Happy Friday all! Today, I’m participating in my first weekly meme here at Beyond the Read.
Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. I love discussion posts, and Rukky and Dani’s prompts are really thought-provoking and fun to talk about. I’m so excited to join in on the fun!
Even more so because this week’s topic is characteristics of a great antihero/morally gray character. If you haven’t noticed already, I love morally gray characters. In my opinion, what makes them so amazing is their similarity to how we, as real humans, act. Morally gray characters reflect human nature at its best and worst. We all love our golden heroes and heroines, but you and I both know that we’re nothing like them. Personally, I can’t deny that if I were placed in the same circumstances as many of the antiheroes I read about, there would be a fair chance of me becoming as morally gray as them.
There are many reasons for why morally gray characters are magnetic. One important one is that their humanity shows through whatever horrifying things they do. They kill and cheat and steal and stab in one chapter; you recoil. In the next, it’s revealed that they haven’t slept in years because the people they’ve killed haunt their dreams; your heart melts. You extend a bouquet of chocolate flowers to them.
The next reason that I think morally gray characters are so irresistible is their motivation. Take, for example, AIDAN from the Illuminae Files, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. AIDAN is an artificial intelligence system that has gained sentience. He murders hundreds of people and lets loose a devastating plague onto the passengers of the spaceship he controls. He, by all accounts, should be unredeemable.
But. But. He does what he does for the safety of the people his ship is carrying, and, believe it or not, his argument makes sense. Without him, all of the passengers would have died. In a way, he saves the fleet.
To protect you is all I have ever wanted.
Characters like AIDAN make me forget my morals. And that can either be interpreted in as proof of the danger of morally gray characters, or as proof of the power of words.
I like to go with the latter. As long as we remember that the end does not always justify the means, I don’t think morally gray characters are that much of a threat to my moral well-being.
My favorite morally gray characters include:
- Holland Vosijk (Shades of Magic) — I feel sad even describing this precious baby as morally gray; HE DESERVES SO MUCH BETTER FROM THE WORLDDDD
- Lila Bard (Shades of Magic) — Lila…….. is someone you either love or hate; there is no in-between
- Alina Starkov & basically everyone in the Shadow & Bone trilogy — Leigh Bardugo said herself how much she loves writing morally gray characters, and it shows; so excited to read Six of Crows, which is apparently a party themed in morally gray
- Queen Levana (Lunar Chronicles) — Fairest was all kinds of disturbing, but she still breaks my heart
- Everyone in A Song of Ice and Fire — just… respect for how messed up all these characters are
This post was so fun to write! I’m always on the lookout for books featuring morally gray antiheroes/anti-villains, so please share any recommendations in the comments below!