Have you ever been repelled by the main character in a book?

After I finished Gone Girl, I decided to give the other novels by Gillian Fynn a try. The book that I am currently reading is Dark Places. To be honest, I did not really like the names of her other novels: Dark Places, Sharp Objects. The names sounded very generic to me. Flynn’s books seem to have simple naming convention: Adjective+Noun. Interesting!

The point, however, is,this: I am not enjoying Dark Places as much as I enjoyed Gone Girl. I am not someone who enjoys murder mysteries so much – I am not really into that genre. Whenever I think of murder mysteries I think of motives. And how many motives can an author ideally choose from? The seven sins, probably? And once you learn the motive, the story becomes water-simple. It is until the motive becomes clear that the mystery is really a mystery (Do correct me  if I am wrong!).

A part of my disinterest in Dark Places can be attributed to the characters. In Gone Girl, I was really interested in both Nick and Amy. Nick is the handsome boy from not-so-rich background, and Amy is someone who’s both beautiful and rich. What happens when you put these two in a mix? That question interested me. In Dark Places, the main character, Libby Day, is depressed, lazy and really has no redeeming quality. She is in a bad position in life financially – and starts taking steps in life out of the basic need of money. To me, she is pathetic. And I feel no interest in her POV, whatever that is. I like her brother’s POV better – I want to know what life was for that fifteen year old boy before he was convicted of slaughtering his own family. Libby’s mother’s POV also did not interest me so much.

But of course, as I moved in the story, the structure of the narrative started to pull me in. The story moves back and forth between present and one day before the murder. Flynn masterly puts in place the pieces of the Day family’s life before that fateful day, which, of course, strokes your curiosity in a pleasant way – you want to know what happened in the lives of these people that dragged them to such an end.

Reading this book, I realized that no matter how uneventful somebody’s life is from your perspective, every life tells a story. As does every death. In death, nostalgia sets in – how would these characters’ lives have been, had they not been killed that day? Already they were in a bad position in life. Would something better have happened to the Day family which, in turn, might have lent a healthy touch to Libby’s life – such that she would not grow up to the the pathetic person that she is?

I’m curious – how does the basic traits of a character pull a reader into a story? As for me, I like characters who are trying to do something with their lives, someone who has the will and the character to bring changes in their lives, someone who is striving to become a better version of himself/herself. For me, Libby Day has no such value. In the same vein, Amy of Gone Girl is a masterpiece, if I may say so! Even though she is venomous, she is brilliant. And that attracts me like a insect to the fire.

What about you? What qualities do you like in the main character (MC) of any novel? Tell me about a story you read where the MC did not at all appeal to you at first. Did you end up finishing the story?

7 thoughts on “Have you ever been repelled by the main character in a book?

  1. anankhan98

    For me, that story would be The Picture of Dorian Gray. But, interestingly enough, Dorian was likable in the beginning, compared to at the end. He was the handsome guy who could make you feel like you were at the top of the world. He began to disinterest, and, in fact, gross me out when (warning, spoilers) he fell in love with a girl who always played Juliet at this tiny theatre, asked her to marry him, and the next time he went to see her play completely fell out of love with her, saying she wasn’t who she used to be. WHAT? The poor girl ended up committing suicide. I don’t remember if I finished the book. Probably not, because I don’t remember the ending. It was SUPER boring at some points, boring enough to cause me to skip around 50 pages. :p
    The current Principal at our school lent some books to my friend the other day, and he picked up The Picture, explained how and why it was famous, and how she should skip those pages, and then just took it out of her arms and put it back in the shelf saying it wasn’t worth it. The accuracy of it left me reeling!


    1. Arpita Post author

      Haha! Yeah, I think I had read the book when I was younger – but never got around to finishing it. I remember liking Dorian in the beginning, his being a handsome guy – but I can’t remember the ending either. Guess I skipped more than half of the book. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. BERYL

    I must really recommend the watching of the movie, Dark Places…it’s a dark book (and movie), with dark characters and hopeless and quite murky situations, but nobody could have done a better job of portraying Libby’s character than Charlize Theron. And Nicholas Hoult has done a good job of supporting her character. From where I stand, I don’t despise Libby (I could name a thousand people that I truly despise, right now, but not Libby). I pity her and feel a certain kind of love tinged with sorrow for her, because she deserved a better life – family, love, hobbies, a job may be, the satisfaction of earning her livelihood – all of which she entirely missed. And I can’t even imagine what she must have felt when she had to testify in court that it was her favourite brother who had slaughtered her family, the endless questions that must have plagued her over the years like ‘why did he kill them?’, ‘did he really kill them or was it someone else?’, ‘why didn’t he kill me?’, ‘why was I saved?’ and so on, and once the case was re-opened, these same doubts and so many more must have assailed her. If we are looking for a redeeming quality in Libby Day, we don’t have to look too far; it’s right there in front of our eyes – she realises that she was wrong to have falsely accused her brother of killing his own family, though she was too young and too frightened to have realised the truth, and she despises herself for it. How can I possibly hate somebody who hates herself and has realised her wrongs, somebody who achieved a kind of celebrity status for all the wrong reasons, who became a pawn in the hands of shrewd businessmen and hence, never had a decent chance of living the life of a decent, normal and happy person?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arpita Post author

      Hmmmm… Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Di. Well, I am yet to finish the book and I hope my views will change. The point, however, is Libby began the quest of freeing her brother because she was in need of money. I’d assume that him being her only family left, she would have tried to help him for better reasons. Especially since she herself knew that she was allowing herself to believe that her brother murdered the family, because it was convenient for her to do so. So if she starts hating herself, good for her. Then at least I shall have some respect for her.



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