Best Books, Fiction, Literature

The Best Novels Featuring Anti-Heroes

November 15, 2016

“What are the Best Books featuring Anti-heroes and Anti-heroines?” We looked at 18 different Best Anti Hero lists and came away with 123 different titles.

Dark heroes make for interesting characters in novels because they allow us to briefly live inside the mind or body of someone who acts much different than we ever would or could. Antiheroes are incredibly popular these days, especially in movies and television (Walter White, Tony Soprano, Everyone in Game of Thrones, most Reality TV Shows, etc.). Books have been highlighting the lives of male and female anti-heroes for decades and even centuries (looking at you Shakespeare). If you look at any Antihero lists for television or movies, they mostly come from adaptations of books. Pretty much book readers are antihero early adopters.

Below you will find the top 23 anti-hero books that appeared on multiple lists with images, summaries, and links. At the bottom of the page the additional 100 books appearing on a single list each, as well as the 18 sources are listed.

happy Scrolling!



Anti Hero and Anti Heroine



23.) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

a-clockwork-orange-by-anthony-burgess
Lists It Appears On:

    • Brooklyn Mag
    • The Culture Trip

A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology.A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom.

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22.) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

catch-22-catch-22-1-by-joseph-heller
Lists It Appears On:

    • Alternative Reel
    • Sabotage Times

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

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21.) Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-harry-potter-1-by-j-k-rowling
Lists It Appears On:

    • Publishing Crawl
    • Thought Catalog

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

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20.) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

lolita-by-vladimir-nabokov
Lists It Appears On:

    • Brooklyn Mag
    • Huffington Post

Awe and exhiliration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

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19.) Paradise Lost by John Milton

paradise-lost-paradise-1-by-john-milton
Lists It Appears On:

    • Sabotage Times
    • The Guardian

It is considered by critics to be Milton’s major work, and helped solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time. The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

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18.) Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

pippi-longstocking-pippi-la%cc%8angstrump-1-by-astrid-lindgren
Lists It Appears On:

    • Stylist
    • The Guardian

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

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17.) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudice-by-jane-austen
Lists It Appears On:

    • Love Romance Passion
    • Thought Catalog

Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth. Though Austen set the story at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of “most loved books.” It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars.

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16.) Sway by Kat Spears

sway-by-kat-spears
Lists It Appears On:

    • Barnes & Noble
    • Booklist Reader

“In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or “”Sway,”” as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?”

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15.) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

the-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn-by-mark-twain
Lists It Appears On:

    • Alternative Reel
    • Thought Catalog

The novel’s preeminence derives from its wonderfully imaginative re-creation of boyhood adventures along the Mississippi River, its inspired characterization, the author’s remarkable ear for dialogue, and the book’s understated development of serious underlying themes: “natural” man versus “civilized” society, the evils of slavery, the innate value and dignity of human beings, and other topics. Most of all, Huckleberry Finn is a wonderful story, filled with high adventure and unforgettable characters.

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14.) The Lies Of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

the-lies-of-locke-lamora-gentleman-bastard-1-by-scott-lynch
Lists It Appears On:

    • Best Fantasy Books
    • Huffington Post

An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.

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13.) The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

the-master-and-margarita-by-mikhail-bulgakov
Lists It Appears On:

    • Brooklyn Mag
    • The Culture Trip

The deadpan mix of the fantastic and the realistic was at the heart of the Vietnamese mythos. It is at the heart of the present zeitgeist. And it was not invented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as wonderful as his One Hundred Years of Solitude is. Garcia Marquez’s landmark work of magical realism was predated by nearly three decades by Bulgakov’s brilliant masterpiece of a novel. That summer in Saigon a vodka-swilling, talking black cat, a coven of beautiful naked witches, Pontius Pilate, and a whole cast of benighted writers of Stalinist Moscow and Satan himself all took up permanent residence in my creative unconscious.

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12.) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

wuthering-heights-by-emily-bronte%cc%88
Lists It Appears On:

    • Love Romance Passion
    • The Culture Trip (Again)

Wuthering Heights is the name of the farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors where the story unfolds. The book’s core theme is the destructive effect that jealousy and vengefulness have, both on the jealous or vengeful individuals and on their communities. Although Wuthering Heights is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature, it received mixed reviews when first published, and was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was so unusually stark.

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11.) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

crime-and-punishment-by-fyodor-dostoyevsky
Lists It Appears On:

    • Sabotage Times
    • The Culture Trip
    • Thought Catalog

One of the supreme masterpieces of world literature, Crime and Punishment catapulted Dostoyevsky to the forefront of Russian writers and into the ranks of the world’s greatest novelists. Drawing upon experiences from his own prison days, the author recounts in feverish, compelling tones the story of Raskolnikov, an impoverished student tormented by his own nihilism, and the struggle between good and evil. Believing that he is above the law, and convinced that humanitarian ends justify vile means, he brutally murders an old woman — a pawnbroker whom he regards as “stupid, ailing, greedy…good for nothing.” Overwhelmed afterwards by feelings of guilt and terror, Raskolnikov confesses to the crime and goes to prison. There he realizes that happiness and redemption can only be achieved through suffering. Infused with forceful religious, social, and philosophical elements, the novel was an immediate success. This extraordinary, unforgettable work is reprinted here in the authoritative Constance Garnett translation.

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10.) Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

fight-club-by-chuck-palahniuk
Lists It Appears On:

    • Alternative Reel
    • Huffington Post
    • Publishing Crawl

In his debut novel, Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation’s most visionary satirist. Fight Club’s estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret boxing matches in the basement of bars. There two men fight “as long as they have to.” A gloriously original work that exposes what is at the core of our modern world.

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9.) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

jane-eyre-by-charlotte-bronte%cc%88
Lists It Appears On:

    • Brooklyn Mag
    • Lit Reactor
    • The Culture Trip (Again)

Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its title character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall. In its internalisation of the action — the focus is on the gradual unfolding of Jane’s moral and spiritual sensibility and all the events are coloured by a heightened intensity that was previously the domain of poetry — Jane Eyre revolutionised the art of fiction. Charlotte Brontë has been called the ‘first historian of the private consciousness’ and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel’s exploration of classism, sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism.

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8.) Macbeth by William Shakespeare

macbeth-by-william-shakespeare
Lists It Appears On:

    • Lit Reactor
    • Stylist
    • The Culture Trip (Again)

Macbeth (full title The Tragedy of Macbeth) is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, and is considered one of his darkest and most powerful works. Set in Scotland, the play illustrates the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. The play is believed to have been written between 1599 and 1606, and is most commonly dated 1606.

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7.) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

madame-bovary-by-gustave-flaubert
Lists It Appears On:

    • Bustle
    • Stylist
    • The Culture Trip (Again)

Madame Bovary (1856) is the French writer Gustave Flaubert’s debut novel. The story focuses on a doctor’s wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel’s true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. Flaubert was a notorious perfectionist and claimed always to be searching for le mot juste (“the precise word”).

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6.) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-millennium-1-by-stieg-larsson
Lists It Appears On:

    • Lit Reactor
    • Stylist
    • The Culture Trip (Again)

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

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5.) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

anna-karenina-by-leo-tolstoy
Lists It Appears On:

    • Bustle
    • Stylist
    • The Culture Trip (Again)
    • Thought Catalog

Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Anna Karenina recounts St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina’s life story at the backdrop of the late-19th-century feudal Russian society. Having considered War and Peace not a novel, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel.

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4.) The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

the-catcher-in-the-rye-by-j-d-salinger
Lists It Appears On:

    • Alternative Reel
    • Bustle
    • Huffington Post
    • Lit Reactor
    • Thought Catalog

The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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3.) American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

american-psycho-by-bret-easton-ellis

Lists It Appears On:

    • Brooklyn Mag
    • Bustle
    • Huffington Post
    • Sabotage Times
    • The Culture Trip
    • Thought Catalog

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

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2.) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

gone-with-the-wind-by-margaret-mitchell
Lists It Appears On:

    • Lit Reactor
    • Love Romance Passion
    • Stylist
    • The Culture Trip
    • The Culture Trip (Again)
    • The Guardian

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.

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1.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

the-great-gatsby-by-f-scott-fitzgerald
Lists It Appears On:

    • Alternative Reel
    • Brooklyn Mag
    • Huffington Post
    • Lit Reactor
    • Publishing Crawl
    • Stylist
    • Thought Catalog

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

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100 More Of The Ultimate Antihero Books



 

After Claude Iris Owens Brooklyn Mag
All Fall Down Ally Carter Booklist Reader
Artemis Fowl Eoin Colfer The Guardian
Black Sun Rising C.S. Friedman) Best Fantasy Books
Bridget Jones’s Diary Helen Fielding Stylist
Brighton Rock The Culture Trip
Calvin and Hobbes Bill Watterson The Guardian
Clarissa The Culture Trip
Cold Shot to the Heart Wallace Stroby Crime Fiction Lover
Cracked Up to Be Courtney Summers Barnes & Noble
Dangerous Boys Abigail Haas Barnes & Noble
Dark Celebration Christine Feehan Love Romance Passion
Darkly Dreaming Dexter Jeff Lindsay Lit Reactor
Dragonlance Novels Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman Love Romance Passion
Elric Of Melnibone Michael Moorcock) Best Fantasy Books
Evil Genius Catherine Jinks Booklist Reader
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS Hunter S. Thompson Alternative Reel
Firecracker David Iserson Barnes & Noble
Game of Thrones Publishing Crawl
Gold Ring of Betrayal Michelle Reed Love Romance Passion
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Huffington Post
Good Omens Publishing Crawl
HAM ON RYE Charles Bukowski Alternative Reel
Hamlet Bustle
Heft Liz Moore The Christian Science Monitor
Herald Of The Storm Richard Ford) Best Fantasy Books
Heroes Die Matthew Woodring Stover) Best Fantasy Books
Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Sabotage Times
Howl’s Moving Castle Publishing Crawl
Immortals After Dark Series Kresley Cole Love Romance Passion
In Cold Blood Truman Capote Huffington Post
Just William Richmal Crompton The Guardian
Kane Karl Edward Wagner) Best Fantasy Books
Liar Justine Larbalestier Barnes & Noble
Liars, Inc. Paula Stokes Booklist Reader
Lies I Told Michelle Zink Booklist Reader
Little Children Tom Perrotta Brooklyn Mag
Lord Foul’s Bane Stephen R. Donaldson) Best Fantasy Books
Molesworth Geoffrey Willans The Guardian
Native Son Richard Wright Brooklyn Mag
ON THE ROAD Jack Kerouac Alternative Reel
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Ken Kesey Alternative Reel
Portnoy’s Complaint Bustle
Prep Bustle
Prince Of Fools Mark Lawrence) Best Fantasy Books
Prince Of Thorns Mark Lawrence) Best Fantasy Books
Queenpin Megan Abbott Crime Fiction Lover
Red Dragon Thomas Harris Lit Reactor
Scourge Of The Betrayer Jeff Salyards) Best Fantasy Books
Side Effects May Vary Julie Murphy Barnes & Noble
Sula Toni Morrison The Culture Trip (Again)
Tampa Alissa Nutting The Culture Trip (Again)
Ted Lewis Jack’s Return Home Crime Fiction Lover
Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy Stylist
The Amulet of Samarkand Jonathan Stroud The Guardian
The Awakening Thought Catalog
The Barrow Mark Smylie) Best Fantasy Books
The Black Company Glen Cook) Best Fantasy Books
The Blade Itself Joe Abercrombie) Best Fantasy Books
The Book of the New Sun Gene Wolfe) Best Fantasy Books
The Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis Stylist
The Crucible Thought Catalog
The Darkness That Comes Before R. Scott Bakk… Best Fantasy Books
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks E. Lockhart Booklist Reader
The Enchanted Rene Denfeld Huffington Post
The Fellowship of the Ring JRR Tolkien Love Romance Passion
The Fountainhead Thought Catalog
The Friends of Eddie Coyle George V Higgins Crime Fiction Lover
The Getaway Jim Thompson Crime Fiction Lover
The Girl On The Train Paul Hawkin Huffington Post
The Godfather Mario Puzo Lit Reactor
The Grim Company Luke Scull) Best Fantasy Books
The Gunslinger Stephen King Lit Reactor
The Hunter Richard Stark Crime Fiction Lover
The Inferno Thought Catalog
The Lost Saints of Tennessee Amy Franklin-Willis The Christian Science Monitor
The Magicians Lev Grossman Huffington Post
The Passionate Prude Elizabeth Thornton Love Romance Passion
The Postman Alway Rings Twice James M. Cain Brooklyn Mag
The Robber Bride Margaret Atwood The Culture Trip (Again)
The Rosie Project Graeme Simsion Huffington Post
The Scarlet Letter Thought Catalog
The Secret History Donna Tartt Huffington Post
The Steel Remains Richard K. Morgan) Best Fantasy Books
The Sun Also Rises Thought Catalog
The Talented Mr Ripley Patricia Highsmith The Guardian
The Vampire Chronicles The Culture Trip
The Wasp Factory The Culture Trip
The Witcher Andrzej Sapkowski) Best Fantasy Books
The Woman Upstairs Claire Messud Bustle
The Young Elites Marie Lu Huffington Post
To Kill a Mockingbird Thought Catalog
Towards the End of Time John Updike Bustle
TROPIC OF CANCER Henry Miller Alternative Reel
V For Vendetta Alan Moore Huffington Post
Vanity Fair The Culture Trip
Watergate Thomas Mallon The Christian Science Monitor
White Cat Holly Black Booklist Reader
Wolf and the Dove Kathleene Woodiwess Love Romance Passion
Wyatt Garry Disher Crime Fiction Lover


18 Antihero and Antiheroine Sources



Source Article
Alternative Reel Top 10 Anti-Heroes in American Literature
Barnes & Noble 6 YA Antiheroes We Love
Best Fantasy Books Best Anti-Hero Fantasy Books
Booklist Reader Up to No Good: YA Antiheroes We Love
Brooklyn Mag 10 Antiheroes in Literature That We Love to hate
Bustle 9 of Literature’s Least Likable Protagonists
Crime Fiction Lover CRIMINAL HEROES! SEVEN OF THE BEST
Huffington Post Modern Literature’s Greatest Anti Heroes And Unreliable Narrators
Lit Reactor The Top 10 Fictional Antiheroes
Love Romance Passion 10 Best Anti-Heroes: When the Hero of the Story Acts Like a Villain
Publishing Crawl BEST OF: ANTIHEROS
Sabotage Times The Ten Greatest Anti-Heroes In Fiction
Stylist Literature’s finest anti-heroines
The Christian Science Monitor 3 really good new novels with unusual anti-heroes
The Culture Trip Top 10 Greatest Literary Anti-Heroes
The Culture Trip (Again) Literature’s Top 10 Anti-Heroines
The Guardian Francesca Simon’s top 10 antiheroes
Thought Catalog 17 Truly Awful Literary Characters You Love To Hate

 

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