Examples of Unreliable Narrator | Writing Tips

What makes a great unreliable narrator. Continuing on from our post on the unreliable narrator, here are some of our favourite examples.

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Examples Of The Unreliable Narrator

A Song of Ice and Fire

A Song Of Ice And Fire | George R R Martin

 

Did the Hound kiss Sansa? Probably not. But the unreliability doesn’t end there. Alternating points of views, complex characters with ego problems that compromise their versions of events, and a vast, sprawling historical fantasy make for a world filled with lies, denial, subterfuge and shifting perspective.

If you have only watched the show, you’ve only half experienced the story.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl | Gillian Flynn

A book that turns on the reliability of our narrator, where everything is both a fabrication and the truth, depending on your point of view. Who you side with in Gone Girl’s uncomfortable conclusion can be the thing that breaks (and mends) friendships. To say more would be to spoil the pudding.

Rashomon

Rashomon | Akira Kurosawa

A classic film and one of the few great examples of unreliable narrator in a visual medium. Rashomon is a film that makes sense, bit also doesn’t have a solution. Kurosawa challenges our trust in the camera, and the techniques pioneered in this film would go on to influence other great films like The Usual Suspects.

Liar and Spy

Liar and Spy | Rebecca Stead

A wonderful YA novel and winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Seventh grader Georges (silent s) father has lost his job. His family moves to a new apartment in Brooklyn whre he meets Safer and Candy, two homeschooled kids who got to lick their own names.

Safer recruits Georges as a spy, their mission, to find out more about the mysterious M X. Bit while Safer is a bit if a trickster, the reader must decide if Georges can be trusted as well.

Though it’s targeted at young readers, just about any age will enjoy this read.

Book of the New Sun | Gene Wolfe

Book of the New Sun | Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe’s epic BotNS is seperated into four short novels that tell the story of Severian, an apprentice torturer set on the path to meet his destiny.

Despite his claim of a photographic memory, Severian’s story is plagued by inconsistences. Partly due to his immaturity of experience, other times to hide his misdeeds, and sometimes it’s questionable whether Severian is even telling the story at all.

A true masterpiece of Science Fiction, BotNS has influence dozens of successful authors, rewards close reading, and is a must for all fans of Sci Fi and writing in general.

If this four book epic is seems to much, Try The Fifth Head of Cerberus. Three short novellas in a 200 page novel that pioneered a lot of the ideas that found their way into BoTNS

The Watchmen | Alan Moore

The Watchmen | Allan Moore

Comic book fans everywhere will know what’s up with this incredible work of fiction. A superhero story where the superheros are rarely super, or heroes. Moore and artists Dave Gibbons and John Higgins tell the generational story of crime fighters plagued by their own desires, nerousis and dramas. Calling into question the history of The Watchmen as well as who the bad guy really is.

Examples of Unreliable Narrator

The Usual Suspects | Bryan Singer

Not too much can be said about this film without spoiling it. Let’s just say that maybe there isn’t too much honour among thieves.

The Good Soldier Ford Maddox Ford

The Good Soldier | Ford Maddox Ford

The text book example. They teach this one in school so its probably worth checking out, although the story itself is tragic and unrelentingly sad, read to comprehend the suffering, lies and deceit that masquerade as deceny and manners.

 

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