Problematic Faves Book Tag

And I’m back to catching up on tags.

I’m a year late (and a dollar short) with this one. I was tagged for it last August by Rose, the awesome librarian who blogs over on Rose Read (thanks!). The tag was created by Izzi, who runs the Ravenclaw Book Club.

A character everyone loves that you hate:

That would be Carmen from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. I enjoyed reading these books and love the friendship between the girls but of them all, Carmen is the one I like the least. I’ve only read 3 of the 5 books so far and in each Carmen is vindictive and horrible toward her parents, especially her mom. She takes her mother’s affection for granted and though she makes amends by the novel’s end, she doesn’t learn from her experience and again acts selfishly in the next book, the next summer.

In these books, I see the lack of a positive relationship between the girls and their mothers as problematic. It’s nice to see that the girls have a strong friendship with each other, but it would be nice to see at least one have a positive relationship with her mom. It’s possible that this happens in the 2 books I haven’t yet read, so I’ll hope for that.

A character everyone hates that you love:

Cersei Lannister from the Song of Ice & Fire series by George R.R. Martin. Only a handful of people like her, I think, and I’m one of them. I like her as a villain and how cunning and ruthless she is and that in this fantasy world where women have no agency, she is one of few who does and she fiercely protects it.

Cersei is a problematic character for many reasons. She is said to trade sex for influence causing some characters to hint she’s a whore and though she is in a position of power, she does nothing to help the women suffering around her. Still, I really like her character and am curious to see how her character develops in the TV show (I’m on season 1). I’d say the same for the books, but who knows when the next novel will be out.

A character who started out problematic but grew to be a better person:

Malta immediately came to mind. She’s a protagonist from Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders fantasy series. She starts out as an annoying, petulant teenager driven by selfishness, but develops into a mature young woman who uses her wits to survive the dangerous situations she’s placed in and help save others.

For half the trilogy, Malta was a highly unlikable character. During that half, she began to develop into a problematic character because her circumstances led her to begin exploring her sexuality the same time her family’s finances and well-being is in crisis. This led her to make some bad choices where she considered her body as a commodity to use to tempt her suitors to help her, though being as young and immature as she was, I don’t think she fully realized the implications of her actions or what would have been expected of her if her suitors were a bit different.

A character who started out good but became problematic:


Superman from Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar, illus. by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett. This is one of my favorite comics. It reimagines the all-American superhero as a Superman who advocates for communist values. The story shows that good intentions don’t always lead to great outcomes. (I’d say how Superman is problematic, but that’s a huge spoiler.)

A problematic couple that you ship (doesn’t have to be canon):

Rose and Dimitri in Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. The chemistry between the two is the only reason why I read the book, I liked it in the movie. The couple is problematic because Dimitri is years older than Rose (summin like that) and is her teacher too, but I liked them together.

It’s the same with Malta and Reyn from Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders series. I totally ship them, but Reyn is too old for Malta (he’s described as a grown-ass man and she a mere girl, though that depends on whose perspective we’re reading from), which makes that dream thing they shared when courting highly inappropriate.

A couple everyone ships that you find problematic (doesn’t have to be canon):

Jane and Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I think most people probably ship them because that’s what Jane wants in the story, but I don’t think they are suited for each other, even at the end. I think instead of entering a relationship in which Mr. Rochester would be demanding and controlling, Jane entered in a relationship with him where she’s the one with the power and control so much so that Mr. Rochester must experience the world through Jane.

I don’t like this. I think it’s just as bad as Jane being a relationship where Rochester controls everything. I’d prefer they were equals. Though, considering the time in which the book is set, I guess that is possible and the situation the novel ends with is the “best” Bronte could think of.

A problematic trope that you love:

Teacher-student relationship. I don’t know why it appeals to me, but I like it. I’m highlighting Unteachable by Leah Raeder here because I’ve already mentioned Vampire Academy and those are the only two novels I’ve seen that in. Though I like the trope, I’d feel more comfortable if it appeared in books for older readers. Unteachable is new adult, I believe, so that’s okay; but Vampire Academy is YA. However, Unteachable takes place in a high-school setting and though both individuals in the “taboo” relationship are technically adults, I’d feel less uncomfortable if the story was set at a college. Still, I really like the story and the writing.

A book/TV show/movie that is problematic but you love anyway:

The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce, written in the 1980s, is one of my all-time favorite YA fantasy series, but it does suffer from white-savior complex and presents marginalized groups in the story as inferior to Whites. Still, I like it and often reread it and I still love the protagonist, Alanna, and her friends, especially George.

A book/TV show/movie that you hate because it’s problematic:

She by H. Rider Haggard because it’s demeaning to women, though the most powerful being in the book is a woman, and presents African races as inferior to white European races. I hate the story, interesting as it is, but I gave it 2 stars because it’s well-written.

Lastly, your problematic fave:

Always, the Hound, Sandor Clegane. He’s one of my favorite characters in the Song of Ice & Fire series. He’s hard and ruthless, but I get the impression that he has very strong morals and is often misunderstood….maybe not, but the strong morals part stands, maybe. (Wishful thinking?)


Aoife at Pretty Purple Polkadots

Meggy at Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles

Max at Maxxesbooktopia

The Book Loving Pharmacist

…and everyone who wants to do this…


9 thoughts on “Problematic Faves Book Tag

  1. Ah *high five* and snap about Carmen!! I actually buddy read those books with my sister- and we both *hated* Carmen! I mean, she did have her moments when she was selfless and considerate- but I really didn’t like her in general. And you’re right, it was a shame that those books didn’t have as good a focus on the relationships with the mums, although they did have good relationships with each other, which I really liked. hehe yeah I’m firmly in the *hate Cersei* camp. Wow I really want to read Red Son now- that sounds like a really different re-imagining. Yeah I get that about Song of Lionness :/ Great post!


    1. Yea, I think you might find Red Son interesting and I’d love to see your thoughts on it.
      And glad I’m not the only one who realizes that about Carmen. There’s no reason she has to be that damn horrible.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahahaha I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got the notification for this 😀 I don’t think anyone has done this tag in like a year 😛
    I haven’t read any of these books, so I can’t agree or disagree with anything you’ve said, but thank you for doing the tag (and linking back to my blog!) xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post! I also have a major weakness for teacher/student ships and age differences, lmao. And Cersei and The Hound are two of my fav GOT characters, honestly, though I’ll admit I haven’t read the books or seen the last season and a half. I need to catch up!


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