Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They are on a brief hiatus with naming themes, so I am using my own theme this week to match my Book of the Month (click here for details): Top Ten YA Villains! Yes, again, this is on a Wednesday… I am behind this week thanks to Independence Day, but I’m powering through!
I am a girl who loves a good villain. Whether male or female or otherly, a well constructed villain really ups the feel and terror of a book. Sometimes in the cliche “I like bad boys” kinda way, and other times in the “they are deliciously evil and I hope I never meet them in a dark alley” kinda way, and other times in the “who dreamt up this monster, they can’t be a good person, but I can’t stop reading” kinda way. Because that’s normal, right? Why shouldn’t I both love and hate villains?
Note: for the purpose of this list, these are some of my favorite villains, rather than trying to rank the most evil villains or whatnot. That would be really consuming.
Who would you have on your favorite villain list? Do you have a favorite villain type (personal / authority figure / all powerful)?
Queen Levana: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
From the very first book, Queen Levana is shown to be a villain of great, evil motivation with powers to match as she bends people’s will to her with ease. I also love how she remains veiled and has mirrors removed from whereever she travels so that people cannot see beyond the beautiful glamour spell that she projects, while her true exterior seems to reflect outwardly just how rotten she is to the core. She is also a seemingly impossible antagonist to overcome, being smart, cunning and having a stunning amount of resources to accomplish her goals.
Thiago (The White Wolf): Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor
Thiago. The Berserker. The hypocrite. The arrogant one. If you have read the series, you will know what I’m saying with Thiago. The things he does, and the things that Karou has to endure and then… yes. All that follows.
Amarantha: A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Amarantha is a bit of a Sauron (LoTR) type figure for the first 60-ish percent of ACOTAR. This menacing figure that we know very little about, only that we should fear it and that those in Prythian DO fear it. But from Feyre’s eyes, we are unsure as to who or what the villain is… including her name. When we finally meet Amarantha, she is shown as a powerful and cruel queen-like character, holding court Under the Mountain and tormenting humans and fae alike for pleasure. If you didn’t read ACOMAF to get over the events of Amarantha’s court, then I don’t know what you are waiting for. That lady was CRAZY, and she was just a general from Hybern…
Warner: Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi
I haven’t actually finished this series yet, but I can tell this is going to be one of my favorites. Warner is not a good person. I know that. You know that. But again, this is one of those “love to hate” kind of situations.
Arobynn Hamel: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
Arobynn… how does one describe the brilliant evil that is Arobynn Hamel? He is a personal villain kind of character. He is not the authority villain of ToG (that would be the King of Adarlan, or Queen Maeve, etc.)… and he is not the nearly all powerful big bad villain (Erawan).
So why is Arobynn on the list and the others are not? Because he is so personal to Aelin, our heroine. He has the closest relationship to her, and to a point you almost find yourself liking him for how he saved her… except for the fact that he kept her safe and trained her for his own selfish needs and so many other spoilery things that I can’t even talk about. When a villain is personal to you, they hold even more power over you to the point where it can be harder to take action against them. They know your thoughts before you do, they know how to word things or act to keep you under their control. And that is what the King of Assassins does best. He will always be one of my favorite villains.
The Darkling, aka Aleksander Morosova: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
I prefer to call him The Darkling, regardless of the fact that he has a real name. He is constructed in a way that, I believe, makes you both want him and hate him. He is a romantic figure, a personal, authoritative and super powerful villain. And that makes him really incredibly interesting and irresistible to read about. In comparison to his romantic rival, Mal, he is so much more intriguing… he is otherly… he has lived an untold number of years (atleast 100+) which makes him akin to mythic creatures often found in fantasy worlds, and yet he also has very humanizing moments.
Cath: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
What I loved about Heartless was that it was look at the journey to becoming a villain. You know where it’s going to end if you’ve ever read or seen Alice in Wonderland.
And yet you can’t help but be spellbound and cheer for the girl who has no ambition for the crown, but longs to be a star baker and live a life full of love. Which makes the ending all the more heart breaking… a great read to see what it takes to break a girl and make her one of the most notorious children/YA villains of all time.
Dolores Umbridge: Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
So, Dolores. She is another example of a personal/authority villain. Much like Arobynn (though not nearly as intriguing, I suppose), she is not the big bad Voldemort… she is, however, incredibly cunning in her actions.
Having placed herself in a position of authority (thanks to her connections at the Ministry), she abuses the position for her own agenda. And exhibits incredibly cruel practices of punishment. She is also classically flawed in that she is arrogant, stubborn, and has very little foresight beyond her own ambition. Still, I would never want to run in to Umbridge (as I am clearly also a member of DA, aren’t we all?).
The White Witch: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The White Witch is an interesting character to me as she never seems all powerful, and yet she does wield powerful magic and is set on ruling over all. And to the point that this book starts, she is the ruler of Narnia… she can be kind and cruel, full of beauty and ugliness. It would be interesting to know more about her backstory and how she came to be how she is.
Marisa Coulter: The Golden Compass (Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman
Mrs. Coulter is a beautiful and brilliant villain. She can be quite intoxicating with her charm, easily winning people over, but then also showing threads of her wickedness when people want to deny her the things that she wants. Also a stubborn and righteous character, you grow to hate her quite easily. Once you realize she is not what she seems as she lures Lyra into her game, it is hard to see her as anything but the villain she is.