TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Unlikable Protagonists

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I am the literal queen of unlikable protagonists, but hoo boy, this is a tough one. Not because I can’t think of any unlikable protagonists that I enjoy, obviously, but because a lot of other people’s unlikable protagonists are actually… quite likable to me (Holden Caulfield) and a lot of protagonists that are incredibly likable to others are unlikable to me (Hermione Granger). But I’m going to do my best here.

You will notice that all of these hail from my favorite genre, my ‘home’ genre, if you will: horror. That is because if a protagonist is meant to be unlikable, and they are not a serial killer or crazed lunatic, I probably will find them terribly uninteresting or underwhelming. But that’s just me and my fondness for murderous protagonists.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to my four fucked up asshole sons, Victor, Light, Herbert, Patrick, Andrew, and Jay.

1. Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein)

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Alright, I’m just gonna come out and say it. The reason Victor is an unlikable protagonist isn’t because he graverobbed his way to a weird human-quilt of a son and played god out of sheer curiosity. Nah, that ain’t it. What makes Victor difficult to read isn’t the fact that he’s a creep, it’s the fact that he’s so goddamn whiny and dramatic about it.

This little bitch brings a dead body back to life and is so utterly shook by it that he has to lie in bed and be coddled by his buddy Henry Clerval for four months. Yeah, you read that right. Four months. Like, dude, you’re the one who wanted to do this. You should have psyched yourself up more beforehand. You can’t go bringing things back from the dead for science and then getting spooked when it works.

Later, when he’s finally gotten over it, he discovers his little brother William has been murdered and he automatically assumes the creature he made is the thing that did it. I mean, he did, but way to assume. So instead of, y’know, taking responsibility for his weird undead manchild, what does he do? Runs away to the mountains to sit there and marinate in his guilt until the creature hunts him down to call him out on his bullshit.

Victor, my dude, you didn’t think this one through. Still, I can’t help but love the little asshole. He was basically the 18th century equivalent of a college dude fucking around in his basement. He’s like the annoying, disappointing son I will never have.

2. Light Yagami (Death Note)

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Look, another smart white guy playing god. Light Yagami is even worse than Victor, because he’s not even a college student, he’s a high school student. So he’s walking down the street one day and he notices this weird black book lying on the ground, so naturally he picks it up, and sees it says DEATH NOTE on the front in creepy letters. Cool. He takes it with him, which, if this were a horror movie and he was a stereotypical protagonist, would immediately mean the audience yelling at the screen what dumbass he is. But nah, he’s not a dumbass. Just a massive dick.

The first thing he does after he figures out what this book does is decide that he’s gonna be some sort of couch potato vigilante, extracting justice without even having to leave the comfort of his room. He vows to rid the world of naughty people, not even seeming to consider that murdering people might be a little naughty, too.

Light is the dickest of dicks. He basically kills anyone who even gets close to figuring out he’s the one magically murdering all the city’s criminals, he uses the only people who really enjoy his company to his own careless advantage, and (and maybe this should have been first on the list), he thinks it’s ultimately his decision who deserves to live and who deserves to die. He’s basically a lazier Dexter Morgan.

But, honestly, he’s pretty fascinating. Y’know, from a psychological perspective. And I can’t really bring myself to dislike him. Plus, he gave us this gem:

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Literally murdering people under the guise of eating potato chips. What a legend.

3. Herbert West (Herbert West: Reanimator)

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I will admit, my introduction to Herbert was via the movie version of Re-Animator rather than the story. But it did inspire me to go read the story, which… alright, I didn’t enjoy quite as much as the movie, but was still pretty good, cause, y’know, it’s H.P. Lovecraft. Now, Herbert is yet another white college guy playing god… hold on, could it be that I have a type? No, c’est impossible! Eh heh… heh….

Anyway, Herbert is like Victor in a lot of ways. He’s a college student, he’s weirdly obsessed with bringing people back from the dead, and he’s totally fine with robbing graves in the name of science. There are a couple of key differences between Herbert and Victor, however. The first is that, unlike Victor, Herbert is actually happy when he succeeds, and doesn’t cry about it like a little bitch. The second is that Herbert drags someone else into it, our narrator, who has no name in the short story but is named Dan Cain in the movie.

Herbert could not give a metric shit about anyone but himself and his lil science project throughout the course of the story (which is actually pretty meaty for a short story), and continually forces the narrator/Dan into his schemes. However, despite the fact that he’s a selfish, narcissistic asshole, there’s still something rather endearing about him, in both the book and movie versions but especially the movie.

4. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)

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I know people who absolutely despise Christian Bale solely for the fact that he starred in the movie version of this book and was such a dick the entire time. And honestly, I don’t blame them at all; Patrick is everything I hate about men rolled up into one shitty little package. He’s rich, self-obsessed, petty, shallow, misogynistic, violent toward women… basically, if he were uglier, he could be president.

But there’s one thing that saves the character of Patrick Bateman, and that is the fact that he is literally a spoof on the type of men mentioned above, written by a gay man, and presented as a social commentary (much like Chuck Palahniuk). There’s just something about Patrick that’s inherently hilarious, something that keeps me from being completely disgusted and horrified whenever I read the book. Bret Easton Ellis knows exactly what to exaggerate and what to leave fucked up, from Patrick’s obsession with his coworker’s business cards to the horrifying way he treats the prostitutes he’s hired (and renamed).

5. Andrew Compton and Jay Byrne (Exquisite Corpse)

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Okay these guys are the ones I have the least excuse for liking as much as I do. They’re god-awful people. They’re serial killers, necrophiliacs, possibly the worst couple to ever exist. But dude, dude. They’re such great characters. Villains are so often queer-coded without being made explicitly gay, gay characters are so often woobified and made to look perfect in an attempt to not offend. Having two genuinely horrifying gay villains (who are still protagonists; the entire book is from their points of view) is so cool to me.

Not to mention, serial killers in horror, especially this kind of splatterpunk, extreme horror, are usually misogynistic men who get off on raping and killing women, which, as a horror fan, I won’t go so far as to say is wrong to write about (the horror of it is quite clear), is still disgustingly common enough to make me groan whenever I encounter another one (which is why I stopped reading a lot of Edward Lee, even though I love his style, and prefer Jack Ketchum these days, who seems to have more varied protagonists).

The way Poppy Z. Brite (who, by the way, is my favorite author of all time) gets in these guys’ heads and shows us why they do the things they do, how they feel when they do it, what they get out of it, et cetera, is beyond fascinating. I’ll take these fictional serial killers over any true crime nonfiction, thanks.


And that’s it for this week! Tune in next time for another Top 5 Wednesday! I should have a couple more entries up this week, but if I get lazy and put them off, I’ll see you then!

♥ Kell

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Side Ships

Hey guys! Welcome back to Top 5 Wednesday.

Before I begin, I must gush at you. Last night I got to meet my favorite author in the whole world, Victoria Schwab, for the second time. She was touring with Madeleine Roux, author of the Asylum series, and she was a total delight as well. Talking with Victoria never gets old, and I don’t think it ever will. She’s a writer after my own heart. They took some questions from a local bookstore, then from the audience, and as a fellow writer I loved listening to their perspectives on writing and publishing. And Victoria remembered me from last time! It probably helps that I have the same name as one of her main characters.

Maddie: Do you want [the book signing] personalized?
Me: Sure! My name’s Kell, with two Ls.
Victoria: Hell yeah it is!

Anyway, if their tour comes anywhere near you, I highly recommend you high-tail it to the bookstore or library or wherever they’re speaking and have a listen!

Enough with my fangirling. Here’s Top 5 Wednesday!

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This week’s prompt is ‘Side Ships: Tell us your favorite relationships that don’t involve the protagonist!’

Now, I’m not entirely sure if this is supposed to be only canon ships, only non-canon, etc, so I’m gonna have a lil of both. You will notice a trend here, and that is the fact that I absolutely despise ‘will they or won’t they’ relationships. I usually either want them to be literally married and together forever, or never have a chance of getting together and have a ship composed entirely of fanon stuff (there is one, arguably two, notable exceptions here, but for the most part, this holds true). This is because I’m an immature little pissbaby and hate devoting myself to something that isn’t set in stone, at least in regards to fiction.

You will also note that most of these are het. In fact, all but one are het. This is because most, if not all, of my same-gender ships involve protagonists. Or are in shows and movies rather than books. Like, my Hunger Games OTP, Johanna and Katniss, is out, as is Rhy and Alucard from the Shades of Magic trilogy (Rhy being a POV character, I count him as a main character). As is Hannibal and Will from Red Dragon. And so on.

But let’s get started.

1. Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour (Harry Potter)

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Oh gosh, where do I even get started with these two. Bill was my favorite Weasley since the moment we met him. Harry was not the only one completely mesmerized with his coolness. And Fleur, I was utterly smitten with as a child. Pretty, graceful, and a badass who could hold her own in the Triwizard Tournament? Sign me up. But when it was revealed that Bill and Fleur were together, I was a goner. I couldn’t care less about Hermione and Ron, or Harry and Ginny. These two were where it’s at. I love their dynamic, a true beauty and the beast story (I choose to forget the part where the movies made Bill’s horrible scars just a couple little scritches across his face). And the fact that Molly hated Fleur so much, as did Ginny and Hermione, and fully expected her to be so shallow she would dump Bill as soon as his face wasn’t quite as handsome, only to have Fleur utterly insulted by the idea she would be so flippant about his looks. That she proved them wrong. A part of me, the part of me that never quite left my werewolf days, does wish that Bill would have been bitten and gone full werewolf, like Remus, but I guess that’s a dick move to wish on poor Bill. Also, I may have once written a fic where Bill was mesmerized by Fleur’s beautiful veela pubes. Maybe.

2. Esme and Carlisle Cullen (Twilight)

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I am unashamed to admit that I loved Twilight when it first came out. The first three books, that is. Once the weird baby stuff started happening, I was outie. But I have a bit soft spot for vampire lovers, and I mean romance between two vampires, not one vampire and one human, which gets old pretty fast. Another thing about me is that I love doctors. Medical doctors. So Carlisle was my favorite from the beginning, and that combined with my love of vampire couples meant I really wasn’t very enthused with Edward and Bella and wanted to spend all my reading time thinking about Carlisle and Esme. The fact that he sired her in order to save her life, after remembering her ever since he treated her such a long time before… I love it. And their decision to save many of their pseudo-children from near-death by siring them, continuing their tradition of sorts, it’s a type of familial camaraderie that I’m a sucker for in fiction. So yeah, Twilight sucks, but I liked it anyway. And I still have a soft spot for Carlisle and Esme.

3. Haymitch Abernathy and Effie Trinket (The Hunger Games)

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My first non-canon ship, of sorts, although honestly it’s so widely accepted by fanon that they put a lil reference to it in the last movie, which was very very sweet. But I fell in love with them in the books first, their bickering and complete opposition, the way they clashed so incredibly and yet completed one another in Katniss and Peeta’s lives as sort of parental figures during the games. The addition of their little kiss before saying goodbye in the movie adaptation of Mockingjay is honestly something I was actually happy they didn’t stay true to the book for. I think it added something valuable instead of just needlessly fleshing out what needed nothing extra. Admittedly, my favorite way to imagine Haymitch and Effie are in some sort of modern AU, giving them a situation to get to know each other that isn’t as awful as the Hunger Games. Maybe things would have been different for them if not for the games hanging over their heads. Who knows.

4. Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand (Game of Thrones)

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This, to me, counts as a queer ship because both of them are bi/pansexual. House Martell is my favorite by far (I have their sigil tattooed on my leg, after all) and one of my favorite things about them is that they don’t treat their bastards as less than. Oberyn isn’t looked down upon for having Ellaria as his paramour, and Ellaria isn’t looked down upon for having children with a man out of wedlock. Another thing I love about them is that they’re so secure in their relationship and sexuality that they have zero problem bringing other people into it, not quite polyamory, but plenty of sharing, even to the extent of choosing the participants of their threesomes and foursomes together, no less casually than a couple shopping for groceries. I love that Ellaria isn’t bitter toward the Sand Snakes for being Oberyn’s children with other women, and that she treats them as her own daughters. They’re just so comfortable and trusting with each other, and so undeniably in love.

5. Enjolras and Grantaire (Les Miserables)

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Finally, you say, some gays! What’s that? Tragic gays? No way, I want my money back! Oh, but I love them so much. I will tell you, Les Miserables is the longest fucking book I’ve ever read, and I was bored to tears for a good 75% of it. Victor Hugo’s writing is just so heavy and wordy and pointlessly detailed that I can’t bring myself to like it. But I did like nearly all of the dialogue points, and once you get to Les Amis de l’ABC there gets to be quite a lot of it, so it was easier to pay attention to without nodding off. But that’s when I read the gayest quote I’ve ever read in my life, from Grantaire to Enjolras, and I’ve not forgotten it to this day. It wasn’t intended as romantic (as far as I know), and yet it’s still the most romantic thing I can ever remember reading.

Enjolras: You don’t believe in anything.
Grantaire: I believe in you.

That entire conversation was gay as shit, but I won’t list the entire thing. Go… well, I can’t in good conscience recommend you read that entire book, but go flip through it til you find that line of dialogue and read the whole page.


That’s it for Top 5 Wednesday this week! I should have another entry by the end of the week, about the Women in Refrigerators trope. If for some reason that doesn’t get up before next week, I’ll see you then!

♥ Kell

 

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: 5 Books For My Hogwarts House

Hello friends! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, brought to you by Top 5 Wednesday on GoodReads, is ‘Books For Your Hogwarts House’. My house is Slytherin (which… may have already been obvious), house of ambition, cunning, unfathomable camaraderie, and loyalty so fierce it can become deadly.

Before I start on these books I’ve chosen for my beloved house, I feel as if I must begin with a disclaimer: as a Slytherin, I’m aware, of course, that we are not ‘the evil house’, that there are Slytherins who aren’t pure evil, however, horror is my favorite book genre. So there’s gonna be some characters in here that maybe aren’t the best representatives of Slytherin as a whole, but are just some of my favorite characters because they happen to be in horror novels. There are a couple of non-horror ones, though!

So let us begin!

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Hah! Like we could get through a Slytherin book rec list without talking about Amy Dunne. This bitch is a poster girl for Slytherin house: resourceful, ambitious, determined, cunning, good at making all her moves behind the scenes and under the radar.

Gone Girl tells the story of a man named Nick Dunne, who’s approaching his fifth wedding anniversary with his wife, Amy. Suddenly, just before the date approaches, Amy disappears, leaving behind a diary filled with accusations toward Nick, that he’s been abusive, that she’s frightened of him. The only problem is, Nick hasn’t done any of those things (and we know this; the first half of the book is from his point of view). But what motive does Amy have to make all of this up about him? And how far will she go?

Gone Girl is probably most famous for the movie starring Rosamund Pike and Batman Ben Affleck, and, admittedly, I saw the movie before I read the book, so a lot of the twists and turns were perhaps lost on me. Still, in a twisted way, Amy was someone who awed me, someone so intelligent and calculating, using her powers for evil instead of good. A Slytherin through and through.

2. The Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris

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Another incredibly smart and suave baddie. I’m pretty sure everyone on planet Earth has heard of Hannibal Lecter, at least in passing, mostly because of his portrayals by Anthony Hopkins and Mads Mikkelsen. But I think less people have read Thomas Harris’s original books, which is a shame, because they’re amazing.

The first book in the series, Red Dragon, is told from the point of view of Will Graham, an FBI instructor with a special gift for hunting madmen, like Hannibal himself. But it’s not enough to be talented at catching killers; this time around, he has to take the advice of a killer himself, visiting Hannibal where he sits dormant in a high-security prison and taking what advice he gives Will in order to bring his current maniac to justice.

But it’s not just Hannibal I think represents Slytherin in these books. Will himself (and later, Clarice) shows remarkably Slytherin-ish tendencies himself; who else would use a convicted cannibalistic serial killer as a valid resource in a case, just because he knew that Hannibal would have exactly the mindset he needed? No, no, Ravenclaws would be too sensible, Gryffindors too proud, Hufflepuffs too loyal to the justice system. Will Graham is a Slytherin, through and through.

3. The Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo

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This one is definitely not horror, although I guess it has some spooky elements. This is actually a middle-grade series, that I read when I was much younger, probably still in elementary school, but I still remember it quite vividly because I loved it quite a bit. It has the added bonus of being set in a school not unlike Hogwarts itself, but with academic departments instead of houses. Let me explain.

The first book, Midnight for Charlie Bone, introduces us to Charlie, a little guy totally normal except for the fact that he can hear people in photographs talking. Turns out, he’s the descendant of some weird dude called the Red King. And he’s not the only one. There are actually quite a few kids around his age who appear to be descendants of this Red King, and all of them go to a place called Bloor’s Academy, a school for prodigies in music, art, and drama.

But what would a boarding school story be without a slimy little Draco Malfoy type? Yeah, we got one of those. His name’s Manfred Bloor, which is the nerdiest name in existence and reminds me of Mandark from Dexter’s Laboratory. He’s the son or grandson or something of the person who founded Bloor’s Academy, and a descendant of the Red King himself. Now that I think about it, the only reason I included these books is because he reminds me of Draco. whoops.

4. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

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This badass, amazing book gets double the points because Nefertiti was a real, badass, amazing lady, and a Slytherin without a doubt. There is nothing I love more than a ruthless, ambitious woman, and this novel by Michelle Moran shows off Nefertiti’s Slytherin side in spades. I really am overdue to reread it.

The story is actually told by Nefertiti’s younger sister, Mutnodjmet, and the two of them are the youngest women in a powerful Egyptian family. Because of this, Nefertiti is all set to marry Amunhotep, Egypt’s newest pharaoh, and honestly, a little bit of a nutjob. He’s talking about worshiping only one god, to totally ignore Egypt’s pantheon, which is basically making all of the priests hate him. But she’s alright with it, as long as she gets to be queen, which, hey, same.

Throughout Amunhotep’s rule, Nefertiti just goes with whatever nonsense he’s spewing in order to maintain her high status, all the while making sure her sister wants for nothing. Until they start realizing the priests might not just kind of hate Amunhotep. They might despise him enough to kill him. So, yeah, probably do something about that.

5. The Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay

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Last but not least, a Slytherin favorite. This was a thing I actually read the book of before the show came out, which was cool (but not like, necessary). But this is a story where a Slytherin uses their powers for (debatable) good.

Dexter is a serial killer (stay with me!) who only kills shitty people. Honestly, that’s enough for me to consider him not a horrible person, though I know my standards are a little low. He also, conveniently, has a job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department, so he gets front row seats to all the really horrible people and the evidence that surrounds them. Which is awfully handy.

However, one fine day, they come across a crime scene that looks… weirdly similar to the stuff Dexter himself does to all the dicks he disposes of. A copycat killer. He’s half flattered and half creeped out. Cause, on the one hand, hey, it’s nice to have your work appreciated. But on the other hand, what if this other dick-killer is using this as a threat? What if he knows who Dexter really is? Or even worse, what if it’s Dexter himself doing these things, and he somehow doesn’t remember it?


That’s it for Top 5 Wednesday this week! Join me next week for Side Ships, aka ships between secondary characters I totally love. Until next time!

♥ Kell

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Fandoms I’m No Longer In

Before I get started on this Top 5 Wednesday (something that’s going to become routine, by the way), I need to share some special news. Well, it’s probably not special to anyone but my boss, Jen, and I, but…

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I HAVE ACQUIRED MY MOST ANTICIPATED READ OF 2017, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI!

Listen, y’all. I normally avoid het romance like the dang plague. But Jen has talked this up to me so much that she made me shake like a nervous chihuahua waiting to get my hands on it. It’s about an aspiring web designer (Dimple) whose Indian parents have arranged her to meet Rishi, a respectable Indian boy they want her to marry. Dimple cringes at the idea of an arranged marriage, but Rishi is very into the idea of the tradition, and when his parents tell him he’s going to the same web developers’ camp as Dimple, with the intent of courting her, he’s excited as heck. The only problem is, while he knows their parents’ intent here, Dimple doesn’t until they meet.

POC romances are the only het I’ll read (hence why I enjoyed Everything, Everything), since it often seems to avoid the tropes that annoy me most about cishet romance, and this sounds cute as heck. So I’m extremely excited to start reading it. I’m strongly considering disappearing to the bathroom at work for ten minutes to read. They’ll think I’m pooping, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

ANYWAY. Yes. Top 5 Wednesday.

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