Monday, September 26, 2016

Blog Tour: THE MIDNIGHT STAR by Marie Lu, What Makes a Great Villain

Dear readers:
I am thrilled to take part in the blog tour for the final book in the terrific trilogy, the Young Elites by Marie Lu. If you haven't started reading this trilogy, you should do so immediately, so you can read the final fantastic installment (it gets 5 out of 5 couches from me, I'd give more if I could) as soon as it comes out on October 11, 2016.

So last year, I wrote a post on The Young Elites, and what made up a good villain. Re-reading it, it was more of a love song to The Young Elites as a book (which I still completely stand by), rather than an analysis on what makes a good villain.

This is a good thing because it gives me more space to do that this year prior to the release of The Midnight Star. I really love this topic because I feel having the right kind of villain is vital for a good three dimensional story.

First, I just want to briefly say that THE MIDNIGHT STAR does not disappoint, and in fact, is the perfect finale to one of the best trilogies I've read this year (and I've read a couple of really wonderful trilogies this year-- The Winner's Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski and The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson comes to mind, and The Young Elites now takes its place with these two heavy hitters). I will be posting my 5 star review very soon.

Goodreads Book Description (WARNING: don't read this description if you don't want any spoilers at all):  
28588345The thrilling finale to the New York Times bestselling Young Elites series from “hit factory” Marie Lu.

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved.

Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds when a new danger appears, putting not only Adelina at risk, but every Elite and the very world they live in. In order to save herself and preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

Bestselling author Marie Lu concludes Adelina's story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series. 

My thoughts about villains: I believe a great (and frankly terrifying) villain is one that we can really empathize with because in those certain circumstances, we could see ourselves possibly making similar bad choices spiraling us down that same dark and lonely path.  

I touched on this a year ago, but I'd like to expand on that idea. In particular, Adelina is just that kind of villain. I loved the fact that Marie Lu took a fascinating character (which was originally a side character), and made her the anti-hero main character. Adelina has been through hell, and she has really good reasons to be angry, to want to fight back against all the injustice that has been done to her.  So when she gains powers that align with the dark, what would you expect? And yet, in the first book, you can see the light in her as well. It's struggling to be heard, and even though you just know, deep in your gut, that things are likely to take a turn for the worse, you just hope, really HOPE, that she'll catch a break. I honestly can't say that I wouldn't have made similar choices in her situation. Each time she is confronted with some new knowledge, it pushes her in a certain direction, and I very much sympathize with her as I can completely understand why she is going that way from her past history and what she has endured thus far. There are a couple of heartbreaking moments in The Young Elites, where support from one key person, could have changed her direction completely.

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)Another example of a more fleshed out villain that is from another recent read, Fairest by Marissa Meyer, from the Cinder Chronicles, where we finally get an inner peek into the twisted mind of Queen Levana. I felt sick reading this book and it haunted me for weeks afterwards, but I think honestly, it's some of Meyer's best work. While the other books are in the heroes' viewpoints, Levana finally gets a say. Levana has just a terrible, awful childhood, and she probably does have some underlying psychological pathology, born with sociopathic tendencies-- it's clear from the get go that she doesn't sympathize or empathize normally with other people even before the bad things happened to her. All she needed was a trigger to make her go the wrong way. She had not one trigger, but many triggers that were not her fault, unfortunately, and then the rest were of her own making. She has never had a conception of love, and no examples of true love. Top that off with an unfortunate ability to force people to do her will and disaster is eminent. Honestly, I try to think of every teenager I've ever known, myself included... we are all hormonally out of whack to begin with. Then combine that with her sociopathic tendencies and underlying traumatic childhood--that's an explosion just waiting to happen. Most teens (or people, really) have experienced unrequited love and wish they had the power to force it to happen. Most of us I would say would probably give in to that temptation at least temporarily. I as a teenager probably would have. This book terrified me because in certain circumstances, what says I wouldn't have chosen the same path?

24909852I just finished reading the wonderful Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss that was recently published earlier this month. This is a fictionalized story that takes place during the real hijacking events in the 1970s from a Palestinian terrorist group. The reason I bring this up is because one of the best parts of the book is when the main character befriends a young terrorist, who tells her of the horrifying events that led to his joining the terrorist group. The character is warm, apologetic, and kind. It's an odd juxtaposition as his group has just strapped bombs to the bottom of the plane. And yet, he made the decision to threaten and possibly take innocent lives. He truly believes he is doing the right thing and is eager for her to understand his choices. He is a sympathetic character, and I get why he has made the choices he has, but that doesn't make them the right choices. How coincidental that I get this blog topic and then read about a villain that is as close to a real life villain as one can get.

The last character that I'd like to mention, who is not necessarily a villain, but definitely misunderstood, is Snape from the Harry Potter series. I love that he's not exactly likeable, but you get where he's coming from, and even though he actually does hate Harry, he does the opposite of Adelina and makes the right choices, even when many other people in his position would make the wrong choices. And the fact that he never even got the chance to see if his sacrifices were worth it still tears me apart to this day.

In all these four examples are characters who are villains in some way and above all, three dimensional. Life isn't straightforward and different experiences change us in different ways. I am fascinated to read about characters who are like me in some ways, but make different choices-- it's like a Choose Your Adventure sort of outlook on your own life.  In fact, for the Young Elites, Marie Lu mentions that her main character, Adelina, is modeled after herself, which terrified her. I absolutely love that. I could definitely identify with Adelina and sympathize with her. I also love that it was an incredibly risky move to write about a character who is so much like yourself.  Even more risky to make that main character a villain.

I highly recommend this trilogy and would love to hear your comments and opinions on villains-- what sorts of villains do you like to read about and why?

And here's the tour schedule because you'll want to see all of the rest of these great stops!

Week One
Monday, 9/26: Expresso Reads (Series Sensory Associations)
Monday, 9/26: Ensconced in Lit (TYE “What Makes a Villain” Discussion)
Tuesday, 9/27: Myriad Inklings (Review/Book Playlist)
Tuesday, 9/27: Two Chicks on Books (Top 5 Reasons to Read TYE)
Wednesday, 9/28: Mike the Fanboy (Villains/Anti-Heroes in Pop Culture List)
Thursday, 9/29: Reading Teen (Guest Post)
Thursday, 9/29: Twirling Pages (Favorite Quotes/Mood Board)
Friday, 9/30: Bibliophile Gathering (Review)
Friday, 9/30: Brittany’s Book Rambles (Favorite Quotes)

Week Two:
Monday, 10/3: Once Upon a Twilight (Guest Post)
Tuesday, 10/4: The Starry-Eyed Revue (Midnight Star Look Book)
Tuesday, 10/4: Arctic Books (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Wednesday, 10/5: Folded Pages Distillery (Review + Instagram)
Wednesday, 10/5: Fiktshun (Review)
Thursday, 10/6: The Book Nut (Review + Mood Board)
Thursday, 10/6: Bookiemoji (Top 5 Reasons to Read TYE)
Friday, 10/7: MundieMoms (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Week Three:
Monday, 10/10: The Fandom (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Tuesday, 10/11: Forever Young Adult (Guest Post)
Wednesday, 10/12: Owl Always Be Reading (Review + Quotes)
Wednesday, 10/12: Buttermybooks (Favorite Morally Ambiguous Characters)
Thursday, 10/13: IceyBooks (Quote Candy)
Friday, 10/14: Dark Faerie Tales (Guest Post)
Friday, 10/14: A Page with a View (Favorite Fanart)
Week Four:
Monday, 10/17: The Book Shire (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Monday, 10/17: Seeing Double in Neverland (Review)
Tuesday, 10/18: What Sarah Read (Guest Post)
Wednesday, 10/19: Adventures of a Book Junkie (Top 5 Reasons to Read TYE)
Wednesday, 10/19: YA Bibliophile (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Thursday, 10/20: Eater of Books! (Swoon Thursday)
Friday, 10/21: Me My Shelf and I (Bookish Scents)
Friday, 10/21: Oh the Book Feels (Review + Favorite Quotes)

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1 comment:

  1. I'm so ready for this! Adelina scared me in that last chapter of The Rose Society. Villains make a story so much better, especially a fantasy. My favorite will have to be Cersei from A Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones). I empathize with her character because I see that her father groomed her from a young age for power. Oh, she disgusts me with some of her actions (mainly where Jamie, her brother, is concerned) but she is truly an evil character and I love to see what she will do next. Yeah, I'm twisted like that. LOL! Great post!