It’s not often I dislike a book character; they have to do something really awful or just generally be a horrible person for me to dislike them. Otherwise, I’ll just not have a very strong opinion about them. This means that for this week’s Top 5 Wednesday, I really had to rack my brains to think of some truly unlikable characters. There are a couple of minor characters, some protagonists, and one that is maybe a bit controversial (please don’t hurt me). I’ll start with the more minor characters and work up to the major ones…
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Director of NASA in The Martian by Andy Weir is probably the most vague unlikable character on this list. I don’t despise him, particularly; he’s just not very likable and makes some decisions that makes everyone look at him like, “What on earth do you think you’re doing?!” I understand that he has to make some big decisions that not only affect the global reputation of NASA but also people’s actual lives, but he tends to make them without much thought or consideration behind them.
An example of this is (minor spoiler) when NASA planned to send up a load of supplies on a rocket to Mark Watney on Mars, and the Director decided to launch it before any inspections had been done to save a few days on the launch time. Inevitably, the mission failed and the rocket exploded, meaning absolutely no supplies for Watney. Just a few more days for inspections would have meant yes, he’d have to ration a little longer, but he’d have food and the rocket wouldn’t be in bits in the middle of the ocean.
The Wrong Kind of Clouds by Amanda Fleet
Patrick in The Wrong Kind of Clouds by Amanda Fleet is another person who, although the book is about his disappearance, is a fairly minor character in the story arc. Apart from small flashes of his POV throughout the story, we mainly see what’s going on with the other characters while they try and find him (and I very much preferred it that way). Right from the beginning Patrick wasn’t set up as a very nice or friendly character; he seemed a bit arrogant, like he viewed himself above everyone else, and didn’t care for any of the people he met or the women he slept with and forgot about. I almost didn’t care if he was found or not because I just didn’t connect with his character in any way.
Read my review of this book here.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Amy Dunne’s parents in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn were instantly unlikable for me. I didn’t even need time to grow my dislike towards them; it just existed as soon as they arrived in the story. Just a bit of background: they lost several babies and their daughter Amy was their miracle that survived, and they dote on her – slightly too much. They adore every hair on her head but heavily despise every single mistake or bad choice she makes, and they ‘correct’ these mistakes in their subconscious by writing a children’s book series called Amazing Amy in which the main character is based on a perfect version of their daughter.
I can’t even put into words exactly what it is about them that I dislike. They just seem so snobby and stuck-up and nothing their darling Amy could do is her own fault, it’s always the fault of others (usually her husband Nick, who I’ll come to next). The way they put their daughter on a golden pedestal and exploit her every move for their series of books makes me feel like Amy is only there to exist purely for story content.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (again)
Nick Dunne in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, as I mentioned above, is another character from the same book that I just had to include. Considering that Gone Girl is one of my favourite books probably of all time, there are an awful lot of characters I don’t like. Nick, in a way that is similar to Patrick from The Wrong Kind of Clouds (above) but even worse, is SO arrogant and just generally such a miserable person. I can’t imagine it would be very fun to know him or even have a conversation with him because it would be so dull.
Okay, he’s going through some tough times with his wife being declared missing (possibly dead) and all the blame seems to be pointing towards him. That must put a lot of pressure on the guy. But, that doesn’t give him an excuse to treat every single person he knows, including his twin sister, like dirt. Some of the decisions he makes and the ways he goes about trying to prove his innocence made me want to shake him and tell him to calm down, because he really wasn’t helping himself; he was just making everything worse (but he’s so cocky and arrogant that he probably didn’t even notice he was doing anything wrong).
Read my review of this book here.
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Severus Snape from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is probably the most controversial character to include in an’unlikable characters’ list because he has SO many adoring fans. I’M SORRY, OKAY. (I’m not, really.) I can’t stress enough how much I cannot understand why so many people LOVE Snape so much. Sure, (spoilers in case anyone on this earth doesn’t know his story) we find out at the very end of the series (and his life, oops) that he was in love with Harry Potter’s mother Lily, and he was bullied in school by Lily’s future husband James Potter.
Does that give him an excuse, though, to torment Harry and his friends and (“he was only trying to protect them though bla bla”) verbally and physically abuse them (remember all the times he whacked people across the head with books?) for their whole school lives? NO IT DOES NOT, MR SNAPE. I’m sorry, but your love was unrequited and you’ve been grieving over it for the rest of your life, but don’t take it out on Lily’s son!
(Okay, I can sort of see more into this when I think about it in more depth, with the examples of the times when Snape truly was trying to protect them, but… meh. Just because he has a weird history with a student’s mother and that makes it a bit sad when he tells his story before his death, it still doesn’t make him a very nice character. He’s still cruel and miserable. I’m sorry to anyone I may have upset with my opinion… I warned you it was controversial.)
EDIT: When I posted this on Twitter, fellow blogger Codie came to be and said, “What about Umbridge?!” How could I possibly forget about the most hated women in the world (far more hated than Voldemort himself), Delores Umbridge? Consider her counted in this list too.
I apologise for this post becoming
a bit extremely rambly and ranty towards the end, but I have strong feelings for characters (if you couldn’t tell). Characters are so important: they make a boring story interesting and an interesting story magical. What do you think of my decisions? Please tell me if you agree or disagree with my Snape opinion because I’ve never seen such a divided opinion for one character!