5 Complex Villains I’ve Encountered While Reading | Top Ten Tuesday

October 4, 2016 / 12 Comments / Book List, Book Memes, Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday was super hard for me, because I’m not really into books with true villains.

I’m all about the good guys (and good boys).

If you’re a contemporary reader, you’re going to get a lot of books with real-life characters. Some of them, I admit, are total jerks. But many of them are just more complex than you realize. Like real life, I believe there’s more to people than just good or bad.

So in making this list, I looked for layered, complex characters who presented me with views and ethics that really made me think.

5 Complex Villains I’ve Encountered While Reading

Fairest by Marissa Meyer cover


illuminae book cover


trade me by courtney milan book cover


The Hunger Games book cover by Suzanne Collins


  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book cover J.K. rowling


  1. Levana from Fairest (and the whole Lunar Chronicles series) by Marissa Meyer – Levana is one of the best villains I’ve read in YA, possibly because of Meyer’s willingness to push the boundaries of the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  I’m so glad we got a whole book from her side before Winter so that we really understood what was at stake not only for Cinder and her friends, but for Queen Levana.
  2. AIDAN from Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I don’t even want to explain this one, because people who know the book will know what I’m talking about (“Am I not merciful?”). People who don’t, please just read this book! Nothing terrified me or made me believe in this book more than this…character. 
  3. Adam Reynolds from Trade Me by Courtney Milan (New Adult) – The strangest thing about this romance is that while I enjoyed it and the two protagonists, it was Adam, the father of the hero, who sold it for me. Adam Reynolds is essentially Steve Jobs: he’s a jerk-tastic billionaire who swears like a sailor and is brilliant.  He’s also part of the reason that this book has a conflict, so he’s a textbook case for a dude I should hate. Wxcept that I kind of loved him. If you’ve read Trade Me, let me know if you agree. 
  4. President Snow from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I don’t need to explain this one, right? Snow’s character built as you read the books, and he was creepily scary. Definitely a worthy adversary for Katniss. The more you saw him, the more you realized that he saw what Katniss was before anyone else did. I was genuinely terrified by his encounters with her, and the whole white rose/pure white costume totally made it scarier.
  5. Peter Pettigrew from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I mean, I’m sure everyone is going to say Voldemort. But here’s the thing: Peter scares me more, because he’s the exact kind of villain that no one thinks about. He’s a guy who seems pretty harmless (but isn’t). He likes to hang out (and be a hanger-on) with stronger people, but will switch sides when it benefits him. Voldemort is pretty much just a psychopath, but Peter? He’s a coward. And I think he’s more interesting, more nuanced, and much darker because he was with the good guys for so long. He went for what was easiest and most self-serving in the end. That’s a real-life villain, guys. 

Who are the most complex and interesting villains you’ve read? Did any of mine make your list? Leave a comment and I’ll stop by!
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish to highlight a top ten list related to book blogging, and to get to know fellow book bloggers.

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12 responses to “5 Complex Villains I’ve Encountered While Reading | Top Ten Tuesday

  1. I’m so glad I’m not the ONLY one who had difficultly with this week’s topic. The good guys are my favorite too! 🙂

    Snow made my list too (ugh, that guy is evil) and from what I know of Levana seems like a great fit. 🙂

  2. Oooooooo I really like the way you took your list.
    Levana made my list too this week. She really is such an amazingly written villain and I too really liked that we got an entire book from her POV to be able to see what led her to where she is in the present day.
    I never even thought of Peter Pettigrew, but everything you have said is so true. And it’s interesting how the things that make him a villain aren’t magic based, it’s just the worst parks of humanity.
    Really great list this week, really interest to read 🙂
    My TTT

  3. I liked Suzanne Collins’ portrayal of Professor Snow in the novels. He was nuanced and creepily scary. The things he did were just twisted, but I think his mannerisms scared me more. Peter Pettigrew was a choice I hadn’t thought about.

  4. Ack! How did I forget about AIDAN? I love your list. And I love how you picked Peter Pettigrew out of all the villains in Harry Potter. Voldemort and Umbridge made my list, but I thought about adding the Death Eaters because really, without followers, the bad guys don’t have a leg to stand on. And often those followers do just as much harm if not more than the leader. So I like how you brought that up, how Pettigrew is a type of villain that we should fear, even if he isn’t the most obvious villain. Great list!

  5. I agree SO MUCH with Peter Pettigrew! Like even more than Dolores Umbridge, even more than Voldemort, I really, really hated him and thought he did the worst betrayal of all. At least if you’re evil have the decency to not be two-faced too. 😛

    Here’s my TTT.

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