A book is only as good as its villain. These are the characters that are so, so good at being bad. They are heartless, vicious, and entirely without compassion. You love to hate them, or hate to love them, either way you cannot get enough of them. These are my all-time favorite villains.
5 – Lucian Mendel – How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
While thinking of what to add to this list I remembered this book, one I had not thought of since 2013, almost four years ago. This book was great, or so I thought back when I read it. Of all the things that happened in this novel the two I most remember are Peter Pan and the headmaster of the academy, Lucian Mendel. As this is not a very well-known book I feel the need to explain the plot, which I will do with this quote from the book:
“Where’s the course called How to Lead a Life of Crime? That’s what this is about, isn’t it? You’ve got everyone thinking this is the best school in the country, but it’s really just a Hogwarts for hustlers.”
– Flick to Lucian
Lucian is the smooth talking, charismatic head of this “Hogwarts for Hustlers”, taking children and turning them into villains that he can later send out into the world as educated, respected people who will do his bidding. The thing that makes Lucian so terrible is the fact that only his students and alumni can know about the school, so basically, if you fail you die, usually in a terrible, gruesome way for the entertainment of the other students.
4 – Big Brother – 1984 by George Orwell
Must I really explain why Big Brother, an omniscient, evil, entity watching your every move is scary? Must I really explain what makes Big Brother evil?
3 – A.I.D.A.N. – Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Think of this scenario: you just broke up with your boyfriend moments before your planet starts getting attacked and you must flee on a couple of space ships that only just got your distress call by accident. Then, while on these ships, with the knowledge that most of the people you know did not make it off the planet, and away from your loved ones since you, your mom, and your (ex)boyfriend, are on different ships, a deadly virus breaks out, killing everyone on board. All of this while you are being chased across the galaxy by the same people who attacked your home planet. What could possibly make this worse? A rouge, omniscient, omnipotent A.I. system by the name of A.I.D.A.N. who may or may not be trying to kill all its passengers. That is who. A.I.D.A.N. was my absolute favorite character in this novel. He was the most complex, most interesting “person” in the story, the one that, for me, drove the entire plot. Also, the A.I.D.A.N. chapters were by far the coolest, most interesting to read chapters in this already excellently formatted novel.
2 – Queen Levana – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Every fairytale needs a villain, it is they who start the story, who entice the plot. Thankfully, the Lunar Chronicles has Levana to fill the role. She is a cold, calculating murderess who will stop at nothing to be queen and rule as the fairest of them all. She is cruel, heartless, and not at all afraid to get her hands bloodied, willing to murder her niece, mutate children, infect the earth with a deadly virus, and send the Moon to war with the Earth, if only she gets what she wants. You can’t be more evil than that.
1 – The Darkling – The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
On many occasions, have I mentioned that the Darkling is my favorite villain of all time. His is one of my favorite villainous lines of all time in which he says “fine…make me your villain.” If that is not dedication to villainy, I don’t know what is. He is someone so haunted, so alone, so powerful and deadly. He is so far beyond the point of possible redemption, and yet, I wanted nothing more than seeing him redeemed. Let’s just say that if Leigh Bardugo ever decided to make a full novel about the Darkling before the Grisha Trilogy, I would be down for it.
What are your favorite villains? Let me know in the comments.