I'm a reader who normally has to like the main characters of a book in order to enjoy reading it. In some rare cases I'm ok with not liking the main characters, but this is indeed very rare. So me liking a main character is essential for my reading experience. And maybe that's why I get very annoyed and frustrated when a beloved character is changed into a person I no longer like. This can happened throughout one book, at the beginning I may love a character and then he will change so much that I no longer like him. Or it can happen throughout a series. Either in a series in which the main characters are the same in each book, or in a series (mostly romances) in which each book has a different set of main characters and the main characters from the previous book become minor characters in the new one.
In the last months there were two series that I initially liked because of the great main characters, but then started to dislike because they changed so much. One series was a fantasy trilogy, the other an ongoing romance series. At first the characters in the books were strong, honest and nice, but then throughout the series they became week and started to act like jerks. In both cases I was shocked. Don't get me wrong, I like it when a character goes through little changes, when a character gets the change to evolve. But when a character changes so much that he is like a persiflage of his former self, then I can no longer enjoy the book or series.
People don't really change so much. We mostly change little things about who we are, about how we act. But drastic changes don't happen so often and especially not without something special happening to make us change. In both series nothing dramatic or serious had happened to the characters and yet they changed into completely different persons. And I don't understand why that had to happen.
I think that a great author never forgets who the characters are in their core. They know how the characters act, they know which changes in personality will fit to them. A great author doesn't take the easy way of changing a characters personality completely to create some easy drama or to make a new storyline work. Both are shortcuts that shouldn't happen in a story. A character's personality shouldn't be sacrificed to make a book more exciting or to make a new storyline work. I want authors to stay true to their characters and to respect them enough to let them stay who they are.
If you have read so far you now know that I'm slightly obsessed by this topic. In the last months I have thought a lot about it and the two series that provoked this way of thinking. I often care deeply about characters and that's why I don't like them being misused by their creators. And I maybe think too much about books in general, but that's who I am. :)
Have you ever experienced something similar? Do you get annoyed when a character changes too much without a logical reason? Or are you more relaxed about it than I am?