Are there characters whose worlds you’d never want to live in? This week’s Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and Bookish asks us to explore just such a question.
I took liberties with this list including other media types whose stories are all based on books. Manga, anime, movies and television all give us worlds we love to explore while not places we want to actually live in. It’s the characters though that really bring the world to life, the trials they overcome and the experiences they give us a view into. What are the worst kind of worlds to you?
#1 – Raami in In the Shadow of the Banyan
A Book and only a Book
History can be one of the scariest worlds we can ever know. To know that human beings actually committed these atrocities in In the Shadow of the Banyan is perhaps worse than the worst of tortures. Cambodia lost a third of their people, the vast majority of them the most educated. To be a child cast into the ocean of people who endured this vast genocide…
I chose Raami because I can’t imagine growing up during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. To be so full of knowledge and yet too innocent at first to understand why so many are disappearing… including your father whom you adore. Such a lovely young girl full of poetry and beauty forced to deal with such an ugly way of life. Ironically, as she grew up she burrowed deep inside herself as more and more people disappeared, this time with the full understanding of what was happening to them. Now you can imagine how each and every person whose life touched yours left this life: was it a knock to the back of the head, a noose you wove yourself or death through useless manual labor?
#2 – Kabuto in Psyren
A book form called a Manga
Psyren has one of the scariest worlds I’ve ever read about – a future world that is so stark, people are pulling humans from the past to try to keep that world from coming to pass.
I chose Kabuto Kirisaki because of his dual propensity to run from problems/danger and his ability to predict that danger so he can save himself. I know that sounds counter intuitive but I wouldn’t want to live while all my allies die. I wouldn’t want to be left in such a world as the future. To be scared literally every second and want to run from the very fabric of life itself is no way to survive.
#3 – Liesel in The Book Thief
Movie based on a Book
Any book set in Nazi Germany is not going to be a world I want to live in. The same is true for The Book Thief. I can’t imagine the indoctrination they received at the hands of their own people, the very people who embroiled them in the whole war. And as a young child whose parents were stripped from them it would be equally as hard to endure.
I chose Liesel because she lived. It’s rather easy to die, but especially hard when one is expected to live after person after person you love dies on you. You lose your parents. You lose your brother. You lose your adopted brother. You lose you new parents. You lose the boy you loved. I just can’t imagine. How can we, we haven’t had to live through much war, especially a war on our own soil.
#4 – Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist
Anime based on a Manga book series
I’m really stretching the limits by including this anime, Fullmetal Alchemist, based on a manga but the Eldric brother’s world deserves mention in a list of horrible places to live. In this alternate earth world alchemy is used to reshape matter including the matter that makes up life. This leads the evil men of the world to try to harness that life for themselves.
I chose Edward Elric because he has to live with the guilt of what he did to his younger brother Alphonse. Not only was it Edward who embroiled both boys in learning alchemy but it was he who sought to revive their mother despite his brother’s doubts. As the oldest he lead the way, he made the decision. As an oldest myself I wouldn’t want to carry that burden.
#5 – Ganta in Deadman Wonderland
A book form called a Manga
Deadman Wonderland is set in the dual hell of a theme park prison. Yeah, scary. A dystopian world is hellish but one where a sort of life is possible. A massive prison where life is fought for everyday in elaborate battles of survival for spectators sport is another whole kind of terror.
I chose Ganta because he’s innocent. It would be one thing to actually deserve life in this prison world but it would be compounded a thousand times over by a lack of guilt for your predicament. It isn’t helped that he can control his own blood and thus more is expected of him, thrusting him into battle after battle.
#6 – Lisbeth in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Two Movies based on a Book
There is nothing particularly wrong with the world in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s our world after all and while it’s not perfect it is ours. Most people find it boring over terrifying or horrible. (There of course are regions of the world that are horrible but I’m just saying in general!)
I chose Lisbeth because she seems to have gotten the short end of the life stick. What a sucky life! Sure she tries to react in a strong way but no matter how she does wrestle with life it never turns out well for her. The only this she has going for her is that her author is dead. Life for a human being really can’t get any worse.
#7 – Lori in The Walking Dead
Television Show based on a Comic Book Series
The Walking Dead is really a comic book but as book is in the name I’m including it! (That it also happens to be a television show is also pretty cool.) I have to say I’m not really worried about the zombies in this world. To have the opportunity to kill things and not be considered psychotic is kind of cool.
The reason I chose Lori though is not because she’s pregnant but because of her major internal conflict with her husband. In the real world she chose the sheriff because he was a good guy, and he’d provide her with a good life in that world. Now in the zombie world she isn’t so sure Rick makes a good mate and she’s kind of partial to Shane, who’s proven himself a good protector. Now she’s stuck with Rick and everyday she trusts him less and less. I wouldn’t wish that on my enemy, let alone myself.
#8 – Bill Compton in True Blood
Television Show based on a Book Series
I read many of the books in the Sookie Stackhouse series even before I knew there was a television show, True Blood. Of all the love interests for Sookie I loved Bill the best of all. As the series rotated through varies virile men I grew less and less interested.
I chose Bill because I wouldn’t want his ability to remember the slightest details and faces while simultaneously being expected to drink blood. Even the idea of licking my own blood makes me queasy. I’ll take death when it comes for me thank you! The hell that is evolved as time passes and not only are you outliving any humans you might care for but you have the memory of all that yucky blood. No thank you.
#9 – Matt in The House of Scorpion
A Book and only a Book
I’m always interested when science fiction is incorporated into a story. The House of Scorpion was fascinating as it was set it South America and was about cloning. Yes, very real and baby living cloning. It was a short-lived sub-genre but a fascinating concept.
I chose Matt because I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be to actually be the clone. While I’m not a fan of the story itself, it would be paralyzing to learn one is in fact not a real person but a copy of the old man whose compound you live on. Even more so that all the other clones were made into animals so as to not cause conflict in the minds of the family involved. Even when Matt survives his purpose for living, I would not want to be left with a large drug cartel that I would have to somehow dismantle, probably at the protests of many powerful people.
#10 – Katniss in The Hunger Games
Movie based on a Book
The Hunger Games is definitely set in a dystopian world. Who wants to live in a world characterized by human misery, oppression, or squalor? No one. Still life in the other districts really isn’t so bad. Katniss happens to live in the worst of the lot, that’s all. I wouldn’t even mind being in the games if I came from one of the pro-games districts because at least then I’d be prepared.
I chose Katniss because of the way her story ends. She goes to all this effort to preserve her sister’s life and what happens? She dies. In a horribly wasteful and tragic way on top of it. That’s not all. If life in the districts was going to improve in some appreciable way with the change of Presidents then that would at least make Primrose’s death worth it. It doesn’t. It wasn’t. Really it’s just a change in guards. What a waste.