our lady of the upside down (mambo_chocobo) wrote,
our lady of the upside down
mambo_chocobo

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Just curious...

Has anyone else noticed a growing trend in YA books that feature female lead characters where, in the summary, it tends to go something like this:

"Main Girl Character has always been a little different from others, but hides it well, until Main Boy Character shows up. MBC is gorgeous, mysterious and dark, and seems to know far more about MGC than she knows about herself. Can they figure out what's going on in their little town before something horrible happens?"

(Okay, so that was really crappy writing, but you get the point. I apologize.)

I'm not quite sure why this bugs me so much, but I'll try to pin it down as best I can.

I think it irks me because so many YA books with female leads tend to include an "irresistible, gorgeous, mysterious, dark" main guy lead who will help the lead girl figure out her powers, strengthen them, and help her save the day, all while falling in love, of course. And there's nothing wrong with that, exactly; God knows I love a well written romance, within reason.

My problem with it, I think, is that there are hardly any books where a lead girl figures things out on her own. Or where a lead girl finds help with another girl; it doesn't have to be romantic, but a best friend/sister type relationship, you know? It's always about a guy. I'm not trying to say there's anything wrong with that, if it's your cup of tea; more power to you. But for me, it's getting a bit tiring to read book summary after book summary that basically follows the formula I wrote above.

Maybe I'm just a bitter old hag, but I'd rather read summaries that tell me a book has a strong female lead who can figure things out on her own, whose life isn't thrown into a whirlwind by a boy being the catalyst. I didn't realize how many book summaries tend to include the boy leads until I started reading Tamora Pierce's books, and I realized very few of her summaries even mention a romantic subplot, never mind a dark and mysterious boy who helps lead the plot along. It's all about girls finding their own way, succeeding by their own strength, and being determined to become what they want to be without relying too much on others. The same can be said for Frewin Jones' "Warrior Princess" series; the summaries focus solely on Branwen and her journey, and not a mention is made of any romantic subplot or love interest.

I think that is the kind of thing I want to see more in YA books. I want to see girls finding out more about their powers on their own, without their catalyst for such a thing being a new guy in their life who knows about her powers or some such. I want to see girls who aren't partially defined by the guys in their life, because that's what it boils down to for me in the end, with those types of summaries: It wouldn't be interesting or bestselling to see a girl figuring things out on her own. She needs a dark, mysterious guy to make the story interesting.

Am I just being a hag about this? Or are there others who somewhat or fully agree with me on this?

ETA: I should say I'm excluding certain books where the romance rightfully plays a big part of the story, like The Hunger Games. The romance there is used as a survival tactic, and for good reason, because it's smart. Just thought I'd add this.
Tags: book discussion, hurr durr, merle's a hag
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