Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On Villain POV's

Today’s topic is something that deeply interests me and I’d love to hear your take on this. Who doesn’t love a good villain, right? For instance, Tom Riddle is the prime example of a twisted, intriguing and malicious villain in my opinion. I would looooove to know what goes on inside that head of his (then again, perhaps not; it’d probably be too evil to handle lol). I was wondering, what makes a good villain POV?



Let’s start with some examples. Lately I’ve seen quite mixed views on a Harper debut Tease by Amanda Maciel. After seeing so many DNF notes, Mel's quite positive review sort of got me thinking about this topic. People don't like the bitchy MC and the slut-shaming etc, but at the same time a lot of us (including me) say that it'd be so interesting to see a book from a villain's POV. Does that only apply to fantasy/dystopian books? Since when you get a POV from a villain in a contemporary genre, people are mostly turned off by it. Another example entirely is Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi (at one point it was a villain’s POV; not so sure anymore) which people devoured and loved since even though he’s a villain, the insight to his mind is very much appreciated in this case.


Does a good villain POV depend on the genre? Author? Writing? The villain's gender?

It looks like the audience liking a book depends a lot on the villain having some redeeming qualities as well. After all, it’s more interesting to read about a multi-dimensional character than one with just one or two personality traits. What’s more, I’ve noticed that villain POV novellas/books in a series work better than standalones. Also, does liking a villain POV book depend on what kind of topics authors tackle? Is destroying the world or killing people more interesting and vicious than just calling people names and bullying them? Because I’ve noticed that readers are intrigued by a killer’s POV, but not necessarily a bully’s perspective. Even if they are initially interested in it, they quickly become hateful towards the bully. I mean, it’s a bully! You can’t sympathize or anything, right? You know how we always complain about the good girl-bad boy storylines? When we get a gorgeous, rich, bitchy MC who has it all and perhaps by the end of the novel realizes that there’s more to the world than nail salons, designer clothes and hooking up with jocks, we still complain. It’s like authors can’t seem to get it right no matter what they do. Then again, it’s not like you can please everyone.


So tell me: do you like villain POVs? If so, what’s so alluring about them? If not, perhaps you could elaborate on why you don’t appreciate them. Would you like to see more of them? Do you have any great villain POV's to recommend?

37 comments:

  1. it's a good question. I don't think the genre matters but well I'm trying to think about a book like that. It's difficult because I'm not sure I have read one. But in fact I think that I did whe, we have multiple POVs like in fantasy. And I think it's interesting to see another aspect like that. But I should try a whole book like that to see how my feeling is about it.

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    1. It's the most common--the fantasy one and I really like those. Mostly. I hope that someone will recommend a good villain POV so I can give it a try :D

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  2. Interesting topic. I do like reading from a villain's perspective (not Warner's, though) but it depends on what they do, say and think. I like how we get into the mind of someone who thinks differently. I just can't stand it if they don't have their reasons for being "evil," or doing whatever horrible things they do. Like you said, I think it matters whether or not a villain has some redeemable qualities.

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    1. Ha! I'm surprised you aren't a fan of Warner (well, his POV at least) since there are so few of us who aren't enamoured by him :) Yes! Reasons behind one's actions--that's a good place to start with a villain :D

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  3. Ah this was the post you were talking about! :D

    Personally, I am always interested in new and different ideas--ideas like writing from the victim's perspective. So yeah, I get interested and I like how the author is willing to take a brave step forward. I do see why people are turned off by slut-shaming, I do to. But only when it's used pointlessly. But in Tease, it's about the slut-shaming. It's needed there. And the book itself, is a book that all teens need to read.

    So yes, I would definitely like to see and read more of them. I've read just about enough books with heroes and Mary Sues.

    Absolutely brilliant and thoughtful post, Siiri! <33

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    1. That's the one :D Agreed to everything you said. I feel like it's important to read those kinds of books and see what bullying can do to people, but yes, if it's just for.. idk, to throw it out there in random places while the book is about something else entirely? That's what bothers me. Thanks, you! x

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  4. Villian point of views are really intriguing to be honest! When we read about someone whose perfect and can do no wrong, that's where it gets boring. I can't wait to read Tease actually, I wonder if I'd like it.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. Agreed, I love me some redemption and flaws and all that :) I hope you enjoy!

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  5. I like reading from a villain's POV, just so long as it's done well. I'm a fan of anti-heroes too. However, I can't stand it when they take over a book, like the Lessers in Ward's BDB. I HATE those chapters.

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    1. OHHHH!!! I hate those Lessers' ones too :D I'm glad I'm not the only one.

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  6. I absolutely love reading books with chapters that are written in the villain's POV. I love getting to know their motivation behind their acts and I'm always up to read more about twisted villains, especially. But, I can't stand villains who aren't really villains, but are only sappy fools who are secretly in love with the heroine and will be saved by their love or some shit like that.

    I especially like reading murder mysteries where you get a POV here and there from the villain. It adds to the story and makes it even more atmospheric. And the eviler the villain, the better the POV.

    I do admit that not all authors know how to craft a good villain. Too often, the villain turn out to be cliched and not as evil as I expected, but when done well, a villain POV is pretty darn amazing (as long he is not part of a damn love triangle -_-).

    Great post, Siiri! I'm super curious about Tease btw. Some people loved it, others hated it, so I'm curious to see what I think of it.

    P.S I hate you. You know why! :P

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    1. Agreed! I love the one in The Raven Boys for instance. It's not overbearing and adds to the story when mixed with the main characters' POV's. Bhahaha. The first paragraph of your comment, I can't stop loving. ILYSM!!! <3 And same for Tease--I'm very intrigued about it actually.

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  7. I love to hate a good villain Siiri! And I'm all for a villain's POV, though I will admit I'm more likely to work hard to find something to like in a paranormal/supernatural villain than a human one in a contemporary novel. I don't really know why. That being said, I need there to be something redeemable about said villain - something that makes me feel like maybe it's just the next chapter where he/she will prove that everything I'm hoping is true about them actually is, and there's more to them than meets the eye. It's like a challenge - almost as though I can will some humanity into them if I just try hard enough:)

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  8. I'm so excited to read Tease! I just got the audio yesterday!
    I've seen all the negative reviews where people are complaining about the MC and I'm like, did you not read the blurb? She's a fucking bully! I don't know what kind of bullies they've come across, but where I'm from bullies are mean and can be horrible people. What were you expecting???
    If you're gonna give me a villain, I want you to go all out. Don't half ass it. BUT, you're right. The villain has to be redeemable at some point and learn from their mistakes. It's a fine art of timing this perfectly so that it's not too little, too late.
    I love seeing villains in contemporaries because we all know these people exist in real life. It annoys me when people are so quick to cry 'slut-shaming!' when really it's just a character flaw. One the character hopefully learns from...

    I also like reading from the POV of killers, like the POV chapters we got to read from the serial killer in The Body Finder books. Those were creepy and added the perfect mystery and chilling element to the story. These characters don't need to be likable or redeemable, they just serve as better insight to the story I think.

    Love the post!

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  9. I don't like villain POVs for one reason: I like to keep the mystery. I feel like too much is revealed in villain POVs and they're humanised too much / or lots of reasoning is revealed. It's better to have them be bad-ass and let us wonder about their motives, or wonder if they're truly good deep down. It makes for a better character, I think!

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  10. I guess that depends on the execution and the author's intention. With a true villain, I'm not interested unless it's to help drive the plot. If it's more of a "misunderstood" or where we don't have all the facts and that character isn't actually a villain, then it can definitely change the story.

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  11. Great topic, and I know myself I love when a book gives me the pov of the serial killer etc. To me it depends on the execution. The character no matter how horrible has to be fleshed out and understood. Even if they are seven ways to crazy I need to know their reasoning. Bullies are hard, but I have always believed that bullies bully for a reason..and we need to understand the root cause. Fantastic topic.

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  12. I've always loved reading books where we see it from the villain's POV. There's Tease by Amanda Maciel and Permanent Record by Leslie Stella. While I love me some heroes and heroines to root for, sometimes we get to see much more complexity in the villain POV. Take Tease for example... it was a confronting read. It made me uncomfortable and disgusted, but at the same time, it also made me think. While I don't think her reasons for bullying redeemed her at all, it made me realize bullying and slut-shaming cannot be stopped by stopping and catching one bully at a time. Such horrible things can only be stopped if we improve the factors and environment that make them act like this in the first place. We need to get to the very bottom to topple the top. If we pluck them out one by one, their places will only be replaced by new bullies in the next generation, so on and so forth. It would never stop the cycle. Tease made me realize that.

    Of course, that's really a different story altogether... Contemporary books have much more familiar struggles to us. As long as the villain is complex (like the one in Vicious by V. Schwab or Macbeth in Shakespeare's Macbeth) it can be interesting. The ones who are evil for the heck of it though are pretty boring.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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  13. Before I read a few reviews of Tease, I would have said that I love ALL villain POVs. Now I have to amend that statement--I love villain POVs MOST times--most writers don't write villain POVs for truly despicable characters (like the one(s?) in Tease). When the villain is a sympathetic character, I often think their perspectives are the most entertaining. I think villains have the capacity to be much more complicated than most standard hero/heroine MCs. Unfortunately the only example I'm coming up with off the top of my head is Shatter Me 1.5 (from Warner's POV). Great post, Siiri!

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

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  14. This is a really interesting post Siiri! I typically love reading POVs from the villain, because they always make me think. What is "right" and what is "wrong" and who are we to judge? Destroy Me (Shatter Me 1.5 - the novella from Warner's POV) is one of my favorites because it's so interesting to see different people's ways of thinking and their physiology. I'm not sure if part of this is because I'm an actress and I'm used to "dissecting" characters and their motives or if it's just something I enjoy as a reader because it makes characters more 3D and complex, but for some reason novels like these are ones I tend to enjoy.

    Thanks for sharing and great post!

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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  15. I absolutely love this discussion post, Siiri. LOVE. I always say I think it'd be cool to have more villain POVs, but at the same time, I hated Tease because of the narration. I'll be posting my DNF review later of Tease, but for that one, I think the main reason why I had an issue with her was that she grated on my nerves. It wasn't really the fact that she was mean, but I couldn't stand her as a person. She wasn't interesting to me, she refused to admit that she was doing wrong, and she left the worst taste in my mouth. I think for me to like a villain, they definitely need to be interesting (duh) and admit they're doing wrong. Or have a LITTLE bit of guilt. Or have no guilt and be like "I'm so bad, whatever" (like in that Jim Carrey animated movie). Sympathy always helps too, but I'm not sure if it's a must for me. Such a thought-provoking and great post, Siiri!

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  16. I definitely would like to get into the mind of a villain from time to time, but only those villains that aren't the ones you want to punch in the face like from Cashore's series, but villains that are actually smart and I end up liking for some reason, like Warner and The Darkling. Also when we don't know much about our villains or why they act the way they do in the first place. Like I hugely appreciated Warner's novella story, because it gave a better understanding of his character! I really liked this discussion post Siiri, thanks for sharing with us! :)

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  17. For me it's a tricky question. I'm sure that a villain's POV could work well. Like you said Destroy Me is a prefect example of it. Only problem is that there are not that many great villain's as Warner. I mean he is hero in his own mind and that makes him a great villain. I really hope authors will gain more courage to make their villains more human and actually appealing. I'd totally enjoy it and then write from their POV! Great post, Siiri :)

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  18. Oh i love this discussion topic! I think for me (i'm interested in villians POV's) i wouldnt care about the genre it's just that if i sit down and read a book where the MC constantly slut shames or does TERRIBLE things and theres no back story to it as to why they might do it (i don't need it spelled out for me but to have it hinted at or written in between the lines would be nice) or have them face the consequences for their actions or something than i'm going to be turned off by it. I think most people just prefer villian POV's in fantasy/dystopian genres because when we read their thoughts there so different to a contemporary villians thoughts (by this i mean there thoughts seem so abstract and different becayse we're in a different setting versus the real world where us, the readers, know that people exist who think these exact same things and live down the street from us) i don't know if i make any sense. I'm probably rambling and confusing you LOL!
    Anyways awesome discussion topic
    I love it
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

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  19. You brought up some really good points in this discussion! Starting with the genre: I, personally, don't even want to read about bully's because I don't see myself sympathizing with them at all. They are crazy and most of the times, comes from messed up family and I don't find anything interesting about them. They need help. Villain in contemporaries usually don't work for me because it makes things real and it makes me sick reading about them. Do you know what I'm saying? Now it's completely different in fantasy and dystopian, I don't know why, but I'm always curious to know more about them, for example Valentine from Mortal Instrument was such an intriguing character. Moving on, I think a villain needs to have a redeeming quality for me to even think of him/her as a person and care about their story, like Warner. Unravel me was the turning point for Warner's characters and made me look at him in a different way. I like when that happens! But I think we can all agree that no one wants to read about killers, shooters and abusers. Now if someone is trying to bring them down, then that's the story I'm interested in! Great discussion, Siiri!

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  20. I loved Warner's point of view in Destroy Me. I actually think the novella was what made me Team Warner. I get bored reading the villain's point of view in J.R.Ward's books cause it just drags out but I would love to see more MCs with shades of gray. Awesome post Siiri! :)

    Janhvi @ The Readdicts

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  21. think for me I don't really know if I've read from a villain's POV. Maybe from more of a bully's one yeah. So in answer to you question, I think I would like authors to explore the possibility of a villain's POV or maybe I need to explore that sort of genre more. I do agree that when you get the bad person's POV in a contemporary I kind of hate it, lol. I feel as if I need to throw the book away. Haha. The only person I can think off the top of my head is Cole in the Everneath series by Brodi Ashton. He was the guy that I didliked the most in the first couple of books, but then had sort of a sweet feeling for him in the last book.

    Overall, I think that a villain POV is a bit of a tug of war with me, I'll either love it or hate it. Brilliant discussion post though, Siiri! :)

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  22. I personally didn't really care for destroy me, but I am curious about tease. I still need to read Unravel Me, but I already know what happened in Ignite Me because I was spoiled like hell. I don't know how I feel about pov's from the villain, but I do find it to be interesting. Great discussion post Siiri :)!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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  23. Wow great point and it's something that me and Jenni talk about often, too. I actually really enjoy reading contemps told by unlikeable characters. Most of Courtney Summers' books are narrated by a hateful character and I freaking love her books so hard. I also think that it's realistic because let's face it, teenagers call people sluts and mean girls will always exist, so I appreciate the raw honesty and realism that these books offer. A character doesn't have to have the same values and opinions, or act at all like I would, for me to enjoy reading a book. Tease is on my TBR list and i'm so curious where I'll fall on that one!

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  24. humm.. the most recent Villian POVS I read was in contemporary and it just never worked for me, I did not find it interesting and most of the time it left me scratching my head by how dumb they are. Especially if it's like a suspense or something... you know.

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  25. I love getting inside a villains head, because then I'm able to understand them more. It sometimes make me feel sorry for them, but not necessarily like them. It makes me appreciate them/like them AS a villain. Does that make sense? xD

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  26. Hmmm.... Interesting....
    I think that when girls tell how much they love villains in their book, they are actually talking about bad boys - sex, drugs, fights, rude, selfish bastards and all that. I've noticed that they hate if the villain in their books is a female character.
    But talking about "true" villains, like the girl from Tease, is something different. A lot of people don't like to read about characters like that because they recognize some parts of themselves and not a lot of people has strong enough character to admit that they do shitty things from time to time too.
    Or they remind them of real life too much and they expect act of reading to be escape from realty, not confronting it.

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  27. Oooh such a great discussion! I love a good villain, though I would NOT call Warner one, especially after Ignite Me. But that's me digressing…I will move on. Anyway, I definitely agree that multidimensional villains are the best and most believable. I love when I can feel little bits of sympathy for them even while I also hate them. Or sometimes the villain turns into the hero. I'm reading VICIOUS right now, which explores the idea of villains vs heroes. I'm not that far, but I'm very intrigued by that idea. I can't think of a lot of books where I've read from the villain's POV. I'm not sure how much I could handle it in YA. But as a novella in a series or little voices in a series I enjoy it. Like Queen Levana in the Lunar Chronicles, we get some of her perspective in places and it made me think of her slightly differently.

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  28. Love this topic, Siiri! I'm all for the villains. I think they're sometimes more interesting than the hero characters. *ahem* Loki. But I agree, it's really difficult to make villains in contemporary books likable without having some sort of redeeming quality. It might be because it's just too "real" for most people. Whereas, a true bad villain in a Fantasy/Dystopian can get away with more because we're able to suspend our disbelief for the other world. I love villains though! It's one of the reasons why I find Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo so fascinating. The Darkling! Love to hate him :D

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  29. I love reading from a villain POV, only if there is character development and an interesting story why they turned evil. I had problems with Tease, because the MC was just such an unlikable, annoying character. The way she looked at things rubbed me the wrong way - but it COULD have been good if she showed more compassion or if I understood her initial behavior. I like more dimensional villains. I don't want them to be a 100% evil. I want them to show me more, make them fascinating and interesting. The Darkling for example or Voldemort.

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  30. This is a really interesting post, Siiri! I'm FINALLY getting around to commenting. I have to admit, I haven't read many villain POVs that have felt necessary or well done, but I do quite like the idea of them. It's interesting to see something from a different side, though I agree that there needs to be some flicker of a redeeming quality somewhere. Otherwise, I just generally don't care about the character enough to want to see more. :P I do tend to be more curious about villains in fantasy and science fiction settings than contemporary ones, though I'm not sure why!

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  31. I'm neutral-it comes down to the quality of the writing, for me. I recently read Curses! A F***ed-Up Fairytale, and the story was told through the pov of the villain. I really disliked this book, but it wasn't because of the pov, it was because it was a crappy book, lol.

    Just found your blog and I'm now following through bloglovin :)
    Finley Jayne
    http://finleyjayne.com/

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