Tuesday, October 4, 2016

10 Great Reads With Despicable Villains

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie about villains, and I decided to list 10 literary bad guys (and one very nasty girl) who've stuck with me. I have an abominable memory, so if I can recall their vileness years after reading the book, you can bet these are some hateable characters. The funny thing is, I enjoyed every single one of these books. I suppose that shows how useful a despicable villain can be in creating a dynamic story and making the hero shine!

1. Dolores Jane Umbridge
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling
This list isn't really in a particular order, but Hogwarts High Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge certainly holds a spot toward the top. You might expect Voldemort to be my HP villain of choice, but at least J.K. Rowling gives some reasoning for his malevolent ways. Umbridge is evil purely because she enjoys it.

2. Captain Jack Randall
"Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon
It's been a while since I've read the book, but I watched the first season of the show much more recently, and Black Jack Randall is a sadist, a rapist, a manipulator, and just generally the scum of the earth.

3. Brother Luke and Dr. Traylor
"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara
Poor childhood Jude in "A Little Life" was victimized by not one but two abhorrent men, both of whom were in a position to help him if they wished. Instead, they took advantage of a vulnerable young boy in the worst possible ways.

4. President Coriolanus Snow
"The Hunger Games"
Ah, President Snow, power-hungry mass murderer who controls a nation through fear and brainwashing. Like some of the other villains on this list, he gets pleasure out of toying with his targets.

5. Brady Hartfield
"Mr. Mercedes" by Stephen King
I will never forget the horrific scene where Brady does nothing to help his violently dying mother, who has unwittingly eaten some hamburger he poisoned with a blood thinner. Oh yeah, and he's a mentally ill serial killer, too.
(my review)

6. Tom Watson
"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins
Tom Watson, narcissistic sociopath, gets the award for most fucked-up mental manipulation of the people around him. Ugh.
(my review)

7. Charlie Manx
"NOS4A2" by Joe Hill
Charles Manx is an immortal monster of a man who gets his lifeblood by spiriting off little children to a wonderful place called Christmasland in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith. He also preys on vulnerable (though not particularly likable) men to assist him in his abductions.
(my review)

Real-Life Villains
These three are perhaps even more hateable because they're real people.

8. Mutsuhiro Watanabe, aka "The Bird"
"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrad
The Bird took full advantage of his position of power at a Japanese POW camp to be a sadistic asshole who made sure to destroy the faintest shred of hope -- not to mention the joy he took in doling out physical abuse.
(my review)

9. Dr. H. H. Holmes
"The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson
The phrase "gas jets" still gives me the willies after reading this book, which is partly about an 1800s dentist/killer of (many, many) young women for sport.
(my review)

10. Michael Vick
"The Lost Dogs" by Jim Gorant
If you ever had any doubt that Michael Vick participated in the dog fighting ring that was found on his property, this book, penned by one of the investigators in the case, will set you straight. Some of the passages about the absolutely disgusting treatment of the dogs literally turned my stomach.
(my review)


  1. Jack Randall and Umbridge are on my list as well. They definitely top the most vile category for me. And man, I hated The Bird. What an evil human. He is perfect for this list. I wish I would've added him to mine. Great list!
    My Top Ten

  2. OMG! You have totally made my day - adding Michael Vick to your list. I can't STAND the man and nothing anyone can say can make me change you mind. I own that book but have never been able to read it yet. I know it will make me hate him even more, which I highly doubt is possible. I also hated The Bird, even though I never read the book, only watched the movie. Your list is perfect!

  3. Tom Watson is the scum of the earth! I'm so glad he had that meeting with a corkscrew. Great Top Ten! :D My Top Ten Tuesday!

  4. Such good, I mean evil, choices!
    My TTT!
    Happy Reading! :)

  5. I haven't read Outlander yet, just watched the series but Randall is an amazing bad guy. He's so genuinely evil, he makes my skin crawl.

    My TTT

  6. I think the real life are the worst of the bunch, no doubt. And Tom from Girl on the Train- yeah. Great pick, and Snow too.

  7. Great list! I completely forgot about President Snow. He definitely should have been on my list. Outlander is a book that has been on my TBR list for a while. I really need to find out what that book is about.

    My TTT: http://jacquesbooknook.blogspot.com/2016/10/top-ten-tuesday-most-hated-villains.html

  8. And what's scary about Wantanabe is that he was a real person and that there were so many others like him. Part of what makes Unbroken so amazing is Louie forgiving him.

  9. Joe Hill writes a creepy bad guy.
    My ttt

  10. I kind of want to read The Lost Dogs, but I just don't know if I can take it. I have a pit bull who came from an abusive/neglectful situation and I'm just not sure if I can read a whole book about SO MANY dogs enduring such awful treatment. People are horrible.


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