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Choose anti-hero story for gripping read

The voice an author uses to tell a story can be as gripping as the events of the plot. A perfect example of this can be found in novels that feature an anti-hero.

Usually, these characters are morally ambiguous but are complexly written to engage the readers’ fascination. Psychologically complex, anti-heroes can be found in all genres and for all audiences.

Juvenile audiences might meet anti-heroes through the retelling of fairytales from the villain’s point of view. “Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks! The Story of Jack and the Beanstalk as Told by The Giant,” by Eric Braun and illustrated by Cristian Bernardini, is a fantastic version of the beloved tale. Using humor, the giant points out that Jack, not the giant, is actually the villain of the tale.

If your young reader enjoys this one, there is an entire series waiting to be explored.

Slightly older readers might be familiar with “The Bad Guys” by Aaron Blabey. This sketchy cast of bad guys have decided that they want to be good and do good things – whether you like it or not. A movie version of the first book is in theaters, but there are 16 books in the series to keep your reader entertained for many hours.

Catherine Jinks’ “Genius” series introduces readers to 14-year-old Cadel Piggott. Piggott is studying for his World Domination degree by taking classes like embezzlement, forgery and infiltration. When he meets another student, he begins to question the moral implications of his studies and the impact of an even larger nefarious plot. With an engaging cast of characters, this one examines the fine line of good and evil, where nothing is as it seems.

Adult readers will enjoy the crime novels of Rick Gavin. With the first installment, readers meet repo man Nick Reid. Anticipating an easy job of repossessing a flat screen TV, things go sideways when Percy Dwayne Dubois knocks him on the head with a shovel, ties him up with a lamp cord and takes off in his landlady’s mint-condition 1969 Ranchero – with the flat screen TV.

What follows is a rowdy road-trip with his best friend Desmond through the Mississippi Delta as he attempts to recover the car and survive the characters he meets along the way.

With two additional installments, this series has you rooting for Nick and Desmond despite the bad choices they make.

Another classic author of the anti-hero crime novel is Donald Westlake. Responsible for creating the character of John Dortmunder, the cleverest and least lucky thief in the world, his books have been beloved for over 40 years. Start with “The Hot Rock” to meet Dortmunder on his first adventure.

Columnist Lori Skinner is head librarian for Northwest-Shoals Community College. For more information, she can be contacted at 256-331-6288 or lori.skinner@nwscc.edu. NW-SCC Libraries are open to the public and look forward to serving your library needs. 

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