Monday, July 25, 2011

5 Best Books With An Unconventional Hero

5 Best Books is a terrific weekly meme hosted by Cassandra at INDIEREADERHOUSTON. Today it's 5 Best Books With An Unconventional Hero.

Unconventional in any sense of the word. If you can think of 5 such books (and I'm sure you can), why don't you join in?

1) Mr. Rochester in JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte..

For me he is the prototype for all the moody, sinister, dark browed, dark tempered, scowling men with mysterious pasts who live within the pages of all my favorite romantic tales then and now. But when Charlotte Bronte created him, he was definitely unconventional and even, daring. Rochester was more at home stomping about on the moors than simpering over a lady's hand in the drawing room. Rochester kept his mad wife in the attic.

He was the perfect anti-hero, a man with a dreadful secret and a 'go to hell' attitude about life in a time when such men were usually the villains of the piece.

2) Hazel in WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams.

Well, you can't get more unconventional than a rabbit for a hero. Hazel is that but so much more. While first and foremost being a creature of his kind (Adams sees to that while even inventing a language for the rabbits ), he is also a born leader and a daring adventurer. A guide out of the wilderness for his band of followers, away from the destruction of their homeland.

3) ODD THOMAS in the book by Dean Koontz.

Odd is a young man who can see the dead and often feels called upon to set thing right if he can. He is an antenna who can spot gathering evil, making him aware when a disaster will take place. This, of course, is the main reason why he avoids crowds - they cause him too much psychic stress. Odd is also self-effacing and gentle, a perpetual outsider and a wanderer through life. A beautifully created soul, especially engaging in the first book, ODD THOMAS (which I consider a classic) and in BROTHER ODD.

4) Christopher John Francis Boone in THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon.

Christopher is a fifteen year old boy who knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7, 057. He relates well to animals but cannot comprehend human emotions. He can't stand to be touched. Although he has a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. He functions best in a regimented, carefully constructed world.

But when his neighbor's poodle is murdered, Christopher decides to find the real killer by emulating his hero, Sherlock Holmes. We are drawn then into Christopher's thinking process, his own brand of logistics uncolored by emotion. A unique book with an equally unique hero.

5) Buck in THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London.

Buck is the half St. Bernard/half Shepherd hero of what is considered by many to be Jack London's best book. When Buck is stolen from his California home and eventually sold as a sled-dog he becomes the hero of his own hard, crushingly cruel life in the Alaskan wilderness.

Honorable Mentions:

This time out I couldn't stop at 5 - well, the truth is, it's always hard to stop at 5 and this time I didn't.

Louis Drax in THE NINTH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX by Liz Jensen.

Louis is a nine year old boy lying in a coma. The story is told from his point of view, his thoughts as he goes over his accident prone young life and how he finally wound up in that hospital bed at Dr. Pascal Dannachet's famed coma clinic in France.

We also, occasionally, get the point of view of Dr. Dannachet as he is drawn into the life of Louis' enigmatic mother.

A chilling, heartbreaking story with, at its core, a very young boy trying to unravel the adult mysteries of the human heart.

Yashim the eunuch in THE JANISSARY TREE by Jason Goodwin

When murder fouls up the plans of the Ottoman Sultan, Investigator Yashim is called to find the killer. Deep within the halls of Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, the Sultan understands that Europe is changing and some modernization is called for. But murder rears its ugly head to threaten the delicate balance of power in the Sultan's court. Are the now outlawed Janissary soldiers planning a comeback?


  1. I love Hazel and Buck. They are two amazing choices.

  2. I love your list! I can't believe I forgot Odd Thomas. That's one of the most unconventional heroes ever! I really want to read everything here. This may actually be my favorite list by a participant ever.

    I'm so glad that you've joined us :)

  3. Thanks Ryan, I love them too. As you might know WATERSHIP DOWN is my second favorite book ever.

  4. Cassandra: Thank you for liking my list so much. Sometimes I think my reading material gets a bit too esoteric. But then I shrug, and off I go.

    I'm glad I joined your meme. I look forward to it every week. :)

  5. You have a lovely blog! This is what I would love my blog to be like. It seems we have kind of similar tastes in books too.

    Loved that you mentioned The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. I read and it earlier this year.

    My top 5 books post is on my blog A Paperback Life. Feel free to check it out.

  6. wutheringwillow: Thanks for dropping by, glad you liked my blog. :)

    I think you're the only other person I've 'met' who's read the Louis Drax book. And it's such a heart-breakingly good book.

    I will definitely check out your list and your blog.

  7. I have been madly in love with Rochester since I was 13 and first read the book. I never found him, though, darn it! LOL! I have not read a lot of the books you mentioned, and I'm really interested in the Louis Drax book after your description. The last one intrigues me too -- this comment form is covering the name, and I can't remember just now! But I'll write it down along with the other so I can dive into them! Good post, Yvette.

  8. ClassicBecky: I've loved Rochester for ages too. :)

    The Louis Drax book would make an eerie motion picture, that's for sure. I'm surprised no one's thought of it. But then the book was never a huge hit. It's an amazing read though. I'm curious to know what you'd make of it, Becky.

  9. What an unconventional list.

    Rochester is okay, Heathcliff is better:)

  10. neer: I'm nothing if not unconventional. :)

    I thought about Heathcliff, but I never liked him.

    I loved Rochester best. :) Plus, wasn't he written first? Not sure.


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