There’s this ongoing debate about unlikeable characters: Should you rate a book lower if it has an unlikeable or problematic character? Even if that was actually the point of the book in the first place?
This is something I still struggle with myself. The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick is a book with an unlikeable character like that. And while I don’t want to rate a book lower only because the MC isn’t a perfect person, his words an actions did have an affect on my enjoyment of the book. And if I enjoyed a book less, that means I should give it a lower rating, right? Otherwise I’m just giving a book a rating that doesn’t make sense for me.
”Only the good die young, and I’ve lived nasty.” – David Granger, The Reason You’re Alive
Dilemma’s. Before I go off on an even longer tangent, let me tell you about the premise of book. In The Reason You’re Alive, we get to know David Granger. He’s a republican army veteran that loves guns and regularly craps on how ”politically correct” the current world is. I think most of us know someone like this, and most of us don’t really like spending time with them.
However, David has an eclectic group of friends who all tolerate him, including a gay couple and a Vietnamese woman. Reading this felt a little unrealistic to me. David has very liberal opinions at times, yet still votes against the interest of his diverse group of friends? How does that make sense?
I won’t go too much into detail of the plot, just know that there is one, even though you don’t get into it until halfway through this 200 page book. I felt like the plot only existed to make David look good, and to sort of excuse his racist beliefs – ”He’s racist, but he also did [insert plot points] for his son and wife, so he can’t be a bad person.” It just felt like the author gave the MC some liberal viewpoints to make him look sympathetic and relatable.
It’s weird how David Granger grew on me throughout the book, even though he was very racist (he also kept shitting on Dutch people and I’m Dutch, ha). I did like how the book showed there were shades of gray to everyone. David cares for his family and friends, and often tries to see the best in everyone. But at the same time he’s very closeminded about religion and specific ethnic minorities, which meant the book just left a bad taste in my mouth.