Monday, 28 July 2008

Strong Female Characters

I was reading Newsweek this weekend and in an article about Anne of Green Gables I read this:

That "Anne" has survived so long—and, with 50 million copies sold, so strong—is a small miracle considering the state of young-adult literature. It's rare to find a best seller with a strong heroine anymore, in large part because, although girls will read books about boys, boys won't go near a girl's book, no matter how cool she is. Even in Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series, the strong, grounded Bella is willing to chuck it all for the love of her vampire boyfriend. "The literary smart girl is still showing up in literature, but she's often the sidekick," says Trinna Frever, an "Anne of Green Gables" scholar.

Now I am new to the world of YA fiction but I can already think of lots of smart, strong girls in fiction.

Lyra in His Dark Materials - she saves the worlds

Frankie in The Disreputable History - infiltrates and takes over a secret boys society

Miranda in Life as we knew it - survives a near apocalypse and saves her family

Suze in The Mediator books - kicks ass, a lot!

Amy in Secret Society Girl - says what she thinks and is not intimidated by a centuries old all male society or anyone (as far as I can tell. so far)

So what do you think does Newsweek know what it's talking about? Can you name more strong female characters in Young Adult fiction?


  1. Lyra definately. But the first I'd think of would be Sabriel by Garth Nix. When I worked at a bookstore I used to recommend it to young girls to read..

  2. One of the reasons I've avoided Twilight is that I've read that Bella is passive and willing to do anything to get her man.

    Those kinds of messages don't sit too well with me. I do hope you're right and Newsweek is being selective in their assessment of modern female characters in YA.

  3. I'd say there are still plenty of girls willing to give up anything for a boy in YA, but you also can't go five books without reading about a strong female.

    Media always seems to have trouble keeping up-to-date with genre fiction . . .

  4. I totally agree. This has been a big topic of discussion on my blog today too. I *love* Anne of Green Gables, but I can't believe that writer thinks there are no strong women on the children's bestseller lists these days. So ignorant and misinformed.

  5. Michelle - Oh yes Sabriel I definitely agree with that.

    Bunnygirl - Oh I love Twilight I'm afraid but I think Bella can be read two ways. For me the whole point is that Bella has to change because it is impossible for Edward to become human and changing is quite a hard choice, that's basically why Jacob's in the books he's the life she's giving up.

    Liviania - yup I think more research was needed by Newsweek.

    Diana P - I'll pop over and check out your blog.

  6. I'm with you there--it's not that there aren't YA books with strong heroines, it's just that the adult media ignores them. Clary in City of Bones, Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle, Kaye in Tithe, and the heroes of most of the historical and fantasy novels out there are some others.

  7. I love Frankie in The Disreputable History! Oh, and Jacky Faber of the Bloody Jack series, too!

  8. Pretty much all of Tamora Pierce's books present strong female characters. She develops females that fall in love but don't sacrifice their own dreams and desires to be with a man. I work in a bookstore and I recommend her books for all young girls looking for something new to read.


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