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7 Literary Characters Who Made Better Decisions Than Archie Andrews

by  | June 13

Archie Andrews has come a long way from his Season 1 problems, and Riverdale’s bizarre plot has followed. Remember when the biggest decision Archie had to make was whether he wanted to pursue music or football? Because obviously, no one in the history of high school has ever managed to do both. While murder and drug kingpins and vigilante justice quickly distracted Archie from his high school life, his decision-making skills did not necessarily improve, leading to endless plot twists and confounding tragedies. Does he even play football anymore? Does anyone in that show even go to school? We can’t answer those questions. But we can give you a list of awesome books with characters who made tough or questionable decisions, because we love a morally ambiguous literary hero or heroine just as much as we love Riverdale.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet, Romeo and Juliet:

Shakespeare’s classic tragedy about two warring families whose children fall in love is a beloved classic precisely because the characters make rushed decisions based on their passion and defiance, and it results in heartrending loss. While we cannot confirm Archie has read this play, since we don’t know if he even goes to school anymore, he might relate to the impassioned love affair of the two teenage main characters and how they risk everything for their doomed love.

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Pet Sematary (Media Tie-In)

Pet Sematary (Media Tie-In)

by Stephen King

Dr. Louis Creed, Pet Sematary:

As someone from the country, I strongly advise people not to move to the country. They especially shouldn’t buy an old house or befriend suspicious neighbors. But these gut-wrenching decisions are exactly what makes Pet Sematary such a fantastic horror novel, and allows master storyteller Stephen King to keep the plot twists coming and the fear lurking around every corner. Riverdale definitely leans on these sinister horror methods to drive the story, leaving us screaming “WHY?” at our screens as loudly as we’re screaming it while reading this ghoulish King tale.

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My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper

by Jodi Picoult

The Fitzgerald Family, My Sister’s Keeper:

This book is undoubtedly a tragedy, and one of Jodi Picoult’s most profound works about family. What makes this book so powerful and gut-wrenching is that while her characters are making decisions for themselves, as well as for the lives of their loved ones, it’s obvious that everyone is desperately trying to do the right thing—and that the right thing can be deeply unclear.

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The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye:

Perhaps another high-schooler Archie will read about, Holden Caulfield becomes disillusioned with his privileged life and makes a series of bad decisions. Holden’s anger and stream of consciousness dominate this literary classic, along with his tendency to blame others for his cynicism and for his own choices. It’s a heartbreaking journey, and one that allows room for everyday people to express confusion and pain, even when their lives seem fine from the outside.

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1984 (Centennial Edition)

1984 (Centennial Edition)

by George Orwell

Winston Smith, 1984:

This dystopian classic is a must-read, and embodies incredibly difficult decisions. The main character, Winston Smith, lives under a totalitarian regime and has little to no ability to make his own decisions after a lifetime of brainwashing. 1984 is haunting and profound, and demonstrates that an individual’s ability to determine his or her own fate is part of what makes us human, and what makes life worth living—even if those decisions have disastrous consequences.

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Into the Jungle

Into the Jungle

by Erica Ferencik

Lily Bushwold, Into the Jungle:

This intense new thriller features Lily Bushwold, a young woman who travels to Bolivia for a teaching job and, while there, follows her boyfriend to his home village to investigate the murder of his nephew. The village is set deep in the jungle, and the journey to it is filled with wildlife and circumstances that try Lily’s convictions—and her life. While I can’t agree with Lily’s choice to go into the primitive forest, mainly because my own philosophy is based on avoiding bugs at all cost, Into the Jungle makes for an incredibly gripping thriller you definitely won’t want to miss.

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The Turn of the Key

The Turn of the Key

by Ruth Ware

Rowan Caine, The Turn of the Key:

This deliciously creepy suspense story, pubbing in August, begins with the narrator writing to her lawyer from her jail cell. Rowan Caine, a former nanny for a Scottish family that lived in a “smart house,” tries to explain the events that led up to her arrest for murder. Rowan is enthralled with her live-in nannying gig at first, but things quickly derail in Ruth Ware’s signature style. Though her actions are questionable, Rowan Caine maintains her innocence, and that, after it all, she regrets nothing.

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Carrie is a Digital Marketing Associate at Simon & Schuster. She loves character-driven literary fiction with a strong voice, as well as memoirs and social science. When she’s not reading, you can find her at kickboxing, the beach, or hanging with her best dog pal, Buddy.