I had the hardest time coming up with a character for the letter “U”, until I realized that I just needed to look for my favorite uncle from literature. I came up with…
Uncle Asriel from The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
I still remember the first time I read this book; my 8th grade Language Arts teacher (the woman I blame for my own teaching career) did a literature circles unit on fantasy and science fiction. I chose to read The Golden Compass, even though my best friend was trying to get me to re-read The Giver with her. I fell in love with Pullman’s story, and even after time passed and I read the tale as an adult, I still adored Lyra and her crazy world.
“Uncle” Asriel is a beautifully deceptive character; Lyra and the reader assume he offers strength and protection, but at the last minute, it becomes clear that he is the worst enemy Lyra will face. He’s charming and smooth, and seems benevolent enough. His deep betrayal of Lyra feels like a betrayal of the reader, and I think “Uncle” Asriel is still one of the most chilling bad guys I’ve seen in MG/YA.