love or identify with. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to find “your” character. And every character helps build up and expand the world you’re reading about, thanks to their own unique perspective and experience–I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my favorite ensemble books are all fantasy novels. The broad range of characters and the world-building work together to create a wonderful, immersive experience.
You don’t have to care about fan art or read people’s fan casts to enjoy the fun that comes with a great, large group of characters. So next time you need a new read, treat yourself to a story about an ensemble of unique main characters. If you need a suggestion, you can find Six of Crows in our YA collection!