Monday, November 7, 2016

"Celebrating the Antiheroes in Literature" | @ the Library Article

Literature has always provided us with one basic commonality.  Every book features a hero or heroine.  We need someone we can look up to, relate to, and become invested in until the very last page.  They're the ones we know will always do the right thing, and no matter what situations they find themselves in, everything will work out in the end.  Where heroes are larger than life, antiheroes are also popular in literature, providing us with flawed individuals we can't help but root for...even if we know it's a little wrong.  Talk about guilty pleasures.

Your Abilene Public Library is full of great series highlighting such characters, with many series that have been bestsellers, and have also provided readers with a new hero to follow.  Allow me to introduce you to a couple of the popular series that have sucked me in, while I tell you about their "heroes" you'll have to love.

I couldn't begin a recommendation without first mentioning the character of Dexter Morgan, created by Jeff Lindsay.  When I first read 2004's release of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, as well as devouring the six additional sequels, it was the first time I found myself actively rooting for a lead character who, at his core, is a sociopathic serial killer.  Stay with me here...Dexter is the quintessential antihero, as you know his desire to murder people is wrong.  Then, you find yourself rooting for him as he decides to only kill criminals who have beat the legal system.  Through his adventures, while he's also working for the police department as a blood splatter analyst, even in the moments he's about to be discovered for what he truly is; you're secretly hoping Dexter will escape his pursuers.

The Dexter series went on to be adapted into a hit TV series on Showtime, which aired for eight seasons starring Michael C. Hall in the lead role.  Just as the novels were for readers, the TV series garnered a huge following.  Your Abilene Public Library carries the book series, as well as the entire TV series on DVD that's available for you to check out.  However, don't blame me when you find yourself rooting for the serial killer.

Another popular antihero is the character of John Rain, created by author Barry Eisler.  Beginning with 2002's release of Rain Fall, readers were taken into the world of Rain, a half-Japanese, half-American former soldier who became a freelance assassin.

That's right, I'm rooting for an assassin, but if you read the series, so will you.  In the eight book series, Rain is Vietnam vet who later leaves the CIA to become a skilled assassin where his services are offered to any client.  What makes him somewhat likeable is the fact that he has rules.  He won't kill women or children, no other secondary team can work on his mission, and he only takes out principals (meaning no hits on family members to "send a message").

With his skills from the special forces and CIA, Rain proves to be an effective assassin, although he's flawed as he can't trust people, is a bit paranoid, and likes to eliminate loose ends that might come back to haunt him, among other quirks.  Still in all, you can't help but become invested in the character.  Look out for the Rain series at your Abilene Public Library and see how they fare with your sense of ideals.

These are but two series featuring antiheroes I've grown fond of, but that doesn't mean there aren't many others in literature, some of which you know.  Such characters include Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Severus Snape from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Tom Ripley from Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley series and many more.

Although their imperfections keep them from being what your traditional hero might be, they also show you that heroes come in all forms...including those who happen to be villainous.  With an underlying theme of the ends justifying the means, having an appreciation for antiheroes doesn't make you a bad person, but it might open you up to even more great reads available at your Abilene Public Library.  Be sure to stop by and check out some - you might find it to be your next guilty pleasure!  We all need them, right?

Article Contributed by Tremain Jackson, Branch Manager of the South Branch of the Abilene Public Library

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