It was only around 6 months into my time as a blogger that I learnt the term ‘unreliable narrator and what it meant:
” It is a character who tells the reader a story that cannot be taken at face value. This may be because the point of view character is insane, lying, deluded or for any number of other reasons. “
I was only then that I realised I had read quite a few books with unreliable narrators without even knowing it. Whether my narrator had a mental illness, was not of an age to understand the full extent of what they are talking about, have memory blocks etc. I find these kind of books really quite interesting. You can’t take anything the narrator tells you at face value & you tend to find people come away with vastly differing opinions because of this. This weeks Top 5 Saturday is all about… you guess it Unreliable Narrators, and i’m focusing on my favourite books I’ve read that contain them.
Thanks to Mandy over at Devouring books for coming up with these awesome topics every week! You should definitely go check her blog out because she posts some great content.
- Share your top 5 books of the current topic– these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated, you can do it any way you want.
- Tag the original post
- Tag 5 people
Eleanor Oliphant – Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine
This book was much funnier than i expected it to be and a huge reason for that was the narrator Eleanor. We know from the start that Eleanor has a mental illness and is incredibly awkward in social situations. We see her try and fail in most social events, including calling people rude, when in fact she is the one in the wrong. Eleanor doesn’t see it this way though, she see’s the world completely differently from most of us and it made for a informative, interesting, heartbreaking and sometimes humorous read.
Scout Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird
When you realise the ideals of this book and the talking points it is meant to bring about, realising it is told from the perspective of a 6 year old girl may come across as baffling to some. Scout has no way of knowing the true implications of what she sees and relays, and reading the book from her childish and naive perspective make the story that more heartwarming and show the true innocence of children. But it’s not just her age that make her an unreliable narrator. She is a somewhat privileged white child, attempting to tell the problems of black people at a time where that was seen as almost a crime in itself. Her narrative and perspective make for a harrowing and heart wrenching story, one that shows that people should sometimes look at things from the simplistic perspective of a child to make the world better.
Eva Khatchadourian – We Need to Talk About Kevin
This was a strange, and not easy read, that I still find myself thinking about almost 10 years after reading it. The story is told via letters from Eva to her estranged husband. Flitting between the present and past events that centre around her child Kevin. People who read this book end up in two categories. Those that believe Kevin is inherently evil and empathise with Eva for having to bring up a child like that. The others believe that Kevin was a child of his circumstances, Eva blatantly admits not wanting to become a mother and admits her own faults of not really being ‘motherly’, these people believe that Eva’s faults as a mother are to blame for Kevin’s behaviours.
Guinevere – The Guinevere Deception
Guinevere is the epitome of an unreliable narrator, mainly because she remembers little of her life before, and simply knows that she must protect Arthur at all costs. Merlin has told her that she grew up with him, as his child and yet through the book we see her have flashbacks/memories that hint at something else. Guinevere has no idea who to trust, which leaves us as the reader in a similar situation.
Ok. So I could only think of 4, but there are probably loads more out there. Have you read any of these books? What did you think about the unreliable narrators? Let me know in the comments.