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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.
SRB Continues To Rock My World
Sarah Rees Brennan, I love everything you choose to be.
In addition to all her amazing novels, her short stories, and awesome collaborations, she is now publishing a really great serial story that is pretty fabulous so far. It is funny and smart and full of special treats for people who are familiar with literary tropes and conventions of fantasy literature.
“Are you telling me that I have magical powers?” Elliot had asked, extremely excited for a moment, and then he added: “… because I can’t walk through walls? That doesn’t seem right.”
The woman had told him she was prepared for questions, but she did not seem prepared for that one. She blinked and told him to come away with her to a magical land.
Normally, Elliot would have refused, but there was the wall, and the undeniable fact that other people could not see or touch it, and this was like something out of a book. Elliot did not think he would be able to live with the curiosity if he did not go.
“Okay,” Elliot had said finally, brandishing his phone in the woman’s face. “But I have the number of the police and I will have my finger on the call button at all times, in case you are a child predator.”
It was all so unfair. Elliot had not expected a magical land to be all fields—some of the fields had cows in them, and he was pretty sure they weren’t magic cows–and other kids.
Elliot especially did not like the other kids aspect of the matter. Elliot was fine with small groups like a book club, or for a group project, but when the group was big enough to be a class, that was when trouble happened. Elliot had ‘does not interact well with peers’ on all his report cards.
If the teachers had been more precise, what they would have said was ‘does not shut up well around stupid people,’ but that was teachers for you. And there were always kids who were confounded to be crossed, as if they had expected that life would go their way forever.
Elliot is a snarky little shit, and I adore him. He is immediately smitten with a beautiful elf maiden, Serene, who is a stoic and badass warrior of the Chaos Clan, and is able to make some really great points about gender roles because her society has what we the readers would consider quite old fashioned views on the subject— except that males are considered “the weaker sex.” Elliot also immediately dislikes Luke Sunborn, the golden boy of a respected family who would be the main character if this was being written by anyone but SRB.
True to form, I am shipping the OT3.