My faavorite author is Dean Koontz. His characters are very important - you really feel like you know them and they are your friends by the end of the book. I know I sit there caring about what is going to happen to them - and honestly want to know how they are doing in their lives once the book is over! <img src="/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
But there were a couple of his books (only a couple, mind) where I felt his plot was weak. Or maybe it wasn't the plot, but it was the tempo of things. (His are usually very fast - making you run to keep up with him). And while I still enjoyed those, I didn't go back and read them a 2nd time like I have all of his others.
But I have never been able to get into a book where the characters were 2nd fiddle. Some of Tom Clancy's are that way. He's so technical he almost forgets his people. But I loved "Clear and Present Danger" and any of the books involving John Clark. Those have the most feeling. (Especially "Without Remorse") But "Hunt For Red October" almost lost me with all of the sub jargon and military maneuvering. In that one the plot was way more important than the characters (IMHO).
Yes, I agree, it does often depend on the book - there are some authors who are really good at taking a cliched plot and giving it a good twist for a really enjoyable summer read - but two months later you wouldn't even remember the slightest thing about the characters.
And then I've read some really good literary fiction that just goes nowhere, but it is so beautifully written.
I suppose, in skillful hands, anything is possible...
Yes, unfortunately I've spent way too much of my time watching movies with wooden actors. It's amazing the difference a little bit of acting skill makes to even a formula movie. Elektra was pretty good; Ultraviolet was pretty bad.