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T5W: Favourite ‘Unlikeable’ Protagonists

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam of ThoughtsOnTomes. Every week, I will post my top 5 of that week’s theme. If you’d like to learn more about it or join in the fun, head over to the Goodreads group where all the discussions take place here.

This week’s theme is unlikeable protagonists. I personally love a brilliant villain, but it can be difficult to have a good unlikeable protagonist. You have to take someone with serious flaws and make readers see some light in them. It’s difficult to do, and sometimes a ‘good’ unlikeable protagonist just becomes someone that you can’t stand, and the balance between flaws and strengths is lost. Here’s a list of examples where I think it’s been done right.

1. Naondel – Maria Turtschaninoff

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I couldn’t just pick one of Naondel’s many narrators, but something that I think Turtschaninoff did really well was craft really complex characters. All of the women that narrate this novel are out to save their own skin, and largely remain so for most of the novel. They are selfish and ambitious out of need and form few friendships and bonds between them. However, you come to love them as characters because their lives and thoughts are so well presented and you see their distinct personalities coming together when they realise they should not be enemies any longer.

2. Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas

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I chose the protagonist of the early books in the Throne of Glass series over that of the later books because Celaena was everything that I enjoy in an unlikeable protagonist. I loved how she toed the line between hero and villain. She was dangerous, a threat to everyone and not afraid to show it, proud of her strength and skill, scheming, and powerful, but at the same time we saw gentler sides to her. We saw her both as an assassin and as a friend, lover, and protector. While some people simply love Celaena, I actually often toe the line between love and hate in these books, especially in the later books. There are moments where I love her sassiness, her wit, and the double sides to her character, and there are other moments where I feel tired of it, and want her to just pick the a side, good or bad. I guess that’s what makes her such an intriguing protagonist.

3. Eva from We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

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Eva is far from a likeable character because of her crude honesty. She is completely open about not having wanted her first child Kevin, about her dislike for him as a child and uneasiness around him, about her resenting many of the choices that she allowed herself to be talked into by her husband. We learn that her son Kevin killed seven students and two adults in a massacre at his school, and we see Eva visiting him in prison and even preparing her house for his return, taking extra care to ensure he will be comfortable. Throughout the novel, I wasn’t ever quite sure about Eva, and I definitely felt uneasy reading this novel, but it was an unfamiliar feeling that I actually really enjoyed.

4. Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire – George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones

I always get weird looks for saying that Cersei is one of my favourite characters in this series, but she is just the epitome of a great villain. What I love about Cersei, and about the characterisation in this series generally, is that you always see the characters’ motives for their actions. Cersei is undeniably selfish and cruel, but you also know that she does the things she does to protect her family. I also think she’s a fascinating character in how scheming she is and how she is one of the most dangerous characters in the series without being a warrior in the typical sense.

5. Pip – Great Expectations from Charles Dickens

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Reading this novel, I actually actively disliked Pip. I thought he was selfish and couldn’t see past his own desires, he was ungrateful to his uncle, and narrow-minded. I hated how he treated those who had helped him, and how quickly he seemed to forget all about him. However, it all fits into the story well, as it is about growing up and learning valuable lessons, which Pip definitely does. He learns that the things he had thought were wrong, and comes to realise the errors of his ways.

Do you like an unlikeable protagonist? How many flaws is too many flaws?

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T5W: Books That Would Make Good Video Games

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam of ThoughtsOnTomes. Every week, I will post my top 5 of that week’s theme. If you’d like to learn more about it or join in the fun, head over to the Goodreads group where all the discussions take place here.

This week’s topic is books that would make good video games. I’m not much of a gamer, but I’ve picked books that were filled with action and problem-solving from start to end. Here we go!

1. Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton

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There is so much travelling, running, fighting, and sneaking around in this book that it made me feel a little bit like I was in a video game! I felt like I was jumping off trains and trekking through the desert with Amani, and I really think the adrenaline of this book would translate well into a video game. The landscapes are great, and I can imagine little mini-games with the different magical creatures and powers.

2. Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas

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I think that the first book in this series would make such a great game because of the tournament that Celaena is a part of. The game would include her training so that she is the best of the other candidates, the tournament itself, as well as the underlying mysteries around the palace, like when she discovers the secret tunnel in her room. Celaena would make a great video game protagonist because she is smart, adventurous, and completely badass. The location of the palace would work so well in a video game as well, and I would love to be able to explore all its different corridors and rooms.

3. Maresi –  Maria Turtschaninoff 

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When I read this book, I loved reading about the simple lives of the women in the Red Abbey. I imagine that this came would be less action-packed than my previous two choices, and instead would be a chilled out simulation game. We would play the role of a new arrival, learning the ropes around the Abbey, helping with chores and tasks, with the harvest and learning new skills. Then, we would become a novice and even a sister. Maybe this sort of game isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it might sound a bit boring to some, but I grew up playing Sims and the Red Abbey sounded great to me, so I would love it!

4. Red Rising – Pierce Brown

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There is so much to this world that I would love a chance to really be a part of it. Maybe we could be young Golds at the Institute, or a rebel infiltrator like Darrow, leading warships in space.

5. A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin

A Game of Thrones

Okay, this is a bit of a cop-out, because I actually played a ASOIAF game once on my phone but didn’t get very far because my phone was too crappy to handle it. The graphics were so great, and you got to decide what house you were in, whether you were rich or poor, and make different choices along the way. The world in these books is so diverse that it really would need to be a story that you craft yourself, whether you want to be leading an army into battle like Jaime or Robb Stark, a schemer like Littlefinger, royalty like Cersei or just someone trying to get by like Sansa.