T5W: Villainous Faves

Top 5 Wednesday is a goodreads group created by Lainey (gingerreadslainey) and now hosted by Sam (thoughtsontomes). This week’s topic is  Problematic Faves.

Characters you don’t want to love, but you can’t help liking.

If I had to answer this – if I had to make a list of characters “I don’t want to love but I can’t help liking” my answer would be none. That’s because I don’t believe characters can be problematic, and I have no problems with liking villains.

Yes, characters can do bad things, but villains are villains for a reason (you can’t have some kinds of narratives without villains!), and if someone tells you you shouldn’t like a villain/a morally gray character… they’re wrong. Also kind of controlling and unable to understand how stories work, but this is another discussion, the one where you have to explain that liking a fictional mass murderer doesn’t mean you would ever want to emulate them.

If the books excuses villanous actions or portrays them as good, the one that’s problematic is the book, not the character. It’s always about the framing. So this isn’t a list of problematic faves – I don’t have those – but it’s a list of my favorite morally gray characters, the ones who fall on the darker end of the spectrum.

Nahadoth from The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms


If you want to try a fantasy book with a not-exactly-villain/heroine romance and a diverse cast, try this one. It’s great. I haven’t read Jemisin’s new series, which is far more hyped and loved, but I almost never see anyone talk about this one? I loved it. I mean, Nahadoth is basically a genderfluid god of chaos.

Tea of the Embers from The Bone Witch


Tea was the main reason I liked this book. She’s a bone witch, a witch that can raise monsters (the daeva) and also the dead. She currently lives on a beach full of bones and she always wear beautiful clothes. I love her.

The Darkling from Shadow and Bone


The Darkling is the character that showed me I loved characters with an evil side. I’ve read this trilogy in 2015 and it’s still one of my favorite YA series.

Bette Abney from Tiny Pretty Things


A mean girl, but not your stereotypical mean girl, Bette Abney is one of the three narrators of the Tiny Pretty Things series. She has one of the most interesting character arcs I’ve ever read, especially in the second book, Shiny Broken Pieces. If you want a book about messed-up teenagers (backstabbing ballerinas, but the adults are worse!) with a diverse cast that is not terribly stereotypical (I’m looking at you, The Thousandth Floor) read this duology.

Shuos Jedao from Ninefox Gambit


I could have made a list only with characters from this book – they are all terrible, I love them – but I’m going to talk about him today. Jedao was one of the best generals in the history of the Heptarchate, up until his last battle, at Hellspin Fortress. There he destroyed two armies, one of them his own, for apparently no reason. He’s currently preserved as a many-eyed ghost – he’s too good at tactics to be killed, but it would be too dangerous to free him. He’s a chatty manipulative bastard and I didn’t expect to like him so much.

What are your favorite villainous characters? What do you think of “problematic faves”?

11 thoughts on “T5W: Villainous Faves

  1. Oooooh, totally agree about framing. Honestly, I despise characters who are terrible but framed as good. Character who do bad things that are framed as bad things, though? My favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same. I hate when authors tell me I should forgive some actions (usually for the sake of a ship). I’ll decide for myself, don’t manipulate me?
      Or violent/really condescending/abusive love interests we’re supposed to find romantic. They could be interesting characters with the right framing, but if the author chose to write just another abusive romance…
      Morally gray/bad characters that are acknowledged to be morally gray/bad in-text? The best, and even if I end up hating them, I will probably find them interesting/well-written characters (Gavin from Bad Romance is an example).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, exactly. For me the worst is when the love interest will do seriously messed-up crap and then it’s NOT ACKNOWLEDGED AS BEING BAD. UGH.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love Tea and I can’t wait to see more of her dark side in the sequel. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sounds really interesting, I’ll definitely check it out once I’ve finished The Broken Earth series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I can’t wait to see what Tea does next, there aren’t enough well-written villainous women in YA. THTK was great, but the rest of the series went downhill for me (the other two books follow different characters and I didn’t like them as much, but I still recommend the first one because I loved it). I want to read The Broken Earth, but it’s so hyped I’m worried…


    1. He’s one of the most loved villainous characters in YA, and I think he deserves this – two years later he’s still a memorable character for me. And same about TGT/SoC: while I don’t know which one I like more, The Grisha is more important to me as it was the first series I truly loved.

      Liked by 1 person

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