Book Picks: Villains


Today, May 4th, is affectionately known as "Star Wars Day"  by fans of the franchise. In honor of Darth Vader, an antagonist in the original trilogy and one of the most well-known known bad guys in the history of storytelling, our Book Chat team has put together a list of books and stories told from the villain's perspective. From a Greek sorceress to the man in black himself, these books provide a new perspective on how stories can be told.

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,' by Suzanne Collins

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.


'Phasma,' by Delilah Dawson

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of Cardinal, a crimson-armored stormtrooper. What Cardinal wants is Phasma’s past, and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds.


'Grendel,' by John Gardner

The first and most terrifying monster in English literature, from the great early epic Beowulf, tells his own side of the story in this frequently banned book. This  classic and much lauded retelling of Beowulf follows the monster Grendel as he learns about humans and fights the war at the center of the Anglo Saxon classic epic.

Darth Vader

'Darth Vader,' by Kieron Gillen

One of the greatest antagonists in all of fiction stars in his first volume of villainy! Fresh from a stinging defeat at the hands of the Rebel Alliance, Darth Vader must rise again to reassert the Empire's iron grip on the galaxy. But will his personal desire for vengeance against the young Jedi who destroyed the Death Star distract from Vader's duty to the Emperor? As a fateful quest begins, the Dark Lord of the Sith will face a fresh threat to his power.

Hello, Cruel Heart

'Hello, Cruel Heart,' by Maureen Johnson

Sixteen-year-old Estella dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. However, Estella now runs wild through the city streets with Jasper and Horace, amateur thieves. How can Estella join the ranks of the London design elite when she's sewing endless disguises for the trio's heists?

When a chance encounter with two young scions of high society vaults Estella into the world of the rich and famous, she begins to wonder whether she might be destined for more after all. But what is the true cost of keeping up with the fast crowd?


'You,' by Caroline Kepnes

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

Guinevere Beck has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she lives on Bank Street, and she'll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight. It’s the perfect place for a "chance" meeting.

Joe transforms himself into Beck's perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way--even if it means murder.


'Heartless,' by Marissa Meyer

Catherine is a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny, but fate has other plans.


'Circe,' by Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun, a daughter is born. But Circe not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she possesses the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters.

Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods or the mortals she has come to love.

Wide Sargasso Sea

'Wide Sargasso Sea,' by Jean Rhys

Wide Sargasso Sea brings into light one of fiction's most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.


'Hench,' by Natalie Walschots

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. When she finally gets a promising assignment, an encounter with the so-called "hero" leaves her injured. So, of course, then she gets laid off. With no money and no mobility, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique and the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.

It's not too long before she's employed by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

Published on April 30, 2021
Last Modified July 30, 2021