It’s been said that the success of the Twilight series is in part thanks to author Victoria Aveyard’s ability to make readers fall in love with her anti-heroes. Well, it’s true. While you’re empathising with Edward Cullen in his quest for immortality, you’re also rooting for the bad boy, Jacob Black. Thanks to Bella’s interference, we get to see a lot more of Charlie Black than we would normally see in a typical Twilight novel. In fact, aside from a few mentions in passing, the character seemed to be written entirely out of the story. Which is a pity, as a lot of great comedy could’ve come from the awkward interactions between the younger Black and the more experienced Edward. But as a reader, you want to be with Bella and her family as they deal with danger and the unknown. It’s great when an underdog turns into a winner, and it’s even better when they don’t have to fight their entire life for it. As for Jacob, well, he’s still the surly kid you love to hate. But at least you understand where he’s coming from.

The Evolution Of A Bad Boy

When you first encounter Jacob Black in the pages of Little Ashes, you’ll barely have time to realise that he’s the bad boy of the story. In fact, aside from his piercing blue eyes and his messy brown hair, you’d never guess that he was the son of the wealthy CEO of a pharmaceutical company. In a way, author Victoria Aveyard portrays Jacob as a combination of the many boys she grew up with in Australia. Tall and lanky, but with a sweet nature, he’s the complete opposite of his brother, Alec, who is more like their father, Thomas. Like Edward Cullen, Jacob was brought up by a clan of wolves and as a result, he has a more unruly lifestyle, which clashes with his family’s high society ways. Even though Jacob is well-liked by his friends, he never really finds a place in the community, which makes him desperate for acceptance. He wants to be loved, just like Edward, but with all the wrong instincts. As Aveyard herself puts it – and we couldn’t agree more – “I wanted to know what it felt like to write a character you loved to hate.”

The Evolution Of A Lady’s Man

You’ll encounter Thomas Black, Jacob’s father, a couple of times in Little Ashes. The first time, he shows up in a helicopter to whisk Jacob away for a business trip to London, which turns out to be a fateful trip. He’s the head of an international marketing firm, with an office in London and another in New York, and when he learns that his son has been accepted at St. Martin’s University, he wants to see him graduate with a prestigious marketing degree. Unfortunately, Jacob is more interested in the company’s alcohol-free energy drink, which is rapidly expanding across Europe, than he is in his studies. Even though he had always been a straight-A student back home, it seems that the higher the stakes, the lower his grades go. For Jacob, drinking is as essential to life as eating and sleeping, and he sees no conflict between his social life and his studies. He particularly enjoys mixing with the wealthy English students, who are often into extreme drinking and partying, which can transform a typical frat boy party into a full-blown orgy. But for all his debauchery, Thomas Black has always been a supportive father, who has given Jacob the confidence to be more care-free. While Jacob has a fling with a student, he also starts an organic farm with his friend, Jimmy, where he raises cherry tomatoes, eggplants and aubergines. And let’s not forget about his love for gourmet chocolate. Not that he needs much motivation to stay fit. He’s a bit of a gym freak and he often works out with Jimmy or with his personal trainer, Dan Cleary.

The Evolution Of A Loner

Despite his easygoing nature, Jacob still feels extremely isolated, which he attributes to his loner tendencies. He’s never been the type of guy to go seeking friendship, or the approval of others. In a way, he was raised by wolves and he feels more comfortable in the wilderness, alone or with just one other person. Which is why he always enjoys being part of a duo, where he can exchange ideas, bounce ideas off one another and come up with the best solutions. He sees himself as a bit of a mentor to his college-aged wards and he encourages them to go above and beyond in their studies, as well as in developing their social skills. But he’s also the guy you call in case of emergencies – his phone number is constantly being given out and he’s helped countless friends in times of need. It isn’t just his charm. Jacob truly is a selfless, kind-hearted friend, who would do anything for the people he cares about. He’s also grown to appreciate the beauty of nature and the outdoors. When he’s not working or studying, Jacob spends his time camped out, alone or with a small group of friends, exploring the wilderness, fishing or walking. Some of his favourite places in the world are Greece, Portugal, Hungary and Spain, where he feels an organic connection with the land.

Bringing The Outdoor Experience Indoors

While the outdoor experience is something that Jacob enjoys and values, the constant travel and the changing climate aren’t doing his health any favours. The heat is slowly but surely becoming more and more unbearable and the shorter days are making him anxious. He’d like to be able to enjoy the warmer weather without having to worry about his health. So, he comes up with a brilliant idea. He buys a small apartment building in the city and turns it into a glorified hunting lodge. He decks out the place with all the essential hunting equipment – a bow and arrows, a pair of binoculars, a crossbow, a couple of spears – and he even brings back the taste of the wilderness in the form of a gas fridge, filled with freshly killed game. He plans to trap game and cook it himself, using his new Japanese-made outdoor grill.

The Evolution Of A Homebody

Weeks after his father’s death, Jacob is finally able to put down his roots, renting a sweet little house, in the woods, near the village of Tullybucket. As we’ve established, he’s a bit of a hermit and he prefers the company of animals to humans. The more solitary he can be, the happier he will be. He doesn’t need company, other than that of his two dogs, Scout and Hunter, or his guinea pigs – Penny and Lou – and he particularly enjoys keeping them all healthy and happy by playing with them regularly. His new domestic life is also an opportunity for reflection. Jacob has always been close to his father and he feels a sense of duty, as the son of the man who founded the company, Black Industries. He spends his time in Tullybucket, surrounded by nature and his beloved animals, tending to their needs and playing with them. He no longer feels isolated and he has a feeling, that this is where he belongs. It’ll take a while, but at least he has a place to call home now.

Backcountry Medicine Is Essential

Let’s fast forward to the present day. In her 20s, Victoria Aveyard decides to switch gears and pursue a career in medicine. She lives in New York City and is a dedicated physician, who spends her free time working with medical students or volunteering with underprivileged kids. She particularly enjoys being able to help others and the feeling of satisfaction that she gets from saving lives. The author of Little Ashes has always been interested in the ways in which our bodies work and how we can prevent illness. In fact, this is something that she enjoys talking about. When not writing or studying, Aveyard enjoys spending time with her family and her dogs. She also takes an active interest in her local politics. We’re sure that her experiences as an independent woman, living in a large urban community, have influenced her in some way. It isn’t just her experience as the daughter of an alcoholic that has made her such an insightful psychologist. Victoria Aveyard is a well-rounded individual, with an interest in all things science-related. It’s great when a writer manages to flesh out a character so well, that you feel like you know them, even though you’ve barely met them. Little Ashes is full of such memorable personalities. In the end, it’s not the vampires who you’ll miss the most, but rather, the people.