Well, maybe not to the death. That’s a bit extreme. It’s Top Five Wednesday on Thursday! Because when there are two tornadoes in as many days in your area, you spend less time blogging and more time staring at the colorful radar rainbow. I regret nothing. Especially not defending the following often maligned characters. (See that segue? So smooth.)
- Draco | Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Objectively speaking, the Malfoy family is not exactly a stunning example for how to be model citizens. They’re snide, elitist, racist, insert adjective of choice here. But put yourself in little boy Draco’s shoes for a minute, waaaaay back in Sorcerer’s Stone. His first year at Hogwarts, he is undoubtedly expecting to be top dog – he’s got the money, the lineage and the swagger to rule the school. Then along comes wild card Harry, whom nobody was sure would even be there, who totally steals his thunder! Couple that with the immense pressure to succeed that Draco undoubtedly feels from his demanding, hard-to-please father, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for resentment. He might be rich, but that doesn’t mean home is a bed of roses.
- Warner | Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Ignoring how he develops later in the series, this is specifically directed at the Warner we see in Shatter Me, an unqualified control freak who derives great delight in making Juliet squirm. He’s unrelenting and brutal, but I always preferred him to Adam, who fulfills the role of bland-would-be-love-interest. Warner is suave, self-assured, and interesting. I was about to return this book to the library, unread, when I randomly opened to the scene where Warner is introducing Juliet to his sector’s soldiers, whom he controls with an iron fist. The aura of power he exuded sealed the deal, and I thought “Screw the overdue fines, I have to read this book.”
- Malek | Dark Caravan Cycle by Heather Demetrios
Malek is a piece. Of. Work. He buys teenage jinni Nalia off the Dark Caravan and proceeds to spend three years making her life miserable while simultaneously falling in love with her, but refuses to grant her freedom out of fear of losing her. Not exactly the poster child for a healthy relationship between equals. But while he’s inappropriately possessive, he’s also the only person to point out the flaws of Nalia’s insta-love with fellow jinni Raif, which wins him major points in my book. A few weeks does not a soulmate make, and Malek is the only person who seems to realize that. See my full review of Blood Passage for an expanded rant on the improbability of the relationships in this series, and a continued defense of Malek’s common sense.
- Bean | The Shadow Saga by Orson Scott Card
I don’t feel the need to defend Bean to people in real life as much as I do to the characters in his books. The product of illegal genetic experimentation, Bean’s mind is akin to a computer – sort of a toned-down, more realistic cousin to the movie Lucy. It makes him a brilliant strategist but doesn’t leave much room for things like empathy and the capacity to develop friendships. He frequently comes under fire for being cold, cynical and robotic, but I think he’s great. Sort of an anti-hero to Ender Wiggin’s deeply empathetic character, Bean will always be one of my favorites.
- The entire Twilight series | Stephenie Meyer
These books get sooooo much flak, and not entirely without reason. I had just finished my junior year of high school when Breaking Dawn came out, and my ever-watchful Mother Unit clipped out approximately 8 million newspaper articles about how Twilight glorifies unhealthy relationships. Thank you Mom, I think I came out all right since I’m now happily married to a man who is not a broody bad boy vampire. Bullet successfully dodged. Acknowledging that I haven’t re-read them since then, I remember thoroughly enjoying all four Twilight books while I was in high school. They were fluffy, they were kind of funny, they were distinctly different from my AP European History textbook. Case in point: that same summer, reading Breaking Dawn was the carrot held in front of my proverbial cart while I was plowing through textbooks to score a spot on the Science Olympiad team in the fall. You can do it, Hannah. Just one more chapter about geological formations, then you can read Breaking Dawn. YOU CAN DO IT.
Personally, I’m a big advocate of “read what you like and anyone who disagrees can stuff it. Or get in a shouting match with me, because I love a good argument.” Stick to your guns! Especially if you’ve got a family that likes to ask “Is it a teenage vampire dystopia?” about every book you read…not that I know anything about that. What books will you take up arms to defend?