Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Heart YA Carnival #6: Female Protagonists, Tough or Over Easy?

Suze Reese
The I Heart YA Carnival is hosted by Suze Reese, author of the ExtraNormal series. Each Tuesday, a blog prompt will be posted about a topic related to the YA genre. Click the button to learn how to join in!

This week's prompt is: "Okay, those are some of my favorite female protagonists. I like them smart, spunky and brave; sprinkled with a dash of humility. What about you? How do you take your female protagonists?"

Ooo, good question. After thinking about this for quite sometime, I've narrowed my preferences down to this: I like my female protagonists to be independent, relatable, and good team players. Allow me to elaborate...

I prefer independent heroines. I don't like reading about girls who are so helpless and whiny and needy that they would never survive a day on their own. If a girl has to have someone else (especially a guy) do everything for her, I lose interest in her very quickly.

That being said, I also don't like reading about girls who are too tough and dominant. If all she does is swing weapons around, or if she is the best at every single thing she does, she comes across to me as fake and unrealistic (even if it's fiction). I can't relate to her if she never has to really work for anything.

The "good team player" bit might sound cheesy, but I mean it in regards to the way she interacts with her friends or her love interest. I like when she's as loyal to her friends as they are to her, rather than treating them like they're in a supporting role. I'm fine with a guy helping her out of situations, but I like when she can turn around and save his skin too.

Examples? Why, certainly...

I really liked Katniss in The Hunger Games series. She was fiercely independent - she had to deal with losing both her parents (one physically, one emotionally) and take on the responsibility of providing for her family on her own. Her relationship with Gale was my idea of perfect teamwork - she was no damsel in distress with him doing everything for her; they both had to do things for each other. Same in the actual Hunger Games: she took care of herself, but she still had to rely on help from other tributes at times. She was loyal to her friends and always did what she thought was right.

In a similar sort of way, I liked Meg in A Wrinkle in Time. She's not your "typical" heroine - she isn't a beautiful princess or the popular girl in school. She has flaws which she has to work to overcome. She feels a great responsibility to her family, first in finding her father and then in rescuing her younger brother. She doesn't save him with great fighting skills or exceptional brilliance; she saves him in a very humble and relatable way. And of course there is Calvin, her unlikely teammate.

I also liked Aurelia in Aurelia. I thought at first she might be a little too princessy for me, with a little too much "woe is me, whatever shall I do," but she turned out to be pretty awesome. When there is a threat on her life, she is essentially left to her own devices by her father and stepmother, but her friend Robert stays by her side. Robert is a strong character, but Aurelia holds her own; she proves perfectly capable of saving herself.


  1. I like Katniss (in the first book) and Meg too. It's been SO long since I read a Wrinkle in Time! I might have to revisit some old loves!

    Good post! Thanks to this bloghop I'm going to have a lot more book recommendations!

    1. I'm adding so many books to my list too! I love seeing what everyone likes and dislikes.