After starting this book, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins, I realized that most of the books I have read are written from the protagonist’s point of view. In fact almost every single book in my collection is centered on a hero/heroine who faces some kind of obstacle in the form of an antagonist. So what’s the deal? Why are there less books told from the perspective of the bad guy?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the good guys. I cheer for them, cry for them and rejoice when they come out on top… but why is it that most books are told from the protagonist’s vantage point? Is it a part of the human condition to want to side with the righteous? Is it easier for writers to create novels that center on characters who have character traits that are seen as desirable?
In “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” the main character is Coriolanus Snow. He was the antagonist in the original Hunger Games Trilogy. Throughout the previous books, readers grow to hate him as he embodies evil. However, the new book which is a prequel is depicting him as the main character. The journey of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is Snow’s origin story and provides clarity regarding his descent into the darkness that leads to his corruption. Yet, there is something about how the author is writing him in this new book that feels as though she wants readers to side with him.
Although I generally veer towards the more traditional protagonist character, this change has been refreshing. Is Snow’s main character status the beginning of a new wave of protagonists that skip the traditional tropes?
I am enjoying reading the perspective of someone who’s morale compass doesn’t always point north. It is different, surprising and entertaining to say the least.
7 thoughts on “Book Musing: The Antagonist Point of View”
Interesting point. I recently read a book, “The wives between us” in which I was in the mind of the antagonist, or so I thought. I noticed I was initially uncomfortable, annoyed even. The author took me for a ride. I too ultimately appreciate the author stetching my mind.
Question, are you finding it easy to recall all the details from the original series? I really enjoyed those books but it has been so long!
Will I have trouble following the story?
No, I am really enjoying it. However I would suggest either rereading the books OR (what I’m doing) watching the movies prior to reading so you don’t miss all of the connections. It is making the book more enjoyable for sure!
The thing is, if it’s from the antagonist’s POV then, well, they aren’t the antagonist. The protagonist just means the person the story is focused on. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily good. So it is actually impossible to tell a story from the antagonist’s POV.
For example, Suicide Squad. We could say the story is focused on the “bad guys” but the fact is they become the protagonists and we root for them when the story is focused on them.
There is also Breaking Bad. Walter White is an objectively bad person, but he is the protagonist of that story.
The antagonist is just the person who works against the protagonist’s goals. So in Breaking Bad, Walter’s DEA brother-in-law becomes the antagonist, even though he’s a good man doing his job, because he is working against Walter’s goal of not being caught.
Yeah true… so he was the antagonist in the previous books but this book he was switched into the protagonist role which is traditionally reserved for “good characters”. Do you know any series that have done that? Switched back and forth with the same character?
Well, I did it in my book Combustion. The protagonist from that book is the antagonist in the sequel.
I’d say that also happened in V.C Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic. The grandmother is the antagonist throughout the series, but she’s the protagonist in the prequel. Cathy is the protagonist in books one and two, but a secondary antagonist in book three.
Many books with multiple POVs have characters that act as the antagonist to other characters.
I think it’s just the way you’re defining an antagonist. It doesn’t have to be some evil person. It’s just the person who works against the goals of the main character.
Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. And definitely- by definition, you’re 100% right. I think in most traditional books- usually the roles aren’t as fluid.. but maybe this just means I need to expand my horizons and keep reading 🙂
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