Olive Kitteridge. Gone Girl. A Girl on the Train. Defending Jacob. What do these four books have in common? They all are full of characters difficult or impossible to like. And they are all book club selections. Even though the books are entertaining and have interesting literary devices I have a hard time describing them as books that I "like" and I always qualify my recommendations of these books as ones with unlikable characters.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins carries the story from three women's perspective: Rachel, Anna, and Megan. Their stories intertwine and coalesce by the end of the book but in the meantime we get to know our characters a bit and what we learn isn't pretty. Rachel is an alcoholic obsessed with her x-husband and past life. Anna is an adulterer and quite jealous and insecure. Megan is a philanderer and manipulator. All of the women make bad decisions over and over yet I found myself cheering them on and hoping they would triumph. For what its worth, I didn't like any of the men in the book either. Final decision? Yes, I liked the book but I sure didn't like the characters.
My book club had a fairly heated discussion about this topic when we discussed Gone Girl. Several of the members just couldn't get past the detestable characters to say they liked the book. My husband helped me see the book as a good, entertaining story. The disgusting characters were just part of the entertainment.
What do think? Can you describe a book as one you"like" even if you can't stand all the characters?