Characters are the best.
There may be some people out there who don’t understand this, but… I would say all readers and writers have developed a bond with certain characters they hold near and dear to their hearts. Like Harry from William Sleator’s Singularity—I get the whole sibling-angst thing because, well, I have an older sister and it’s not always sunshine and gumdrops. Or “Gabriel” and Bubba from Julie Gonzalez’s Imaginary Enemy. Those characters resonated with me because I used to have an imaginary frenemy (and he still resurfaces sometimes… DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT).