Are there too many heroines in youth literature?


Ok, before you all start hating me and say I’m some kind of misogynist, let me tell you that I do not have a problem with women being main antagonists and there are some great heroines out there, namely Vin from the Mistborn trilogy, Kahlan Amnell from the Sword of truth or even Meggie from Inkheart. No, the problem isn’t the fact that there’s a lot of books with heroines, it’s that there may be too much. It’s great that women have more presence and that girls can have good characters to which they can relate, but my concern is that it seems that since the Twilight phenomena happened, boys have come to be neglected.

Why am I saying this? Well, working in a library has made me aware of a lot of different things in literature. One thing that was pointed out to me by different parents who had trouble finding good books for their little boy or teenager with a thirst for great adventure, but we’re still too young to endure the big fantasy books, was that they could not find a story with a character they would relate to. I started doing my little research and I too noticed this lack of great male characters in youth literature. You will probably talk to me about series like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson and even the Ranger’s apprentice, and I will agree with you, but the fact still remains that outside of those series, it is starting to be increasingly difficult to find something for them, especially in the 6-9 years old section. You will find a plethora of books and series for girls and by that, I mean more than three quarters of the section is filled with them, including the 9-12 and young adults sections.

Many people will say that girls read more than boys, and though that might be true, I think it is due to the simple fact that there is less series for them than there used to be. I remember starting reading enormously when I was in high school. In those days Harry Potter was still fresh with only 3 books out and, with its success, came a big load of great imaginative fantasy series, namely series like Pendragon, The Edge’s Chronicles and many others that I’m forgetting. The fun thing about those series is that they have a great equilibrium in its characterization. In every single one, you could find characters that any kid could associate with. Nowadays it’s a bit different, especially since the success of Twilight. Not only was there a big flow of vampire and werewolf books, but an enormous increase in series with girls as main characters. The problem was not there, but mostly in the fact that creativity was neglected and that a noticeable change happened in term of characterization. It was becoming harder and harder to find characters with which young people could associate themselves. All the heroines where cute, and often vapid and girls and all the boys became sexy and mysterious. Stories became a bit lazy and you had a lot of trouble finding a writer who was fearless in where he was going with his series.

Then, Hunger Games happened: something new and exciting, new characters, new settings too, finally something else than vampires. It brought an increasing demand and offer in dystopian literature, but again, a wave of heroines, because let’s face it, Katniss Everdeen is a badass. But here again, boys have trouble finding something truly satisfying. There’s some great male characters in there, but you feel like they are only there as an accessory for the story of Katniss and to feed this ever present love triangle we have to face in almost every series out there. I still haven’t found a series where there is a simple love story which is not the whole purpose of the book. The love story has become kind of a necessary thing and often the most important side of the storyline. Here are boys, thirsting for adventure and action and all they can find is complicated love stories in which the boy’s only motivation is getting the girl to love him at all cost.

And naturally, the series that are mostly for boys have become harder to find in libraries, even the ones that we’re incredibly popular a few years ago, and still are, and that you could find in every store. I’d like to hear what you people think. Am I the only one who thinks like this?


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