As long as there have been heroes there have been villains for them to fight against, and if you ask me there are a few villains out there who are just so epically villainous they ae capable of stealing the spotlight from the heroes.
Here are my Top Ten Villains of YA:
Warning: there are a couple spoilers ahead.
- Lord Voldemort – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Has there ever been a better villain in fiction ever? J.K. Rowling’s Voldemort is just the epitome of villainy and it’s going to take someone really, really special to knock him off the top perch.
What I love about Voldemort is the astounding complexity of his character. He’s not just some scary monster who wants to kill everyone (although fear and death does tend to follow in his wake), but he is incredibly clever and is shown to have demonstrated psychopathic behaviours from a very early age.
I can’t tell you how much I would love to see Voldemort’s origin story someday—book or film, I’m not fussy!
- The Darkling – The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo
Sigh…he’s the only villain on this list I have a major book crush on—and seriously, who could blame me? Despite all his murdery and power-hungry ways The Darkling is just completely awesome. If I were Alina I would totally be getting on board with the whole “taking over the world” plan—no way would I be running away or crushing on another guy. Hell. No.
- Queen Levana – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
I honestly couldn’t even tell you how many times I thought ‘oohh you bitch!’ while listening to The Lunar Chronicles. This woman is nasty. And even Fairest, the companion novel dedicated solely to Levana’s origin story, did not draw any sympathy from me. It made me sad, yes, but more in a ‘god, you’re pathetic’ kind of way.
If you’re looking for a series with excellent characters, a fantastic plot and one helluva awesome villain—this is it.
- Axel Mortmain – The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
Definitely one of the most patient villains I’ve ever read about. Mortmain spends decades devising and implementing an incredibly complicated and not exactly fool-proof plot (that I won’t explain because it would take forever—just go read the book…why haven’t you already, it’s awesome!) all so he can speak to his dead father.
I do love the way Mortmain is unveiled as the villain in Clockwork Angel—although there are definite hints and foreshadowing, it is still thrilling to see all the pieces come together.
- Nashira Sargas The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Another hella nasty biatch is Nashira Sargas from The Bone Season. Actually, the entire Sargas family are pretty nasty but Nashira is the leader and the worst of them all so it’s her name on this list.
The leader of an alien race that conquered the human world over a century ago without anyone knowing, Nashira is endlessly cruel, vindictive, and calculating, with humans bearing the brunt of her wrath.
I seriously get chills whenever she steps into a scene—partly because of the excellent narration by Alana Kerr Collins, but mostly because you know if Nashira is in the room, something bad is going to happen to Paige.
- Thiago – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Most of the villains on this list are of the ‘love to hate’ variety. As in, they’re awful, awful people, but you’re completely captivated by them all the same. Thiago I just hated.
I loathed this guy from the first time he was introduced (which I’m sure was Laini Taylor’s intention) and pretty much every time he made an appearance after that had me gritting my teeth and clenching my fists. There is one scene in particular that was near-impossible to read—if you’ve read this series I’m sure you’ll know which one I’m referring to.
- Sebastian Morgenstern – The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
I loved the second half of The Mortal Instruments much better than the first. As my previous top ten list suggested, a big part of this was because Simon had a more prominent role, but another reason was because I found Sebastian to be a better villain than Valentine. His obsession with his sister aside (yeah, another allusion to incest in this series—clearly Cassie Clare didn’t get the memo that people are only okay with Aunt-Nephew ships these days), Sebastian is a pretty damn awesome villain. He manages to instigate the biggest war in…well, a really long time (I’m not going to say Shadowhunter history because these people are always at war, so…) and his legacy is a broken world full of fear, enmity and hate.
- King Leck – Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Confession—it’s been years since I read Graceling so my memory is a bit shoddy. I do, however, remember King Leck being a completely awesome villain. He managed to hide his grace from everyone by using an eye patch (you would think that would raise some alarm bells, but no) and through his magical ability to lie and manipulate he took the throne and had the entire country under his control (literally because he could magically control them).
- The Commandant, Keris Veturia – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A mother who hates her own son and would have seen him dead—how much eviler could you get?
Power-hungry, ruthless and sadistic, The Commandant is a figure to fear and unquestioningly obey for the soldiers and slaves at the Academy. And if you have read An Ember in the Ashes you will know exactly what I am referring to by ‘sadistic’—it is a very hard scene to read but, even though it’s told from Leia’s point of view, is amazing for the insight it gives into The Commandant’s character.
- Duke Perrington/Erawan – Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
So one day, you’re walking along, Duke Perrington is just an annoying side character (waaayyyy to the side) and then BAM! he turns out to be the evil fey king using Perrington’s body as a host and handing out obsidian jewellery to pretty much anyone he can get to—all the better to control you with.
This revelation was one of the few things I really liked about Queen of Shadows, which fell way short of the mark for me. Given most of the protagonists have started to annoy the hell out of me, it’s a good thing we’ve got ourselves a damn good villain!
Who are your favourite villains of YA? Did they make my list?
I haven’t decided what topic to do next week yet – suggestions are welcome!