There’s nothing better than a good bad character, otherwise known a villains. In my head, the word “villain” is a little too strong — I immediately think of wicked witches and murders rather than characters in books, so this post took me a little out of my comfort zone. Needless to say, there are some villains I love to hate in the books I’ve read. I thought October would be perfect to talk about these bad to the bone characters we just can’t get enough of. Let’s get started!
1. Amy Dunne; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is one of my favorite thrillers, and that’s all because of Amy Dunne. I won’t ruin the book, but Amy is the perfect villain. She’s gorgeous, successful, and seemingly has it all, until one day she goes missing. You find out pretty early on in the book that Amy is actually staging her own murder and framing her husband so that she can escape and live the life she always wanted. She’s a genius — she’s evil, but you can’t deny the girl’s got brains. Throughout the entire story readers can see how quick-thinking, innovative, and diabolical Amy really is. And that’s what makes her the perfect villain — down to the last page.
2. Big Brother; 1984 by George Orwell
Big Brother is a villain that actually terrifies me because it’s not entirely implausible. 1984 takes place in a dystopian world where people are constantly being watched by Big Brother, war is a constant, and to think independently of the state means torture. The novel follows a man, Winston, who doesn’t believe in the Party — he questions who they are actually at war with since it seems to switch every day, he believes in love between two individuals, and he dreams about a day he can rebel against Big Brother. When Big Brother catches Winston, as he always will because he is always watching, Winston is tortured endlessly until he finally breaks. Big Brother is cruel to the bone. Personally, I don’t love to hate him — I fear that he could one day exist (hopefully, long after I’m dead).
3. Lord Voldemort; Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I almost forgot about Voldemort when I was making this list. How? I don’t know. But I’m glad I remembered because he’s such a classic villain. If you’ve lived under a rock for the last 20 years, Harry Potter is about an orphaned wizard whose destiny is defeat the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Voldemort is determined to kill this boy at every age, though he does patiently wait until the end of every school year so Harry can semi-focus on his studies. Voldemort is evil to the bone, murdering anyone in his path, entrapping people to be his servants, and determined to make wizards the dominant class. He was truly the villain of my nightmares as a kid.
4. Nurse Ratched; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Nurse Ratched is undeniably a horrible woman. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in a psychiatric hospital, and features a slew of characters ranging from the “deaf and mute” Chief Bromden to the not actually clinically insane Randle Patrick McMurphy to Nurse Ratched, the cruel head nurse. McMurphy is in the hospital as an alternative to serving out a legal punishment in prison. He causes bountiful mayhem, and teachers the patients a thing or two about life while he’s at it. But Nurse Ratched is not interested in letting his shenanigans play out. She subjects him, as well as other patients, to painful treatments and will do anything to maintain control of the ward. She’s menacing and overbearing, and no one should cross her.
5. Captain Hook; Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Captain Hook is an almost comical villain. He’s determined to end Peter Pan, but he can never catch him — the closest he got was when he captured the other children (Wendy and the boys) and used them as bait. He’s got his sidekick, Smee, who never seems to be able to do anything right, and a deathly fear of a ticking crocodile. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching Hook or maybe it’s because Peter Pan is one of my favorite classic children’s books, but Captain Hook will always hold a special place in my heart as a friendly, yet threatening, villain.
There you have it — some of the best villains in the books. Who are some of your favorite villains? Let me know in the comments below.