Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WHY ARE THE FEMALE LEADS OF YA SERIES SO UNLIKEABLE?

[PLEASE BE AWARE THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK SERIES MENTIONED]


This particular topic has been buzzing around in my head for more than a year now and I thought it was time that I had a try at answering. Now of course I have to quantify that statement certainly not all female leads are unlikeable and I can mention a few that are immensely likeable and positive role models. Zoey Redbird of the House of Night Series and Claire Danvers of Morganville Vampires are two examples of female leads that I totally respect and can’t get enough of. Those seem to be the exceptions to the rule though unfortunately and let me show you some examples of my issues with female leads.




Rose Hathaway of the New York Best Seller list Vampire Academy, now don’t get me wrong the series itself is great and compelling at the moment in fact I’m just finishing off Last Sacrifice and already intrigued as to the next series set in the VA World. We are discussing characters though and not books or series so it is not important whether they are outstanding reads more how you feel about the character themselves.
My problems with Rose are many and varied in terms of the choices she makes throughout the series. In her role as a Guardian she is supposedly the epitome of self sacrifice and restraint, but anyone reading of her adventures knows that is not the case. Certainly Rose is a good person and a hero but she seems to have no understanding of the effect that her actions have on the people around her. The last discussion between her and Adrian in Last Sacrifice highlights this showing that she has been completely lost in her happy ending with Dimitri and has not spared a thought for Sydney, Jill or even really considered how much Adrian loved or indeed needed her.

One aspect I do respect of Rose’s is her courage, the way she without any second thoughts takes Lissa on the run to protect her is laudable and quite a sacrifice. However when they are captured and returned to the school we see her slipping into old habits drinking to excess and getting in trouble almost constantly.
Rose Hathaway is flawed but she is still a hero and by no means the worst example of a female lead in a YA, she doesn’t stand out as an ideal role model to teenage girls though that is from my own perspective as a nearly 30 year old man.


 
Ever Bloom is the lead character of the New York Best selling series The Immortals. After losing her family in a tragic accident that nearly costs her own life Ever is forced to deal with psychic powers she can’t control and having to leave everything she knew for a new life in California. Ever barely exists at her new school with 2 friends and nights spent talking to the ghost of her sister. 

Things all change when Damon Auguste comes into her life taking her breath away and driving her mad in equal measures does he want to be with her or is he just some kind of playboy, or worse yet is he hiding an even darker secret? I think some would compare The Immortals with The Twilight Series and there is a comparison to be made in that they both have large romance at their heart to a lesser or greater degree.

Ever is a very troubled girl which is to be expected really dealing with the grief of losing her family and struggling to adapt to her new powers. You would think that finding a partner like Damon who explains her situation and loves her absolutely might brighten Ever’s outlook on life you couldn’t be more wrong. Ever seems to have absolutely no self confidence whatsoever despite Damon possibly being the most patient and understanding boyfriend in the world.

As The Immortals Series continues Ever lies to Damon and her friends and consistently does the exact opposite of what he asks her, she ignores his counsel despite the fact that he has over a century of experience with their powers and the problems they can bring. It is interesting that Ever at the same time manages to believe that she is not worthy of the love of another but somehow a better judge of any given situation and the ONLY person capable of getting the job done, her sense of ego must be something to behold. She has hurt Damon so many times it defies all explanation that he hasn’t run away never to return but I guess he really does love her, if only she could get that through her thick skull.


Katniss Everdeen is the main character in the popular trilogy The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins a gritty story set in a fascist North American future. Katniss is a young poacher in the twelfth district of Panem and volunteers to enter the annual Hunger Games in the place of her younger sister. The Hunger Games is a fight to the death featuring two dozen of the children of the districts televised for the whole country to watch.
Katniss is an interesting character with some serious issues. These are certainly not all her fault being the pawn of several factions vying for control of Panem each happy to use and abuse her as they deem necessary. The problem is with some of the decisions or distinct lack of that Katniss makes especially when dealing with Gayle and Peeta. While Katniss certainly has noble intent particularly in the first two books, one thing she doesn’t grasp is the power she has to affect others.

Reading through the Hunger Games you lose count of how many times you seriously question the things Katniss decides to do even allowing for the amount of things she is put through during her adventures. At times it left me angry wanting to scream at a literary character to get a clue and not be so dumb which I know some might argue is a good thing. When I consider it though I think more that perhaps characters who react in ways that are somewhat expected make for more believable reads. And if I ask myself the main question of this post which is do I think Ms. Everdeen is a good role model for young women then I think the answer is a resounding no.



So there are those of you who may feel that this is just the rantings of a good looking man but it is not just me. I got in contact with Lyndsey at Heaven, Hell and Purgatory Book Reviews and she very kindly supplied me with her thoughts on the subject of annoying female leads.

Zoey Redbird - House of Night series
Zoey can be quite a strong female MC at times but then there are others where she is incredibly weak. Over the course of the series so far, with Burned being the only exception, Zoey has had quite a big history with the boys. The thing that annoys me the most about her is that even though she has had all of these boyfriends/ flings, she is still really immature in regards to this. It would be one thing if she went from one boyfriend to the next because they broke up for legitimate reasons but she doesn’t. Zoey goes from boy to boy, regardless of if she has a boyfriend already. On numerous occasions, she has cheated and lied in order to get what she wants and I just don’t think that this sets a very good example for readers of any kind. 

Eve and Jess - Dark Touch Novels
In this first book of this series, Shadows, I nearly had to put the book down because I hated these characters so much. 
Eve and Jess were everything that I hated about female characters. Both were spoiled and full of themselves and knew that having money could get them whatever they wanted. As soon as I realised what kind of girls they were, there was an instant dislike and I’m afraid that I really didn’t warm up to them. They just seemed so shallow for the most part that I couldn’t find much about them that I did like. Eve has her moments of being stronger than I had expected but it doesn’t last very long and only in a couple of different parts. Jess wasn’t so bad though and was a good best friend for Eve but it was a shame that she didn’t have a bigger part in the story. 

Linz x

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