Loving a character is a great thing, but let’s face it – sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than hating one. We’re all a little petty, and I’ll admit to it for all of us, as you might not want to, and that’s cool with me. I’d probably deny it if I wasn’t nearly thirty and it wasn’t 2020 and I hadn’t run out totally of Fs to give. (I feel like there should be some typical bisexual finger guns here but I’m on my laptop, so just imagine them…. here.)
More seriously, it takes talent for an author to write a character that you really dislike. Writing a good protagonist is fairly simple (in as far as writing is ‘simple’), but an antagonist? That takes skill. Especially ones that stay with you long after you’ve finished the book, and some of these bad boys (metaphor and literal, I suppose) are from years ago. So let’s get started.
Tamlin – A Court Of Thorns and Roses series
This might be a bit spoilery if you haven’t finished the series as far as some people are concerned, but personally I wasn’t keen on Tamlin from the word go. He used Feyre, was generally a controlling asshat, rude, obnoxious, leading to full on abusive. Even at the end of the first book (look away now if you haven’t finished it), he’s not the one fighting for her. He begs, just sitting there. And reading it the first time (and even more so the times after when I had read the rest of the series), I wanted to shout at him to get up, to prove he loved her like he said he did.
I know there’s a big movement from the fan community for him to have a redemption arc, but personally I don’t want him to have one. Sometimes a tool stays a tool.
My reviews for book one, book two, and book three. Counting down to book four in February!
Dolores Umbridge – Harry Potter series
I’m not a big fan of several characters you’re supposed to dislike, and even some you are, but no one gets under my skin like Umbridge. Her magical racism and hatred lands her in Azkaban eventually, and reading that bonus extra in the three ebooks that were released a few years ago made me genuinely happy. I could find a small amount of sympathy for Snape, and even some for Voldemort, but Umbridge was just a horrible person. I haven’t read the books in years and even just thinking about her fills me with rage.
Javert – Les Miserables
While he might have the most beautiful solo in the musical, the character himself, both in the book and the musical, works with such a dogmatic attitude, making no exceptions for even the extreme circumstances Jen ValJean presents him with, and in the end is so confused and incapable of living with the kindness that was shown to him by a previous convict that he throws himself into the Seine. Talk about a drama queen.
He is a multi faceted character and is certainly fascinating to examine, but I absolutely detest that he wouldn’t just allow that short period of time he’s asked for, and how much hatred he has for a man who was originally just trying to prevent his family from starvation. Grr.
Bella Swan – Twilight series
Is there any character, ever, in anything, anywhere, more of a wet blanket than Bella? She’s just so… eugh. I can’t stand her. I read the books over a decade ago and still get annoyed thinking about her. She’s so bland, and more than that, she’s just utterly dislikable. She has no redeeming qualities. She didn’t even get more interesting when she was turned into a vampire.
Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights
I’m a big fan of classics, and talk about them often here, but one of the classics I absolutely hate is Wuthering Heights. The main reason for that is Heathcliff. He’s infuriating, abusive, and manipulative, and honestly the fact I see him so often turned into this romantic figure by readers makes me question people’s judgement. He’s not a nice character, and I absolutely delight in hating him.
President Coin – Mockingjay (The Hunger Games series)
I debated which President I hated more for several moments when planning out this blog post, because let’s face it, President Snow is a nasty piece of work too. But in the end for me, it had to be the woman who was prepared to do anything to keep power, including firing on children and innocents during the battle of the Capitol.
She was never particularly nice, and used Katniss as a chess piece from the start, including the mission to save Peeta, fully prepared to break Katniss that bit more as long as she could be used to do whatever Coin wanted. When I read the books I was shocked at how easy it was to transition from hating one President to another in a matter of pages, and I wanted to give Katniss a round of applause for the decision she made.
My review of the Hunger Games series is here.
Taryn – The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air series)
I’ve only written The Cruel Prince as I haven’t finished the rest of the series yet, although what I’ve read of The Wicked King just makes her worse. When the other Hot Key Ambassadors and I did a Discord chat about the books recently, we were all pretty united in our hatred of Taryn, which was lovely, because yes – I really love to hate her.
I’ll write about The Cruel Prince at some point soon, but one of the fabulous things about it is the fact that the main character, Jude, is far from perfect. She makes mistakes and she struggles. Taryn, meanwhile, is a people-pleaser to the point that it is sickeningly annoying, as well as actually becoming quite nasty with it. Eugh. Taryn. If I’m right with what I said above about writing a dislikable character being a skill, Holly Black deserves awards.
Do you agree with me? Have you got others to add? Join me in my petty happiness, hate some fictional characters!