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A Reader of Fictions: Top Ten Wednesday: Top Ten Most Obnoxious YA "Heroines"

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Top Ten Wednesday: Top Ten Most Obnoxious YA "Heroines"

Before we can get to the fun part, a brief note: I have decided to make Top Ten Wednesday only a once per month feature, since writing them actually does take quite a bit of time. Look for those the first Wednesday of the month!

Have you ever read a teen novel and wanted nothing more than to sit the main character down and lecture her on something? Do you ever, after reading about this girl's adventures, kind of hate that you're a woman (assuming you're a woman reader of this blog...if not, well, skip this one) because that is something you have in common with this mutton-headed dolt? Have you ever wanted to throw the book at the wall really hard hoping that will knock some sense into the idiotic main character?

Okay, well, I haven't done the last one (at least not intentionally), because books are too pretty to throw, but I have wanted to. These are the stereotypical heroines of young adult literature. Rather unfortunately, these are generally the heroines of the most popular teen fiction. Why don't folks talk about the badass chicks?

For my selections, I tried to get a sampling of girls with various faults as heroines, rather than just ones derived from number one.

10. Grace from Wolves of Mercy Falls / Deirdre from A Gathering of Faerie

Maggie Stiefvater's heroines, thus far, have not been girls I much like. Well, the ones in book one, anyway. In both of these series, she switches perspectives in book two. The first girl is always really put together, smart and talented. She also comes off as rather icy and distant. Until the day that she meets the perfect guy and falls in instant, no-baking-required love. This is made worse by the fact that I think Deirdre chose the wrong guy. Their distance makes for a tricky heroine to like, even though I can be emotionally distant myself. For another heroine like this, check out Trella from Inside Out.

9. Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries

Overall, I really like Meg Cabot. I even put her on my list of favorite contemporary authors. However, I do not like everything she has written, particularly this, her most famous of series. Oh, I thought they were okay for the first book are two, although not as good as the movie, which has some problems of its own. After the first couple though, I became seriously annoyed with the series and Mia, eventually giving up, somewhere around book ten. Mia gets older, but she doesn't mature at all. She is a heroine who does not learn anything from her mistakes in the past, so she just keeps doing the same stupid things and then complaining when, shock, it doesn't work out this time either. Heroines need to grow and adapt through their experiences.

8. Frannie from Personal Demons

I reviewed this book a few months back, so I will spare you a restatement of that. If you haven't read it or want a refresher, follow this link. This book represents a combination of the worst of YA literature and stands in for others of its kind. Writers like Desrochers read the most popular, which is not necessarily the best, YA books and then extrapolate that into their own book or series. This heroine has pretty much every feature of all of the others, especially of the number one worst heroine.

7. Miranda from Life as We Knew It

The world is ending because the moon was knocked out of alignment by a comment, which in turn messed with the tides, which messed with all of the environment. Food starts running out, so, of course, do electricity and gasoline. I have every sympathy with people trying to survive. What I do not sympathize with is the fact that even as shit's really getting real, Miranda's focus is still on the boy who didn't ask her to prom and how her mom likes her brother better. Waaa, cry moar. I mean, Miranda has lots of things to be upset about, but instead she whines about the things that matter the least. A whiny, selfish heroine is not a good heroine.

6. Blair, Serena, Jenny, etc. from Gossip Girl

Before I commence this rant, I must confess that the television show Gossip Girl is one of my favorite current shows, a definite guilty pleasure. Because of this, I tried once again (there was a failed attempt in high school) to read this series. I made it through a few of the novels before I could not take the shallow, disgusting characters anymore. There is absolutely no one likable. For example, in the first book, they all smoke constantly (a disgusting habit that was edited out of the show). Blaire is bulimic. Jenny has a size 2 waist and a D bust. I mean, come on. These girls are not role models; they're not even people I want to have to read about. It's depressing how much they waste their lives.

5. Clary Fray from Mortal Instruments / Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices / Meghan Chase from The Iron Fey

Perhaps worse than a powerless heroine is a powerful heroine who cannot use her power. These girls are all extremely strong, but still often have to be saved, or told what they need to do to save everyone by an external source. There will be an incredibly obvious way to save themselves, but they do not do it. This is just so incredibly frustrating. Plus, these girls only become really strong, independent fighters when the men are gone. If the guy is there, they will probably require assistance.

4. Bianca from Evernight / Ever from The Immortals / Haven Moore from The Eternal Ones

Another trend in YA fiction is immediate, everlasting true love. Heroines like Bianca fall in love the second they see their hero. From that point on, they proceed to think about him obsessively. They have almost no thoughts that do not revolve around this guy for the rest of the book or series. Believe me, this will feel interminable. They generally fail to see any problems in their boyfriend; he is perfection personified, so, of course, they never fight. This is not realistic at all. What real girl has a relationship like this? Even in high school and college, before really entering the real world, this kind of relationship is impossible. Honestly, rather than listing YA novels that feature true love at first sight, it would be simpler to list those that don't.

3. Jay Jin from 100% Perfect Girl / Hatsumi Narita from Hot Gimmick

What these two manga series have in common is a romance between the heroine and her abuser. While I have not actually read more than one volume of the first series, I read enough to know that the male "hero" raped, or so was implied, the heroine. And yet, I know, because of my experience with manga tropes, that she will spend the next x volumes being obsessively in love wit this guy. Hot Gimmick, so far as I recall, may not have been rape per se, but is about a girl who loves a guy who continually tears her down verbally and physically. This is a more common plot line in manga than in American novels. Unfortunately, it may be coming, as I have heard that this is essentially what happens in Hush, Hush. Rape is an important issue, as is abuse, but I do not want to see it romanticized.

2. Zoey Redbird from The House of Night

I am fairly certain Zoey is one of my least favorite characters of all time. Why? Because she is a whiny bitch, who thinks only about herself AND doesn't even realize it. At one point, she is dating something like three guys, has an affair with a teacher at the school, and doesn't tell her best friends about any of her drama. When everything comes out, the boys dump her and her friends are hella pissed, because, if you're gonna be a slut, you ought at least to confide in your besties. Seriously? Not only that, but Zoey is actually surprised and indignant that her friends and boyfriends are pissed off at her. SERIOUSLY??? In a horror movie, she would die first; now, wouldn't that be nice.

1. Bella Swan from Twilight

While there are heroines that I think are worse (sadly), Bella has to be number one because of the impact this series had on culture. I shudder to think how many tweens and teens must think of Bella as some sort of role model. I mean, what are they learning here?
  1. Klutziness is endearing; if you fall down a lot, boys will carry you and think you're precious.
  2. It is entirely normal for your boyfriend to watch you sleep, even before he has become your boyfriend.
  3. If he acts like he hates you, don't worry, because he's secretly super in love with you, like zomg.
  4. Codependency is HOT!
  5. If your boyfriend dumps you, do not get over it; the proper reaction to a breakup is months of intense moping, followed by a series of suicide attempts. I mean, it's not true love if you can live without him.
  6. Leading on a male friend who is totally in love with you is okay, because you should always have a backup, in case your boyfriend does not react to your suicide attempts.
  7. You should definitely get married as soon as you're of age. Why wait?
  8. And then, you should probably pop out a child. Immediately. This is how women find fulfillment.
  9. Also, it's totally okay to let your daughter hook up with your backup guy. That's not weird at all.
So yeah, the Twilight books may be addictive, but no one should consider Bella a heroine to emulate. The girl is absolutely crazy. She does eventually get powers, so that she can defend herself, but she's so codependent that it hardly matters. Plus, Breaking Dawn is weird. Even the cover worries me, as it may be a reference to Eve's/woman's guilt. Ugh.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Heather said...

I kind of like Mia, but I've only read the first book in the series (the movie is a guilty pleasure of mine, too, so that might explain it).

I've read about half the books on this list, and I completely agree with your choices. Even though I, too, am a total klutz, Bella makes me want to punch babies. Don't even get me started on Breaking Dawn (which should be a lol-tastic movie!)

June 2, 2011 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I definitely agree about Bella! And your list of things to be learned made me laugh.

And I kind of agree about Mia. I definitely read the first 5 books when they came out and then read the rest of the series like...5 years later, so I don't remember all of everything. But I think Mia is the weakest of the Meg Cabot teen heroines. I like her heroines that kick more ass. And I think Mia always picks the wrong guy!

June 2, 2011 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Nori said...

Yes!

For Bella, you forgot to say, 10) Your unborn child (that could possibly be an evil monster) is way more important that you are; if you must, by all means, die while it tears you apart. It can eat you from the inside before it is born. But you are not as important, so die if you have to.

I agree with you. I did kind of like the girl from Shiver, but she's definitely not my favorite. And, House of Night books really just need to end. Really.

June 5, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Katelyn said...

Great list of reasons Bella is obnoxious and her behavior is disturbing.

June 26, 2011 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Daniela said...

yeah, I found bella from twilight incredibly foolish. Who would someone hurt themselves to 'hear' the guy that tore their heart in half?

March 21, 2012 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Alaina said...

Haha I like Zoey Redbird from House of Night, but I would have to agree that she can be quite the handful to deal with.

March 27, 2012 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Owl In A Cloak said...

Never seen a truer list. I really dislike Zoey. I couldn't carry on with the series after Chosen and curse myself every single day why I got the series home in the first place (I have 1 through 4). I was literally shouting after reading Chosen. I mean, she had three boyfriends in the first book and none in the end. Plus, the writing is very bad.

I agree with the whole list.

March 29, 2012 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Worst is the fact that Zoey does all of these awful things, like dating all of the guys and losing them (all without telling her friends), and then blames everyone else when her life falls apart. It's like 'no, hon, that's all on you.'

March 29, 2012 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Kali Skittles said...

Gosh! With Bella, all of those #s drove me nuts when I read/watched. #3 on Bella's list is ALWAYS what kills it for me in YA books. Always always always. I will NOT read a book anytime soon if the girl is in loveeeeeeeeee with the asshole who is only nice to her every 50 pages, and a complete ass the other 295.

I actually like Grace and Sam from Shiver though. I thought since she'd seen him her whole life in wolf form and dreamed about him (right..?) that it was okay. She'd felt his presence much of her life...idk! It didn't bother me, but looking back I could see why it would bother. I actually can't remember if she was obnoxious otherwise, because I haaaaated books 2 and 3 so I forgot them! :D

April 5, 2012 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I actually liked Linger better than Shiver, because I thought Cole and Isobel were more interesting than Grace and Sam, but I still gave up on Forever.

April 6, 2012 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Christina (Christinareadsya) said...

You are so spot on! I love your top ten posts - I think I've now read like four of them? - and your post on insta-love. I enjoyed Ballad more than Lament because of the #1, and God. Let's just say that there are at least four "heroines" you've listed who I also do not feel so kindly toward.

November 28, 2012 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awesome! I'm glad you like them!

There are so many I could add now, but I'm sure it will be a TTT post someday, and I can expand my list. :)

November 28, 2012 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger juLie tearjerky said...

I totally agree about Bella Swan and Clary freaking Fray. I think they're both pathetic.

January 1, 2013 at 1:52 PM  

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