BASICALLY i’m really angry because it seems that nowadays a lot more young adult books are geared toward girls rather than guys which is fine but i’m a guy and while guys *can* read about girls falling in love with the perfect guy while trying to save the world… it’s not really that relatable. ok also sorry if i sound sexist. anyway do you have any book recommendations more geared toward guys?
This was not addressed to me, but it came up in the Shadow and Bone tag so I’m going to respond to it briefly.
1. Would you have skipped reading Harry Potter if it had been told from Hermione’s POV (or assigned POV)? Would you have skipped reading Percy Jackson if it had been more explicitly Annabeth’s journey? Then you would have missed out on two incredible, game-changing series.
2. There is no shortage of fiction (literary, genre, children’s) that focuses on male protagonists. I think it’s possible that the popularity of YA speaks to the hunger for more female protagonists. I don’t see why that should incite anger.
3. Also, what YA are you reading? Sure, there are stories that follow the formula you describe, but it’s also pretty reductive. I think if you do a little looking, you’ll find a category brimming with fantastic stories, new worlds, action, and adventure. Yes, there’s often a romantic element, but most of the YA I see coming out now doesn’t focus on that as the ultimate goal of the story. It’s more about the hero or heroine’s journey and there isn’t always a happily ever after in the offing.
Also, I’d point out that there are frequently romantic elements in stories that focus on male characters or multiple POV and this is true across all genres. Tom Clancy, George R.R. Martin, James Patterson, John Grisham, Stephen King—the heavy hitters don’t shy away from romantic entanglements. Maybe we cut them more slack because they’re presented through the male lens?
If you’re looking for male protags in YA, literally the first that come to mind are Finnikin of the Rock and its sequel Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta (high fantasy), The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith (horror/fantasy), Taken by Erin Bowman (dystopian), and Looking for Alaska by John Green (contemporary). I don’t know if these are “geared toward guys.” They all have different focuses for their narratives and different levels of romance. In the end, I think it depends on the guy.
Finally, regarding sexism: Saying that you don’t like romance in your stories is different than saying that you can’t relate to female characters. I’m not sure which is true for you because they kind of got conflated in one statement “finding the perfect guy and saving the world.” If you didn’t like Bella’s story because it focuses largely on her relationship with Edward and that’s not your thing, I get it. But if you can’t relate to Buffy or Katniss or Jane Eyre or Jo March—any girl with a job to do who might fall in love or lust or whatever along the way—that makes me kind of sad.
There’s room for all kind of heroes and heroines and some of our greatest stories happen to be love stories too. Love, friendship, sexual attraction— all essential parts of life. It’s only when girls or women become the audience that we start to turn our noses up at something that we all care about.
Leigh Bardugo, what a lady.
Sadly, there are a lot of people who would have skipped Harry Potter if Hermione was the protagonist. There are amazing books out there which are not becoming cultural phenomena because of sexism. The books which got there despite it are to be much applauded—and get a lot more sneering than Harry Potter and Percy.
This reminds me of the post that was going around about YA (FOR KIDS?! ABOUT GirLS? TEENagE GIrls?!)… that was reblogged by feminist blogs, that made me see absolute red.
A girl saving the world shouldn’t be sneered at. A girl having a romance shouldn’t be sneered at, either.
And of course, as Leigh points out, MOST BOOKS HAVE ROMANCE IN THEM. Where are the people moaning ‘Oh come on Stephen King, less love, more beetles that cause the apocalypse!’
Whereas a lady writer can write SUE STABBATIA VS THE BEETLES OF THE APOCALYPSE.
PUBLISHERS: Time for a pink cover.
READERS: Ah, another silly girl book about love.
AUTHOR: Yeah, the love of a woman for a machete…
There is a study showing that in a classroom full of girls and guys, if the girls are talking the same amount as the guys, it’s perceived as the girls taking over the discussion.
Men tend to talk more than women.
And yet there’s a myth that women are way, way more talky. Because women are meant to be *silent*, so people don’t like it—people criticise it and sneer at it—when women talk.
How much worse, if women are being the stars and saving the world? The fact they’re doing it at all in some books is seen as them doing it WAY TOO MUCH, the women are dominating the conversation! Will nobody think of the poor guys?
Feeling hard done by in this circumstance is natural, because we’re raised in a messed up world. But readers, writers, people of the world, think about if you really want to say that girls can’t save the world, can’t be the heroes, or that love is stupid.
Think of what people are losing up there in that giant No Girls Welcome clubhouse.
Don’t be angry that women are not silent.