15 riveting books with unreliable narrators or ambiguous endings
She has to actively engage with the text in a way that other books may not demand. She has to critically evaluate the situations in the pages to figure out what on earth is going on. Some readers relish the challenge of deciding for themselves what happened next; some close the book feeling only frustration. Need ideas for this category? What are you reading for this category? What titles would you add to the list?
S0 in a way, one could argue that every first-person narrator is an unreliable narrator, but some narrators are more trustworthy than others. Here are 50 of the most intriguing books with unreliable narrators in fiction. Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it. The year is
An unreliable narrator is a narrator whose credibility has been seriously compromised. Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction. Sometimes the narrator's unreliability is made immediately evident. For instance, a story may open with the narrator making a plainly false or delusional claim or admitting to being severely mentally ill, or the story itself may have a frame in which the narrator appears as a character, with clues to the character's unreliability. A more dramatic use of the device delays the revelation until near the story's end.
I'll Believe It When I See It: The Unreliable Narrator
T he unreliable narrator is an odd concept. Any truth is, after all, just a matter of perspective. The only rule I have in how I let characters tell stories is that they must always tell the reader their version of the truth. No one likes being outright lied to, even in fiction. My novel Behind Her Eyes is, on the surface, the story of the three people in a love affair. An affair combined with a marriage built on secrets — which there must be in a thriller — is perfect for creating unreliable narrators.
I can still remember opening to the first page of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects nearly three years ago. Within a handful of hours, I'd burned through most of the book, pulled in deep by the voice of Camille Preaker, the protagonist and narrator of Flynn's literary debut. After Sharp Objects, I began to seek out books with unreliable narrators. Could Camille be trusted as the narrative voice? And if not, then could anyone be trusted? Booth saw literature as a "compact" between the author and the reader, and at the heart of this complicated relationship was rhetoric, persuasive, narrative writing.