Storytime for Grownups: Villains… They’re Just Like Us

Dwight Shrute, of “The Office” fame, said, “A hero is part-human and part-supernatural. A hero is born out of childhood trauma, or out of a disaster that must be avenged.” Villains, in many cases, are mirror images of their superhero foes. I think there’s a lesson there. While you ponder this quandary, check out these books on the villainest of villains!


Chiaverini, Jennifer. “Fates and traitors : a novel of John Wilkes Booth”.

“One wonders, when learning what veteran historical novelist Chiaverini’s (Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, 2015) latest consummate historical fiction is about, whether President Lincoln and his assassination have been done pardon the unsarcastic pun to death? Wait to judge until you’ve seen what Chiaverini does with the topic in her copiously researched novel. Remarkably, she manages to build dramatic tension despite the reader knowing how the story ends: with the death of Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre and that of assassin John Wilkes Booth at the hands of law-enforcement figures a short time later. Rather than a plot spoiler, previous knowledge of the end of the Lincoln-Booth tale is a plot enhancer. Booth takes shape, with far more definition than the dark and sketchy impression most people have, through the lives of four women who loved him: his mother, his sister, his great love, and the owner of the boardinghouse where Booth and his fellow conspirators met, who was hanged for her efforts. Resurrecting one of the country’s most notorious villains as the main character of a completely compelling novel, which presents him in an understanding light, presents no challenge for this talented author.” –Hooper, Brad ©2016 Booklist


Henry, Christina. “Lost boy : the true story of Captain Hook”.

“From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook–a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is… There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first–and favorite–lost boy to his greatest enemy. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock–the kinds of playthings that bite. Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter lies.” ®Bowker


Johnston, Ollie and Frank Thomas. “The Disney villain”.

“[This] project is an oversize volume spotlighting memorable villains from more than six decades of the studio’s animated films. The rogues’ roll call begins well before the wicked queen in Snow White (1937), reaching all the way back to Mickey Mouse’s early nemesis Peg Leg Pete, who actually antedated Mickey, and extending through The Three Little Pigs’ Big Bad Wolf down to The Little Mermaid’s Ursula and Aladdin’s Jafar. All are depicted in hundreds of illustrations that include plenty of full-color frame enlargements and animators’ sketches. Veteran animators Johnston and Thomas, there at the creation of most of the studio’s masterworks, describe the characters’ development and provide fascinating insights into the making of the films and the changes in Disney’s approach over the years. – Gordon Flagg, © Booklist


Misiroglu, Gina and Michael Eury. “The supervillain book : the evil side of comics and Hollywood”.

With 150 full-color illustrations, including dozens of classic comic covers, The Superhero Book is the ultimate A-Z compendium of everyone’s favorite superheroes and their mythology, sidekicks, villains, love interests, superpowers, and modi operandi.” ®Bowker


Moore, Peter. “V is for Villain”.

“Brad Baron has been living in the shadow of his older brother, Blake, all his life. Blake is bigger, stronger, faster and he can fly. Somehow, Blake got the superpower genes, and all Brad got was enhanced intelligence. In the superherocentric world of V Is for Villain, brains don’t count for much. Just because you don’t have powers . . . doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a human being, says Blake. Who wouldn’t turn villain in the face of that kind of attitude? And when Brad is transferred out of the hero program at his school, he meets other kids like him with minor or low-level powers, kids who question the might-equals-right paradigm that exalts superheroes without regard to the consequences of their methods. Maybe the difference between hero and villain is muddier than it seems.” –Willey, Paula ©2014 Booklist


Ostrander, John, Luke McDonnell, Bob Lewis, Karl Kese, Dave Hunt, et al. “Suicide squad. Volume 1, Trial by fire”.

It’s up to the government to keep the bad guys in captivity-but Amanda Waller, a tough-as-nails federal agent, has other plans. She’s heading up Task Force X (aka, the Suicide Squad) as an ultimatum to the world’s most notorious super-villains. These criminals chew on a tricky bargain: either accept her devious, nearly impossible missions in the name of democracy, or rot in jail. And one other thing: most operatives don’t make it back alive!” ®Bowker


Robertson, Courtney. “I didn’t come here to make friends : confessions of a reality show villain”.

“In I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends former Bachelor “villain” and season 16 winner Courtney Robertson shares her story of love and heartbreak, and the reality of appearing on reality TV. For the first time ever, a former Bachelor contestant takes us along on her journey to find love and reveals that “happily ever after” isn’t always what it seems.” ®hoopla


Snyder, Scott. “Batman Arkham : Mister Freeze”

“An expert in the field of cryogenics, Victor Fries led a relatively normal existence. He worked diligently and married a woman named Nora who then became terminally ill. To stop her degenerative disease from taking her life, Victor put her into suspended animation. But a horrible lab accident transformed the former Dr. Fries into an ice-colored monstrosity incapable of surviving above freezing temperatures. To counteract this, Victor constructed a special, ultra-durable suit to keep his body alive. He embraced his new persona and became Mr. Freeze. Mr. Freeze is on a constant quest to bring back his beloved Nora, and he’ll do whatever it takes to succeed. He wields a freeze gun and uses ice and cold to wreak havoc–mostly in Gotham and against Batman.” ©hoopla


Tipton, Scott. “Star Trek, Khan : ruling in hell. Issue 1”.

When the most infamous villain in STAR TREK history is last seen in the Original Series episode Space Seed, ” Khan Noonian Singh’s an elegant, proud warrior-king. When he’s next seen in STAR TREK II, he’s a grizzled maniac, twisted by loss and an unquenchable thirst for revenge. What has happened between these two points in time to so radically alter what seemed to be an unbreakable will?” ©hoopla


Yoshida, Shuichi. “Villain”.

“A chilling and seductive story of loneliness, desperation, and murder, Villain is the English-language debut of one of Japan’s most popular writers. A woman is killed at a ghostly mountain pass in southern Japan and the local police quickly pinpoint a suspect. But as the puzzle pieces of the crime slowly click into place, new questions arise. Is a villain simply the person who commits a crime or are those who feel no remorse for malicious behavior just as guilty? Moving from office parks and claustrophobic love hotels to desolate seaside towns and lighthouses, Shuichi Yoshida’s dark thriller reveals the inner lives of men and women who all have something to hide.” ®Bowker


If you’re a big comic books fan, you might want to check out our review of  the WPB Comic Crawl, which took place on Sunday, July 16 along Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach. This coming weekend, fans of all things comics, sci-fi, and more will gather in Fort Lauderdale for Supercon. Palm Beach Happening will be at both of these events; will you?

You should also check out our recent listing of some of the best superhero books on the shelves of your local library.

The Palm Beach County Library System has dozens of electronic books, printed books both novels & non-fiction, audiobooks, and DVDs or Blu-ray discs to help you understand how much we really need superheroes in our daily lives! Travel to your closest branch or find them on the web! As always, we’d like to thank Adam Davis, director of system services for the Palm Beach County Library System, for all his help in putting together this list.