Woo okay. Not going to cheat like I did with my final ten prediction here, one character per handler even if I liked a lot of them about equally.
In no particular order:
Coleen Reagan (MK Kilmarnock) - Part of what I really love about Coleen is that if you showed me her prose next to say, Brook or Cody, and I didn't already know better, I wouldn't immediately be able to peg that they were written by the same person. That's not a knock on any of Ricky's stuff (I love Brook and Cody too), it's an example of how trying something different can bring about really awesome results. Personality and arc-wise, Coleen is distinct from any other character Ricky has written before for SOTF and it made her surprising in a very good way.
Putting aside the novelty factor though, Coleen has a lot more to offer. She starts out on the island contemplating suicide, and at first glance it might even make a lot of sense for her character to have gone through with it then and there, given what was set up about her personality in pregame. But she doesn't. And fuck you Ricky I wanted that BDA quote for her. There were hints even in pregame that Coleen is made of sterner stuff than she initially appears, but choosing to live even though she knows she probably won't last is Coleen's early turning point on the island, even before Cameron's death. She goes on to be one of the most heroic (in my opinion) characters in V6's late game, even counting her various mistakes and failures along the way. Honestly sad that she didn't get to go on longer after killing Alessio, because I think she would have been a good, mostly-moral counterpart to all the shades of gray we've got going in to the last bit of the game.
Kaitlyn Greene (D/N) - And in almost direct contrast to Coleen, here's Kaitlyn being set up as some kind of morally-ambiguous at best, outright villainous at worst character from the very start of her island game, and she was a ton of fun the whole way. D/N has a real talent for putting a ton of character and voice into every post and even Kaitlyn's very first lines in her opening post give the reader a good idea of what she's like. She keeps that irreverent tone throughout most of her stay, particularly through her somewhat bumbling initial attempts at establishing herself as a threat, and I'd argue that that's part of what makes the kill that she achieves all the more shocking, both to the reader and to herself.
Kaitlyn's viewpoint on the island is unique as well; we've had our fair share of characters who sort of revel in the lawlessness of the island and some of those who made it out reflect on how it changed them for the better, but I'm hard-pressed to think of any who share the exact sort of empowerment, for lack of a better term, that Kaitlyn feels. Her death thread sums it up best, I think, where she's so self-assured and hell, having fun, while playing a cat-and-mouse death game with a friend. It's fun, interesting stuff.
Michael Crowe (ToxieTheToxicAvenger) - Speaking of irreverent. Michael's an interesting case because I started off kind of skeptical of him in pregame, but the setting of the island actually serves his outlandishness much better than a more down-to-earth setting did. His narrative is also just tongue-in-cheek enough the whole way through for you to know that while he buys into his own hype, his handler is much more self-aware, and it makes Michael a very fun wannabe hero, who doesn't realize that he's way in over his head until it's too late. Ironically, when he does finally make a stand that could actually be called heroic, he dies and we don't even get to see it. Maybe that's a commentary on something or just another touch of irony, but either way it caps off his story in a way that I found more fitting than if he had gotten a longer, more detailed death scene.
I have no idea what we're in for with Michael in Second Chances 2, but man am I looking forward to it.
Fiyori Senay (Riki) - I loved Fiyori in pregame and I love her in game proper and she is good, okay. Fiyori has an arc that's kind of opposite the arc that a lot of SOTF characters have, where she goes from uncaring and actually suicidal to really wanting to act and change things and live, where many people around her are giving up. The thing about Fiyori is that even with such a drastic change in her motivations, you don't get the sense that she as a person has changed much. Her narrative and personality are still very recognizable as the person that she was in pregame, and that's some good strength of character right there.
I like Fiyori in part because it's hard to guess what she'll do next. She's an enigma even to herself sometimes, and I get the sense that even though she has resolved to live if she can, she still doesn't really know what to do with herself. It makes one wonder if she would only be able to gain and keep this motivation in the exact kind of life or death situation that she's in, and whether it would be possible to maintain if she were to go back to the "real world". Also Riki pulled off one of the best brick jokes in SOTF, so there's that.
Cass Prince (dmboogie) - This was a hard choice between Cass and Asha, but while I'm more personally attached to Asha I feel like Cass is in some ways more recognized as a full character and also they're precious and good and pure and I love them and in my personal denial timeline they scissor-kicked Caedyn's head off and lived happily ever after.
But in all seriousness, Cass is really good and had a lot of moments that were personally touching for me. I appreciate a character who can find beauty and goodness in terrible things, and Cass is something of a unique twist on that in that they're distinct from the typical personality that you see with those sorts of characters. Cass is depressed, they feel worthless, they constantly reflect on how other people deserve to live more than they do, but they still manage to find peace and self-affirmation and to create something that will last after they're gone even in spite of Caedyn destroying it physically. There's some pretty powerful stuff there, I think.
Noah Whitley (Laurels) - Laurels made me feel an emotion and he's going to jail for it. This was also a tough choice because Laurels had a super solid group of kids this version, but Noah edges out the other two in terms of voice and characterization. You know who he is from pregame to his opening island posts all the way up through his death, and he never lets himself change for the worse even though he wavers from time to time. Noah is a good person through and through and that's why he didn't stand a chance in SOTF, but he made people happy along the way and that counts for something.
Also I'm dead serious about buying a book adaptation of All About My Mother if you do it, Laurels.
Caedyn Miller (Empress Plush) - Fun fact: I suggested the name Caedyn to Paige way back in the beginning of V6 pregame so I'm like her godmother. You're all welcome.
Caedyn is a good villain not because she's especially smart or badass or nearly as manipulative as she thinks she is, but because she is the logical extreme of the kind of sheer petty malice that teenagers are capable of. Her final post sums it up maybe a little too neatly, but the bottom line of all of Caedyn's actions are "because I want to and I can", and that's actually pretty chilling when you think about it. She's so convinced of her own right to do whatever the hell she wants that she doesn't care about the consequences for anyone but herself, and the way she goes about it constantly reminds the reader that she's not a grand-scale villain. She makes a lot of mistakes and buys into her own ego, just like a particularly amoral teen would. Everything she does are things that real people are capable of. That's why she's so hateable (and, in a way, scary).
Brendan Harte (Primrosette) Yo you all knew this was coming. I've gushed about Brendan so much throughout the version and also in my top ten predictions that I'm not sure there's a lot more detail for me to go into here, but just. God I love Brendan. I love my precious failure son even though I killed him. Prim was a joy to work with every time, from pregame to Brendan's final thread, and Brendan shaped one of my characters in a really significant way along with just being an interesting, sympathetic character even throughout all of his mistakes (and he makes so many mistakes, it's pretty much his defining characteristic. I love him.)
Bradley Floyd (General Goose) - Surprise bitch, bet you thought you'd seen the last of him. Bradley has the distinction of someone that I would probably strongly dislike were I to know him in real life, but being able to read him as a character and get inside his head and see how he works does him a lot of favors. I think the important thing is that, though he can be unpleasant, Bradley really isn't that bad of a person. He's annoying and crass and outright offensive sometimes, but he has good intentions and he doesn't want to hurt anyone. In fact, he himself is hurting a lot towards the end of his story, having just lost a family member and expressing genuine worry for his remaining family and friends, and unfortunately it's his coping method of humor that's his undoing at Kimiko's hands. Gianni took a character concept that could have been a one-note hate sink and made him a multi-dimensional, sympathetic real person. Good stuff.
Dorothy Shelley (Lore) - I love Dorothy because she is just not attached to reality at all. After her first thread, she personally makes it clear that she's going to be in denial until she dies, and then she is. She daydreams about mermaids and shit while people are dying, and even as it starts to go from coping method to an actual downward spiral of sanity slipping away, Dot stays off-beat and silly in a way that is simultaneously funny and really disturbing as she becomes a killer. Even her death is funny on the surface and creepy when you stop to think about it, and that's Dorothy in a nutshell. She's a unique villain with a very distinct voice and absolutely worth a read.