So! I was reading during my recent vacation (as one does when stuck at and between airports), and I'd heard a lot of good things about this book. Very much dark fantasy, not a friendly world, that sort of thing. I was looking forward to a good anti-hero tale, something where I clearly wasn't reading about the good guy but could root for him anyway.
While the main character was no good guy, there was nothing about him worth rooting for.
Don't get me wrong, I love anti-heroes. I like characters who work outside the lines. I like characters who not only do things I wish I could do but can't because I'm not willing to spend the rest of my life in jail, but also get away with them. I like reading about the wrong person trying to do the right thing.
However, part of what makes an anti-hero is that there's good in them somewhere. It might be the warm heart behind their gruff exterior. It might be the tiny spark of light in the darkness inside them. But it has to be there. There has to be something to separate an anti-hero from the villains they fight.
This book had none of that.
The protagonist, as he was no hero of any kind, had no redeeming qualities I could see. Flashbacks show where his life changed, and this isn't someone who edged down the slippery slope toward villainy, or someone who tripped. This is someone who saw it as a cliff and leaped off. And yet, it seemed like the reader was supposed to empathize with him because of his tragic past, that he truly was supposed to be an anti-hero.
I don't think so. Without that core of good, we're left with a protagonist who sees no trouble with torture, murder, and rape. We have a character who would be the antagonist in most other stories. And being driven by revenge is fine until he just sort of drops that because it doesn't suit him anymore.
I didn't read the whole story; I got bored with it and was utterly disappointed. It's possible things could have gotten better, but after 100 pages, I just didn't care enough to find out. So I wouldn't call this a review, but I wanted to really get into why the character didn't work for me at all.
So, now I'm curious: what do you think makes an anti-hero? Have you seen characters like this, who shoot for that and miss? And how would you write an anti-hero to make sure they truly were one?
Next entry: sequel talk. @_@