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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

RTW: Help, I’m In Love With a Villain!

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.

This week’s prompt was: Who are your favorite literary villains/antagonists, and why?

So there’s this book I read this week and even though I was going to write up a review for it on Friday, it just so happens to fit with today’s Road Trip Wednesday. When stuff like this happens, I’m tempted to by a lottery ticket.

Anyhow, I figure everyone will probably have Voldemort covered and this villain is unlike most others. And here’s why: By the end of the book, I kinda sorta really wanted him to win.

I read Lucy Christopher’s Stolen earlier this week and, well, I think I have Stockholm Syndrome. Here’s what it’s about, from Goodreads:

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

First, and this has nothing to do with the villain, I need to mention how the Outback becomes another character in this story. It’s so well-written that I can still visualize the sand and heat and miles of nothing that surrounded the little shack. You can learn a lot about atmosphere and creating vibrant, almost living, settings. I should also note how well the characters were developed and their histories revealed.

So there’s that. There’s also the fact that the entire book is one long letter from Gemma to her kidnapper. Before I tell you why I’m picking him as my favorite villain, let’s review some of (non-spoilery) things Ty did to Gemma:

1. Kidnapped her from an airport.
2. Drugged her.
3. Brought her to the Outback where no one would ever find her.
4. Told her he’d never let her go.

As you can imagine, the guy’s crazy, obsessed, and delusional. But still.

Christopher’s story is so well done that as Gemma begins to empathize with him, we as readers do too. So let me tell you a few other things about our kidnapper, Ty:

1. He doesn’t hurt or rape her.
2. He opens himself up to her.
3. He has a past and present and future. He’s not a nameless bad guy but one full of pain and hurt and longing.
4. And something he does at the end of the book that I won’t mention because it’s all sorts of spoilery.  

What Christopher masterfully does is play with the reader’s mind so much that we understand Ty. And sort of like him. Here’s why this is my favorite villain: Because at the end of the book, I wanted Gemma to end up with Ty. I wanted him to get what he wanted, a relationship with Gemma. And I wanted it despite the fact that I knew it was wrong.

So there you have it. Read this, get Stockholm Syndrome, and plead for the villain to win.

Who’s your favorite villain?

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