Whilst meandering through the book blogger ‘verse I found this great weekly writing prompt called Top 5 Wednesday (goodreads group here) and this week I thought I’d take part because the theme is Favourite Unlikeable Protagonists. And god help me, I enjoy a good unlikeable protagonist.
OK, counting down then:
5. Agatha Raisin from M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series (all links goodreads)
Agatha Raisin is a middle aged public relations agent who retires early to the countryside and ends up solving murders due to a combination of nosiness and bullish determination. Agatha’s first case comes about because she cheats in a local baking contest, entering a shop bought quiche as her own, and then has to clear her name when the quiche kills the judge. Agatha is often short-tempered and at first struggles to make friends, more used to the nastiness of PR life in London. Despite her grumpiness, Agatha ends up being quite endearing, and it is delightful to read about her bumbling about the Cotswolds, solving cases and being rude to people.
4. Isabel from Sarra Manning’s Let’s Get Lost
Isabel is the self-described ‘Queen Bitch’ of her school and quickly spiralling out of control, pushing away everyone she knows with her bad behaviour, staying out late and getting drunk. Obviously there are reasons behind Isabel’s behaviour, and the book is told from her perspective which makes her vulnerability more obvious, but Isabel’s meanness and snarkiness is part of what made me like her.
3. Nick Ryves from Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon’s Lexicon
Avoiding spoilers, so I will just say that Nick is one cold dude. In fact, if it weren’t obvious that he cares a great deal about his brother Alan, Nick would come across as somewhat sociopathic. The Demon’s Lexicon is a YA Urban Fantasy novel, and Nick and Alan know about the secret world of magicians and demons that co-exists with theirs. When Mae and Jamie come to them for help, all Nick wants is for them to go away. Again, Nick has the privilege of being the narrator, but unlike with Isabel I think Nick would probably be more likeable seen from outside. He is saved from being unlikeable by his relationship with his brother, and by his jokes. I will forgive a character much if they make me laugh.
2. Christopher Chant from Diana Wynne Jone’s The Lives of Christopher Chant
This is possibly my favourite children’s book. Christopher is a likeable unlikeable character, again, because he tells the story. Unlike Isabel and Nick, his unlikeable traits are not immediately obvious. Instead, Jones gives us, and Christopher, a brilliant last minute reveal of how everyone else in the story feels about Christopher – how they have tried to be nice to him and he has in return behaved like a spoiled brat and a cold ice queen the whole time. I love this because the reveal, when it happens, makes perfect sense, and also because as a child I too was not always aware when I was being rude!
1. Elliot Schafer from Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands
This cutie! So essentially, this book is coming out in August 2017, but much of it was previously posted on Sarah Rees Brennan’s blog as a short story that got out of hand and went novel-length. Which means that although I’ve yet to get my hands on the finished book, I can confidently say that Elliot is the most likeable unlikeable character I have ever come across. He is so grumpy and snarky and hates the character who you would typically identify as the hero of a fantasy novel, Luke. But he has a heart of gold and an appealing streak of pragmatism.