Not all characters in books are supposed to have our approval and that is a good thing. A book in which all characters make understandable decisions and behave almost like perfect human beings becomes really dull after a while. I love when books feature characters who are unlikeable, but who are also complex, fleshed out and well written. They are not merely evil or plain villains, there is more to them than their despicable actions. They bring complexity to the plot of a book.
These are some of the characters I love to hate:
Cersei Lannister – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
There are quite a few unlikeable characters in the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. But the one I love to hate the most is Cersei. Although the utmost evil and twisted characters are probably Joffrey and Ramsay, Cersei is the one I would miss the most if she didn’t exist. She is eager for power, using any means possible to achieve what she wants. However, she is not as cunning as she believes herself to be, not considering the consequences of her actions. One redeeming quality could be the love she has for her children, except that I believe that this love comes second to her ambitions.
Marin Brandt – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Marin Brandt is far from a villain. She is just a woman hiding too many secrets and dealing with concealed feelings, which makes her quite a thought-provoking character. But she is for almost the entirety of Jessie Burton’s debut novel arrogant and utterly unlikeable. The way in which she treats Nella at first is just appalling.
Luke – The Dumb House by John Burnside
Throughout this novel by John Burnside, Luke engages in the most despicable and shocking experiments. When he was a child he was told the story of the dumb house, having developed an unhealthy obsession with the question of life and death and the existence of a soul. Despite the cold-bloodedness of his actions, Luke is quite a compelling character and, as readers, we become intrigued and fascinated by him, just not for the best reasons.
Dorian Gray – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dorian Gray is the most narcissistic character I have ever encountered in a book. He is led to believe by Lord Henry that pleasure and happiness are the only aims of human life worth pursuing. So, he starts living his life with only gratification in mind without any regard for others, even if they are close to him. That lifestyle obviously has consequences, but not only for himself. It is his transformation that makes this classic such a compelling read.
Are there any unlikeable or hateful characters that you think make a book more interesting? Tell me in the comments!