This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a discussion post of all things bookish.
This may be a very jumbled, ranty and confusing post. I just have a lot of feelings and I hope anybody reading this can at least understand what I’m trying to say haha (:
So I’ve recently read books that have heroines which seem to stand out from the norm in YA. One of them was Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins, with Harper (the main character) who truly personifies the Steel Magnolia. Her narration was so enjoyable to me and very refreshing. Harper is girly to the extreme and I just found her to be a barrel full of fun. The other book I read recently where the main character stood out to me was in The Winner’s Curse. Krestel was the main character in that one, and I loved her. I found her introspective observations to be quite telling of her personality and loved her intelligence when it came to strategy. It takes Krestel awhile to act, her concern for herself and others was clear.
These characters are what inspired this post today. More specifically, it was certain people’s reactions to them. While generally pursuing some reviews surrounding these books and their main characters, I found words like: weak, vain, shallow, boring, indecisive, bossy, vapid.
I get that people can differing opinions from my own. But something itched the back of my brain when I read those reviews. I soon found that the underlying point with those reviews was that these characters weren’t found to be strong/badass/whatever.
I believe that this love affair for “strong” characters is quite rampant over YA, and it’s getting to quite a high point. Authors and publishers want to please readers and are therefore attempting to create more strong characters. I’m not going to deny that it can work. Sometimes though, I’m reading books in which the main characters are so strong it’s too the point of ridiculousness. They’re rash, arrogant, prone to make stupid decisions and basically badass to the point of invincibility in any circumstance. These once relatable and strong heroines are now becoming caricatures of themselves and are popping up all over the place.
The thing is though, characters don’t have to be strong in order to be good characters. They don’t have to be all badass and snarky. They don’t have to be some fierce warrior. I feel like these strong characters are great, some of my favorite characters in books are painted to be that way. It’s great to have characters that you can really look up to and admire.
Again this doesn’t mean all characters need to be this way though. It also doesn’t mean that those characters who don’t fit into the very subjective mould of strong/badass/whatever are any less amazing. In fact I find those characters with vulnerabilities the ones I can connect with the most and find extremely relatable.
I feel like the fact that “strong” characters are so much favored is why there’s been so other types of heroines in YA. I personally would like to see more balance. One singular type of thing only is never good, it makes for repetition. I want to to see a good range and diversity of characters with different backgrounds, traits, personalities, likes, dislikes and really anything. I just want some variety.
Most of all I’d like to see people be a little more open minded about characters, not just considering “strong” to equate to good.
What do you think of the representation of different types of characters in YA? Do you think it’s fair?
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