Are you sick and tired of a squeaky clean hero saving the day? Do you want a little moral ambiguity in your reading list? Well do we have the thing for you: antiheroes! All the joy of a villain but with a few redeemable qualities to make yourself feel better!
All kidding aside, antiheroes can be a lot of fun. TV tropes defines an anti hero as:
a protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero. They may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely apathetic. More often an antihero is just an amoral misfit. While heroes are typically conventional, anti-heroes, depending on the circumstances, may be preconventional (in a “good” society), postconventional (if the government is “evil”) or even unconventional.
Top Five Wednesday is a book tag started by GingerReadsLainey. Join the goodreads group to get each week’s topic and participate yourselves!
1. RORSCHACH FROM WATCHMEN – ALAN MOORE, ILLUSTRATED BY DAVE GIBBONS AND COLOURED BY JOHN HIGGINS
Rorschach is a play on Batman (there are a few of these in Watchmen). He wanders around the comic in his trench coat, mask and fedora will monolouging to the reader. Rorschach is completely dedicated to the truth and will do anything to protect the truth. Unlike the other characters he sees the world in black and white and doesn’t believe in moral ambiguities. The major plot of Watchmen sees the creation of a catastrophe that will end the Cold War and force the world to unite as one against an alien threat. Throughout the course of the story Rorschach is seen writing in his journal, before he heads off to confront the series villain he is seen putting his journal in the mail. Even though the alien invasion plan goes into play, you’re left with this sense that everything could be undone if the journal is read.
Rorschach isn’t a pleasant person. He’s violent, he’s cruel and he’s mostly unliked by the other heroes. Yet the reader comes to love him for his unwavering sense of self identity and moral code and just how surprisingly complex he is.
Just don’t get stuck in prison with him.
2. CALL FROM THE IRON TRIAL – HOLLY BLACK AND CASSANDRA CLARE
At first glance Call isn’t an anti hero. It’s when you really start to pay attention to the symbols and signifiers around Call’s character. He’s got a dark sense of humour. He’s lanky and small compared to the other kids. He’s constantly being compared to his friend Aaron who is the perfect golden boy hero (think Captain America). Call hasn’t done anything to send him down to the path to villianhood but he has that darkness in him. How he uses it will define whether he becomes the series villain or an antihero, only time will tell.
3. ADELINA AMOUTERU FROM THE YOUNG ELITES – MARIE LU
This book wrecked me emotionally. Over the course of this novel nothing good happens to Adelina. By the end of this book she’s basically the villain. What classifies her as an anti hero is that you totally understand her motivations. Marie Lu crafts this story in a really clever way. Every decision that her character makes seems like the right reaction, it’s only when you turn around and realize just how far the story has gone do you realize just how monstrous Adelina has become.
I both look forward and dread the rest of this series. Do I want her to succeed? Maybe? I just know what she’s going to be willing to do to get what she wants is going to be dark.
Check out our review on The Young Elites here.
4. TIMOTHY CAVENDISH FROM CLOUD ATLAS – DAVID MITCHELL
When comparing the Cloud Atlas novel to the Cloud Atlas film adaptation I would argue that the Timothy Cavendish is the most spot on. if you haven’t read Cloud Atlas it’s a book that works as a nesting doll of stories. You can watch my break down of it here. Timothy Cavenish has the most distinct voice out of all the other characters. He’s an arrogant old man who is unable to understand why he is in the situation he is in. It is of course no fault of his own (spoilers: it is).
Cavendish has screwed over everyone he has ever known in some way or another. He’s borrowed money and not paid it back, he’s slept with people’s wives, he’s ripped others off. When he crosses an Irish gangster in the worst way, his brother sends him to a resort to hide out. Turns out the resort is actually a seniors residence with serious One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest vibes. Cavendish finds himself trapped and needs to find a way to escape. Hilarity ensues.
Cavendish is not a nice guy and it can be argued that these experiences teach him nothing. You also can’t exactly trusty what he’s telling you. You’re reading his memoir, given what we know about his personality you might wonder that maybe he’s embellishing his story a little bit.
5. JOHANNES CABAL FROM THE JOHANNES CABAL SERIES – JONATHAN L. HOWARD
Johannes Cabal is a dick and that is why we love him.
To sum up Cabal, there is a scene in Brothers Cabal. Where Horst is introducing Johannes to a group of people. Johannes tries his best to come off as an asshole but fails to make a bad impression since they had been forewarned about him. The fact that he failed makes him angry.
You can’t make excuses for him, some of the things he does are absolutely awful (especially in the first book). It’s amazing how fiction can make you relate to people that you wouldn’t want to relate to in real life. Cabal is just so broken and put back together in such a bad way that there is just no coming back from.
I guess that’s why the anti hero is just so interesting because they draw you to that personality trait that you really wish you didn’t have, like selifishness or greed. Sometimes it can also be really hard to relate to a hero because real life is never that easy. You always can’t be that good and the decisions you make sometimes will hurt people.
Look at the Lord of the Rings. The fellowship is undergoing this quest that is going to change the world. You never see them deal with that stress. Frodo is the most tormented of the bunch, but his guilt and pain is being directly caused by the Ring itself. The characters never feel pressured by the idea that travelling through Rohan may bring the attention of Sauron down on the Rohirrium. It’s a very simple narrative. An anti hero on the other hand has to deal with their own wants and needs. They don’t just sacrifice themselves for the greater world. Instead they ask what will destroying the Ring get me?
Given the dark fantasy kick we’ve been on these last few weeks, this was a pretty easy list to come up with. Do you agree with our picks? Tell us about it in comments below! Until next week and next Wednesday…. Happy Reading!