Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


Top Ten Tuesday – T L Costa

Hello Strange Chemistry fans! How is your Tuesday going? I think by now you must be in the swing of this Top Ten Tuesday lark by now, but, just a quick reminder! We invite our thirteen authors (true as of typing this) to pick one of the Top Ten Topics hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. So far we’ve seen Top Ten Favourite Books Today and Top Ten Fictional Couples. T L Costa is here to tell you about her Top Ten Voices…

What do I mean by voice, you ask? A character’s voice is what we hear in our heads as we read. If done well, it also humanizes the character so that they’re burned into our memories. Voice can be a polarizing thing: it’s one of the main reasons people either love or hate a book.

As someone who thrives on voice-driven narratives, I thought that I’d share some of the writers that I feel have the best voices in fiction.

10. Harper Lee. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is not only a classic in terms of theme and socio-political significance, but also in terms of voice. Scout tells us her story the way only she can, and we love her for it.

9. Federico García Lorca. Don’t speak Spanish? Well, you may want to consider learning it just to be able to read Lorca! If not, then he’s good in translation, too. The way he uses every little thing on the page, from punctuation to syllables, as tools to create rhythm and emotion awes me. AWES ME, I tell you. Yes, I know a lot of it is poetry, but even in his prose there is an underlying music to his words that I’ve never seen anyone capable of replicating.

8. George R. R. Martin. Would you ever start one of Sansa’s chapters and think you were reading one of Tyrion’s?

7. John Green. All of his books are full of characters with great voices, but the narrator in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS particularly impressed me. Her humor held me together as her own life was falling apart. Powerful book, powerful voice.

6. Lee Child. You’d never, ever, mistake a Reacher book for anything else.

5. MT Anderson. Have you read FEED? How about THE ASTONIGHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING? One is about a slacker from the future who has the internet implanted in his skull and the other is about a black teen raised by radical philosophers in Revolution-era Boston. Each narrator leaps off the page and into your head and you’ll never forget either of them.

4. J.D. Salinger. Specifically I think here of CATCHER IN THE RYE. Salinger completely immerses the reader in Holden’s mind, letting the reader feel Holden’s fears and insecurities. The book has inspired generations. Literally.

3. Patrick Ness. Look at Todd from his CHAOS WALKING series. Todd is illiterate. The way he thinks and speaks and describes the world to his readers is done beautifully yet using language appropriate to a boy who has little formal schooling. Talented guy, that Patrick Ness.

2. Jennifer Egan. A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD re-invented what a novel is and can be. She switches characters and time periods and tense and even format in each chapter and still manages to tell a cohesive and beautiful tale. I dare you to read it and not find it amazing. GOON SQUAD is a book that I try and place in the hands of as many people as I can.

1. Nobody and I mean nobody, does voice like Anthony Burgess. Think what we may of his masterpiece, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, Alex’s voice is possibly the most distinct voice in all of modern literature. Why? Because the language Alex uses not only tells his story but builds for us the world around him. Burgess, without ever stating “the Russians rolled over London,” paints for us a world of just such a dystopia. He gives us just enough English to figure out what all the Russian words mean. Then he couples the words with the mind of the most sadistic teenager ever to appear on page, and voila! A voice, oh my brothers, you’ll never forget.

Leave a comment and let me know who you would add to the list!


Gail C.

T, great list. Some I’ve read and others I must now put on my list like Jennifer Egan for your description of her writing has intrigued me. George R.R. Martin, I’m letting my husband get a head start before I steal, I mean borrow it from him. And Lee and Salinger will stay with us forever.


I have only read a few of theses selections, but I must say how strongly I agree with your choice of Patrick Ness’ series Chaos Walking. I read these books quite a while ago, but the voice of his main characters has stayed with me. Fabulous reads. I’m interested in picking up a few of your other choices. Thanks TL.

Karen Pinco

Robin McKinley: The Blue Sword. The Hero and the King. I fell in lover with her voice as a teen and, every so often, I still go back and read her books.

T L Costa

@Gail, yes! You have to pick up Jennifer Egan, she is truly an amazing writer!

@Joanne, CHAOS WALKING is wonderful! Thanks for the post!

@Karen, Now I have to read Robin McKinley! Thanks!


Would you consider S. E. Hinton, for “The Outsiders”?


OMG you’ll *love* Robin McKinley. I thought you read Sunshine by her, though. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is wonderful. Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective agency series is also good. He writes kind books. I love to read his with a cup of rooibus tea.

T L Costa

Yes, yes I would definitely count Hinton as a great voice!

Leave a comment