Is it actually Wednesday? No. Do I care? NO! I couldn’t let this week slide by, since it gives me a chance to pick a bone with some people, and there are few things I enjoy more than a good argument. Some characters are meant to be disliked. Dolores Umbridge. Mr. Collins. Everyone in The Scarlet Letter. Sorry – that was a universally despised unit in 11th grade English. But then there are those that polarize readers, drawing out the crazies for both the opposition and defense. This week’s Top Five Wednesday is about those unintentionally unlikable characters – not villains, but protagonists and sidekicks that rub you the wrong way. Bring on the hate! But in the nicest way possible.
- Rigg | Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
Clarification: when I say “pick a bone with some people,” I really mean “pick a bone with the Husband Unit, who really likes this book.” I love Orson Scott Card. I do not love this book. Protagonist Rigg drives me up. The. Wall. Despite growing up in the woods as a trapper, when his life does a 180 Rigg is uncannily prepared to face every possible scenario, all the way from a dumpy tavern to elite banking and royal court politics.
He chalks it up to the lessons his now-deceased father imparted as they scampered through the woods, but I swallow that reasoning about as easily as a whole cantaloupe. Rigg is annoying and perfect, but not annoyingly perfect, if that makes sense. Also, his sidekick is named Umbo, whom I like to call Bumbo because he’s all the time bumbling around like a fool. Talking about this book is a guaranteed fire starter with the Husband Unit. However, if you’re looking for a brain-bender time travel sci-fi that might actually give you a headache trying to figure it out, this is for you.
- Ciena | Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
In the strained friendship duo between an Imperial officer and a Rebel pilot, Ciena is the former, which should make her a winner winner chicken dinner. I have a thing for the inner workings of villains and villainous institutions, so the perspective of a Star Wars Imperial officer should be exactly what I’m looking for. And while her sections of the book were my clear favorites, her attitude of unquestioning loyalty was cheesy at best and completely unbelievable at worst. It takes about 2 seconds for her to swallow a half-baked explanation for the destruction of Alderaan, and it only goes downhill from there. It’s only at the very end, when she’s literally struggling to the death with her morals vs. her loyalty that I found her to be an enthralling character.
- Keenan | An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
There’s a lot of chatter online about the love quadrangle that develops in Sabaa Tahir’s runaway hit: Keenan likes Laia who also likes Elias who also likes Helene. Personally, I think that’s bunk. Helene is clearly the shiz, and Keenan is clearly as exciting as a cinderblock. His mysterious rebel facade is my least favorite thing about this book, and I do not find him even remotely attractive. It probably doesn’t help that he’s a decently tall redhead, a description that only brings to mind my younger Brother Unit. So…yeah. Not interested.
- Raif | Blood Passage by Heather Demetrios
There were many many many things I did not like about this book, Raif being chief among them. He’s supposed to be the other half to heroine Nalia, fearless leader of the jinn Revolution, love triumphing across class boundaries, etc. etc. But what he comes across as is the aggravating source of instalove who basically grated on my nerves every time he opened his mouth, and sometimes even when he didn’t. Bleh.
- Sameth | Lirael by Garth Nix
Two words: whiner baby. A few chapters in, Sameth has a hair raising encounter with a nasty necromancer that basically leaves him emotionally crippled for the rest of the book. Despite being a prince and the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, he never manages to suck it up and do his duty, even when his best friend and kingdom are in peril. The worst part is that his floundering ultimately works out in his favor, without him ever getting the slap across the face that he richly deserves. YOU ARE A PRINCE PLEASE STOP MOPING FOR TWO SECONDS AND ACT LIKE IT.
“Well met, Mistress Lirael. This ragamuffin, as your servant so aptly described him, is His Highness Prince Sameth, the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. Hence the bells. But on to more serious matters. Could you please rescue us? Prince Sameth’s personal vessel is not quite what I’m used to, and he is eager to catch me a fish before my morning nap.”
The vessel in question is a bathtub floating down a river. Mogget bringing the truth like thunder, as usual.
Have I alienated anyone? Is your favorite character on this list? I’m sure we can work through it; I’m still on speaking terms with a member of my book club who doesn’t like Helene. JK we’re all good; I love my book club gals. Who do you dislike? Share your list or link in the comments!