Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the prompt is your top ten books for readers who like [blank]. It’s no secret that I love books with unreliable narrators. There’s something about the limitations placed on me as a reader and the challenge of trying to work out what’s really going on that appeals to me.
1. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey – I’ve mentioned this book before, and it’s still one of my current favourites. The protagonist, Maud, is the ultimate unreliable narrator as she’s suffering with dementia. As she tries to figure out what’s going on in her life and solve a long-standing mystery, the reader is pulled along with her, unsure what information to trust.
2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – Cathy knows so little about her own life that she can’t help but be unreliable. It’s even better because as readers we start to realise what is going on before she does and that’s what makes this such a hard-hitting dystopian novel.
3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – I could hardly leave this off the list…
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Amy and Nick Dunn both tell lies and distort the truth and my sympathies kept switching backwards and forwards between the two of them. This is unreliable narration at it’s best because we know we’re being lied to, it’s just a matter of working out what to believe.
5. Room by Emma Donoghue – This is one of my favourite types of unreliable narration, that of a child. Not only that, but Jack is a very unusual child in that he has never known the outside world and believes that everything outside of his little room is fictional. A stunning novel, and one of my absolute favourite unreliable narrators.
6. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness – This whole series rides on the fact that Todd does not know the truth about the society he is a part of. As readers, we are limited by his knowledge and we have to trust in him despite knowing that there is so much he doesn’t understand.
7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – Humbert Humbert is a deluded and manipulative narrator who tries to justify his interest in young girls through his narrative.
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – Charlie is suffering from the psychological effects of being abused as a child and his outlook is therefore completely unreliable. This story is told in letters and we are kept guessing right until the end.
I’m actually struggling to finish this list without just repeating a bunch of books I mention all the time. More Than This by Patrick Ness, The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, and most YA dystopias could all sit comfortably on this list.
Please let me know if you have any recommendations for great novels with unreliable narrators (especially if they’re YA) and feel free to link to your own TTT list in the comments – I’d love to read them.