I am noticing a DISTURBING trend in Young Adult fiction lately and I really don’t like it one bit. It’s because of all you wonderful book bloggers out there that I’m even into Young Adult fiction like I am now. Don’t get me wrong, Adult fiction still totally rocks my world, and it’s still probably what I read most. But I’d be lying if I said the Young Adult world wasn’t drawing me in more and more. It’s almost nostalgic in a 21st century kinda way and makes me remember my childhood. But there is one theme I keep encountering that bothers the hell out of me, and that is the Willful Damsel. I offer up Clary from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, and Meghan Chase from The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa as examples.
The Willful Damsel: The lead teenage girl in a story who is more than content with being pathetic and letting the lead male or males save her ass over and over again though she has power beyond measure.
I get it. It’s nice and fun to read about the hero who saves his girl from imminent danger. But when that girl is ALWAYS in danger, and many times from her own stupid actions, this becomes tiresome for me. Especially when it has been expressly said that the girl in question has a power and a might all her own. The fact that these girls are so ambivalent about learning more about their powers and how to harness and use them is beyond me.
Case in point Meghan Chase. A part of me feels really bad for her. Her brother has been taken and she has just found out that she is born of a world that she had no knowledge of at all. The father she remembers has disappeared and she finds that her true father is a powerful faery King. That is a lot to swallow in a day. I even admire her for wanting to go and save her brother though she knows nothing about the world she’s about to fall into. But my patience quickly thinned after she had been told a number of times of her power and she had no curiosity or desire to learn how to use it. And when Grimalkin urges her to try and tap in, she gives a half-assed attempt and then gives up. WHAT!!!! I’m sorry but if someone told me I had some supernatural powers, I’d be doing every exercise, every training, every puzzle or mind game I could to learn how to use it and keep my ass out of trouble. Or at least have a good enough handle on how to get out of trouble when it arrived. But this girl, oh no! It’s Puck and Ash to the rescue, constantly having them put themselves in danger for her own personal crusade. And what disturbs me the MOST is that miraculously, at the end, she just knows how to use her power in a very pivotal moment. Are you kidding me people? So first she has no interest in her power, gives a half-hearted try, and now all of a sudden she knows how to use it? CLACKERS!!! (as my Dad used to say), I’m just not buying what they’re selling.
Another example is Clary of the Mortal Instruments series. Le Sigh. I cannot for the life of me understand how this child went for three books without learning how to defend herself. HELLO! Your in an institute where they train Shadowhunters! You’re a Shadowhunter and your father is a notorious badass! GET SOME TRAINING ALREADY! Sure what the girl can do with a stele is phenomenal, but I was irked that this just came to her. Enough with all the ladi da shit people. Can we have better explanations on how these girls figure out their powers instead of some miraculous knowledge cop-out. And again with Jace saving her ass after she got herself into trouble time and again. I almost hate to see how this series continues because if Clary doesn’t begin training of some sort I don’t think I can deal.
I understand that in today’s young adult world this is a popular theme, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not bothered by it. I love a strong female character and I get that not every female character can be this. But those with the clear potential to be strong women seem to be taking a very lazy approach and relying on the men in their lives too much. How about sometimes they let the men rely on them? But I want them to earn that, I want them to work for it. I don’t want them to have some crazy in-the-moment discovery…that’s lazy and boring. Don’t get me wrong, I was still thoroughly entertained by both the MI trilogy and the first of the IF. All I’m asking is for some protagonists I can love and be proud of. Ladies that will give it all they have to survive and live another day. Can I just get a little effort. . .please?
Filed in: Rant, Young Adult Tags: Book Discussion, Rant