General consensus seems to be that we all just like characters who we relate to, characters who are likeable, and/or characters who have certain traits that we personally happen to like, regardless of gender and probably age too. But are there any specific ages you purposely avoid, any you seek out, and any you more often like than others?
Usually the characters I like are the ones I can at least somewhat relate to. So, since I’m in my twenties, I prefer new adult and adult characters.
College-aged characters are kind of hit-or-miss because they sometimes come across as immature and thus are difficult for me to like and relate to, but they sometimes end up being the most relatable because they’re close to my age and kind of at a turning point in life I was at not too long ago. Even if it’s a fantasy book and they’re fighting monsters rather than attending classes, they’re still in a stage of life I can relate to, dealing with some of the same stress/confusion/fear/excitement/etc.
I feel like there aren’t a ton of books out there with protagonists who are in their mid to late twenties, but I love when I do find them because those are characters I usually relate to best since they’re usually past the craziness, insecurity, and newness of suddenly being an “adult,” but they’re still kind of figuring out life.
I’ve also always gotten along really with adults though ever since I was a kid/teen (yeah, I was that student who would end up having a conversation with the teacher rather than my fellow students half the time when we had free time in class, not because I was suck-up, just because that’s where I was most comfortable sometimes), so I also seem to connect well with characters who are older than me, even fairly drastically older. For example, when I read Water for Elephants, the most relatable character to me was the Old Jacob, the one living in the retirement home.
There are some teenage characters I’ve loved, so none of this is set in stone, but I just more often than not find myself kind of annoyed with their thoughts and decisions. Maybe I’m being too harsh because we all do some stupid things when we’re teenagers, and I do cut characters some slack because too much maturity just isn’t believable, but that still doesn’t mean it’s never annoying. And I really just don’t read about protags below the age of 14, so I don’t have much to say about child or pre-teen characters.
More Thoughts on the Matter
I feel like it’s probably a fairly common thing for us readers to most relate to characters who are close to our own age. That’s just often how life is in general. Kids relate to kids. Teens relate to teens. Adults relate to adults. You get the point.
But then again, as we get older, have we not experienced those younger ages? Shouldn’t we be able to relate to every age we’ve ever been? Clearly not everyone does, but some people seem to be able to understand relate to kids and teen really well.
There’s also the opposite—once we reach a certain age, a certain level of maturity, are we not generally able to relate to those older than us?
It also depends on every person’s life experiences, maturity, memories, etc.
And liking characters isn’t always about relating to them. For some people, relating to a character may not be a requirement at all. One of the greatest things about reading, in my opinion, is getting to experience new perspectives and POVs so that I can understand how other people think and feel and why they do the things they do. And reading about protagonists of different ages can be one way of doing that.
But of course, every single character is different, and whether we like them or not is highly dependent on how they’re written.
Anyway, I think that’s enough of my rambling—your turn!