I think I speak for all of us when I say that we each have that one fictional character we fear. That one bad guy we love to hate. That one villain that strikes fear into our very souls. That one specific baddie that we’ve feared right from page one.
As a kid I used to be afraid of the evil grandma in Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine.
She was a wicked old woman. Crazy to the core, a bully to her grandson George, and a generally creepy old lady all round, this granny used to absolutely terrify me as a child. She had no magical powers, she was old and frail, she couldn’t attack anyone, she was not threatening in the slightest… and yet she still horrified me, and that is powerful. I never liked reading the parts with her in it. I remember being baffled why Mr Kranky even let her stay in their home in the first place — but hey, blood is thicker than water, right?
And also, you know, she was a massive part of the story, and a huge part of the book wouldn’t have worked without her…
But I digress.
Villains! They come in all glorious shapes and sizes. I grew up and realised that maybe Grandma Kranky wasn’t actually that scary, and found myself having nightmares of other novel villains, the latest of which being Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery.
Seriously, if you haven’t read it and you have a strong stomach, give it a go and understand what real fear is…
But dammit, I digress yet again.
Today we’re not just talking about any old villains, oh no. We’re talking about YA villains — three specific ones in particular…! So sit back, grab some holy water and your favourite crucifix, because I’m about to lay down my top three YA villains of all time. And I’m bringing it back Olympic medallist style!
WARNING: THIS BLOG POST HAS BEEN RATED ‘YOWZER!!!’ FOR SPOILERS. SERIOUSLY, THIS IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION. IF YOU HAVENT READ THE FOLLOWING BOOKS THEN DON’T READ AHEAD, OTHERWISE THEY’LL BE RUINED FOR YOU! YOU KNOW HOW WE ALL HAVE THAT ONE FRIEND WHO GIVES AWAY THE PLOT TWIST RIGHT AT THE END OF THE MOVIE? YEAH, THIS BLOG POST IS THE EQUIVALENT OF THEM. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
BRONZE MEDAL: PRESIDENT SNOW — THE ‘HUNGER GAMES’ SERIES, WRITTEN BY SUZANNE COLLINS:
Now, I know what you’re thinking. He look harmless! He looks like your grandpa! He looks like your grandma when she forgets to shave off her lady-stache. He looks like a better-dressed Santa Claus!
Wrong. Well… actually you’d be right, because he does look like all of those things — but he’s not! President Snow is the ruthless and tyrannical dictator of Panem — the dystopian future America — and he has total control of the land he rules over.
After the people of Panem tried to mutiny against Snow and the Capitol — the favoured state in Panem (kind of like your favourite child) — he struck back by founding the ‘Hunger Games’. Every year, to exercise his control over Panem, he holds an annual Hunger Games tournament where he traps twenty-four unfortunate children in a giant arena, forces them fight to the death, and broadcasts it nationwide to terrify the masses into behaving themselves.
This seems like a bit of an extreme yearly tradition. Couldn’t he just give Glastonbury a try…?
But anyway! If you don’t think that makes this guy worthy of his villain status, then let me break it down for you just a little more…
President Snow is not only an evil, manipulative, self-serving asshat of a tyrant — he’s also genuinely terrifying. He goes out of his way to install fear into the hearts of his people, but more importantly, he makes it his business to terrorise leading lady, Katniss Everdeen, and her family.
Snow has had a personal vendetta against Katniss after she screwed up his Hunger Games and became a symbol of hope for the rising rebellion. He starts stalking her family, turning up unannounced at her home. He puts her back into the Hunger Games after she’s already been in there once. He kidnaps the love of her life and brainwashes him to hate her. He wages war against her and the rebellions. He’s the reason her little sister was killed. He’s the reason she slowly lost her mind and descended into madness. This man is pure evil.
And you know what makes him so scary? You know what makes him such a chilling character? He’s completely normal. He’s just a normal guy who was given a tiny bit of power, and it went to his head. He lost his mind to it. President Snow is a regular human being. He has no super powers, no supernatural abilities, no magical influences whatsoever. If anything, he’s an old man who could be knocked down by a stiff breeze. He’s a normal human man, and he has the power to make nations fall to their knees, and that’s why he’s scary, and that’s why he deserves the bronze medal.
Well done, Coriolanus Snow. You’re an asshole.
But we must move on!
SILVER MEDAL: LORD VOLDEMORT — THE ‘HARRY POTTER’ SERIES, WRITTEN BY J.K.ROWLING:
(Anyone else think he kind of looks like the bad guy from the Da Vinci Code…?)
Oh, Voldemort. You poor little thing. Orphaned as a child, led astray into dark magic as a teenager, growing up in a world where no one understands you and your hatred for Muggles and Mudbloods. You poor, poor misunderstood creature. All you needed was for someone to love you. All you needed was for someone to hold you close and tell you that you’re special. All you needed was someone to hold your hand and tell you everything was going to be alright. Maybe then, you wouldn’t have turned out so evil. So misunderstood…
No, I’m just kidding, this guy’s a dick.
Lord Voldemort is the archenemy of lead protagonist, Harry Potter, and has had a personal grudge against him since the prophecy arose that stated Harry Potter was the chosen one born to vanquish him. In the magical world, no one dares speak his name, referring to him as ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’, ‘You Know Who’ and ‘The Dark Lord’.
For as long as anyone can remember, Voldemort has had an obsession with blood purity, his dream to become ruler of both the mortal and magic world, where he’ll wipe out the Muggles and Mudbloods, sparing only the pure-blood wizards and witches. If you think about it, he’s basically Hitler. Except Hitler would have probably actually been able to kill Harry Potter as a baby, rather than screwing it up. I mean, come on, the kid was like two years old! You could have thrown the little brat out the window! How can you fail that badly? You had one job, Voldemort. And you SUCKED at it.
And the evilness doesn’t even stop there! As well as blood purity, another one of Voldy’s obsessions is prolonging his life. I suppose his one fear — you know, apart from Dumbledore — is death. He’s terrified of dying, and he does some pretty despicable things to prevent it from happening. He splits his soul into seven different pieces with the use of dark magic and traps them inside seven different hidden objects, so that he can never truly die unless all the bits of his soul are killed first.
He also drinks a lot of unicorn blood and lived as a parasite on the back of someone’s head for like a year, which actually makes him sound more pathetic than evil… but hey, everyone needs to start somewhere…
However, for all his obsessions and weird beliefs, there’s one other thing that he’s more passionate about than anything else. There’s one thing that drives him to distraction more than Muggles, and Mudbloods, and horcruxes, and that’s killing Harry Potter.
Yep, throughout the whole seven book series, Voldemort is hell-bent on killing off the main character, and putting a stop to Harry before he gets to him first. Voldemort goes out of his way to destroy Harry’s life, by killing his parents, destroying his home, murdering his friends and family, waging war against Hogwarts, and lastly by carrying out the killing curse on him. There are only two things on Voldemort’s mind, and that’s taking over the world, and killing Harry Potter, and a character as cunning, powerful and feared as him might actually get his wishes come true…
Although really, how stupid is it that he couldn’t kill a two year old? How embarrassing for him. He could have smothered him with a pillow or thrown him down the stairs, or something. Why did he have try and be fancy about it? Think about it, Voldemort, on a scale of one to ten (one being stuffed-crust pizza and ten being kicking Hitler out of art school) how bad was your idea, huh?
… Yeah, I realise I’ve mentioned Hitler twice so far in this blog post. It’s been a really long week…
But moving on! It’s time for our Gold medal winner! Hold onto your hats, ladies and gents, because I’m about to blow them away!!
GOLD MEDAL: LORD VILE — THE ‘SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT’ SERIES, WRITTEN BY DEREK LANDY:
(Now, there are no actual illustrated pictures of Lord Vile as of yet, but this is roughly what he’d look like…)
Even the name sends shivers down my spine…!
Lord Vile, one of the most notorious, evil, and powerful sorcerers of all time among the pages of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, he is a villain that terrifies not only the characters in the books, but also the readers holding the books. I will personally raise my hand and say that I have been emotionally scarred by the turmoil this man has caused, and I will not hesitate to sue for the traumatic damage caused…!
But what’s that you ask? What makes Lord Vile so unspeakably evil? What makes him such a big bad bully? What’s he ever done that’s so bad? Well sit back and get comfortable, because I’m going to go and get my clipboard of ‘Crap Vile Has Pulled’ and enlighten you all…
First off he fights for the bad guys. After being brought back to life by another sorcerer, Lord Vile let his rage and hatred consume him, and he swapped to Mevolent’s side and started fighting against his friends.
His magical discipline is necromancy, and his powers are so vast and powerful that people start actually believing him to be the next Death Bringer (necromancer messiah) and the fear spreads through the magical world like wildfire.
Concealing his true identity (control yourself not to give away the huge spoiler, all you Skuttlebugs out there) behind a suit of armour that contains all his necromancer magic, Vile is not afraid to go up against his enemies, strike down anyone in his way, and torture, kill, and maim his way to getting what he wants.
Behind that armour is no trace of the good man he once used to be. There is no mercy. There is no hint of remorse for the things he’s done. There is no pity, or love, or humanity, and that’s what makes him such a terrifying and effective villain. He doesn’t have to speak to be frightening. He doesn’t have to be a dictator to make people obey him. He doesn’t need to flash his magic around to show how powerful he is. All you need to know is that he’s dangerous, he’s invulnerable, and he has no humanity, and that’s what makes him so scary. Because what’s scarier than a man who’s lost so much, that he’s also lost himself? What’s more chilling than someone who’s got nothing left to lose? What’s more blood-curdlingly terrifying than a villain who’ll watch you burn just because he can, just because he wants to, just because there’s nothing left he wants? What’s worse than a man who kills without a thought?
There’s nothing scarier than a villain who has no conscience, because you know you’ll never stand a chance against them, and that’s why Lord Vile wins the top spot this week as our Gold Medal Winner. You’ve earned it, pal. You’re seriously messed, up and utterly disturbing. Congratulations.
Although, to be fair, if Voldemort fought with a lightsaber instead of a twig, he’d have probably won the gold.