What’s In A Name?

If you read my review of Immortal Beloved yesterday, then you’ll know I had a big problem with the name of the main character. Ok, so I had other problems with the book too and it wasn’t one of my favourites, but before I’d even got that far I was feeling ticked off by ‘Nasty’ which to me is the silliest name ever. Perhaps it’s unfair but already I hated this girl and every time I read the name it grated on my nerves. 

I guess it must be really tough for an author to name a character, especially a main one! It must almost be like naming a newborn child and I know how difficult that is. Seriously, I poured over piles of baby name books for mine, determined to get the ‘right’ one and discarded tons of names I loved because it sounded silly with the surname or because together the initials could potentially become a bit of a joke. And I’m a bit of a nit-picker where names are concerned anyway. 

After reading Immortal Beloved I started thinking about character names and the impact they can have on a reader. I’ve picked a few here that bugged me, and also ones I felt worked really well. But of course this is just my opinion! Much like baby names, we all have different opinions and I bet there are names I love that others would scream ‘poor baby!’ at. So just for fun….

Doug:Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Last summer I read my first Echol’s book, Forget You. Everyone raved about this author and I wanted in. Wow, they were right. I really loved Jennifer’s writing style and in particular I liked her love interest. He was hot, brooding, passionate and dangerous…yum. But calling him Doug? Didn’t do it for me I’m afraid. I couldn’t stop thinking of Doug Willis, old dad in a lumberjack shirt kind of guy from early 90’s TV fave, Neighbours. Totally spoiled the image. 

Ever Bloom: The Immortals Series by Alyson Noel
When I was talking to Lyndsey about names that bugged, she came straight back with this one. And she’s right. I’m one of the few that actually quite enjoyed the first in the series but boy does the name suck. Very annoying!

Alejandro Fuentes: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Now here’s an example of when a name really works. It screams sexy, just like the delicious bad boy it belongs to, Alex ‘Alejandro’ Fuentes. Phew, you know by the name he’s going to be HAWT!  

Andrea Cremer also gets it just right in Nightshade with not one but two hot boys with names to match. Shay and Ren…yep they both do it for me. How to choose?

Margo: Paper Towns by John Green
This is definitely the case of perfect name for a character here. Q’s been in love with Margo for years, but even though she lives next door she’s as elusive and as mysterious as a movie star. Would she have been so fascinating if she was called Doris for example? I think not. 

You know you have a great character name when everyone knows the books to which you’re referring by that alone. Say Becky Bloomwood and everyone knows you mean Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. The alliteration makes it fun and memorable and completely suits the character.

Bella And Edward: Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
Groan, yes I know we all get tired of hearing about this book but even while I’m not the biggest fan I think these two names work really well together. And I’m sensitive about couple names. When I was around thirteen I briefly had a ‘boyfriend’ called Nicky. Nothing wrong with that name really. Only when put together with my own, Vicki, my friends thought it was hilarious. I was a shallow thirteen year old and ditched him on that basis. To be fair we’d only ever held hands a couple of times walking to the bus stop after school so he was hardly the love of my life. But still….. Anyway, I think for a long time when people think of a romantic couple in YA fiction the names Bella & Edward will spring to mind and they do sound great together.

So there you go, a few of my favourite and not so favourite character names. But what about you? Are you ever been affected by names in a book…share them! And what do you think of my choices…Agree/Disagree? let us know in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. I thought about it reading your review yesterday and one of my high school friend who was named Anastasia (she was Russian) used the nickname Nasty as well. Out of context I found it weird but when talking to her it was less weird…
    Anyway, yes i am absolutely with you on the names, it is oh so important for me and a bad name can sort of ruin a character for me. Names say a lot about a person, and especially the nickname they choose for themselves. I agree on your best and worse list.
    I find the name chosen in Rachel Vincent novels to be pretty much spot on (may it be the name or how it is written).
    Have you read Inside Out? I thought that Trella was not a fantastic choice for a female main character name (made me think of a kitchen appliance when I first read it).

    Great idea for a debate!


  2. LOL I really enjoyed reading this post. I know exactly what you mean. I do the name thing in the school playground whilst I'm waiting for my son to come out. Doesn't it always make you wonder what others think about the names you've chosen for your own kids?

    I agree with you about all those names. I also hate names I can't pronounce and tend to make my own name up for that character.


  3. @Caroline Maybe the problem with the name is that we don't actually see the person, so the first image I had of this Nasty was my own, and it wasn't great! Interesting. I haven't read Inside Out but lol Trella DOES sound like a household appliance.

    @Slowest Bookworm I do that too. Actually I read something a while a go where teachers were talking about names and saying when they get the register they can pick trouble makers, gigglers and brainy pupils out from their names alone. thats actually a bit scary to think! Also lol at unpronounceable names, I remember reading a whole series of books when I was little and pronouncing Phoebe as Pee-oh-beh.


  4. I agree I didn't like “nasty” as a name but it didn't infuriate me as much as “ever” in the immortals series it drove me insane so much I hated the book and will never pick up another one in the series x


  5. God, Nasty is an awful name! It put me off the character straight away too.

    Like you, I'm really picky about names! lol!

    Renesmee is awful. When I read Breaking Dawn I rolled my eyes over that name A LOT! I thought it was a joke! lol!

    Ever as a name doesn't bother me at all, but when you put it with Bloom as a surname, then it starts to get iffy!

    Patch & Nora – I really enjoy the Hush, Hush books, but I have never liked those names. At least Patch is just a nickname. His real name is a lot better!


  6. I have to agree with you on the name Doug – the same Doug (Jason Donovan's real-life dad!!) springs to mind whenever I hear that name too.

    I've never really been able to get my head around the name Katniss (as in Hunger Games). I love the character, but the name? No.


  7. I agree with the name turning you off of a character. I just finished reading 'The Girl in the Steel Corset' and the main character's name is Finley Jayne. This wouldn't bother me a whole lot if it didn't take place in 1897. Given, it is steampunk, but really, Finley? I loved the book, but I didn't like the main character (not only because of her name, but she was also a bit of a Mary-Sue).


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