Where have all of the strong girls gone?
So a few years ago everyone was reading Twilight by Stephany Meyer as if it was the best thing ever written. Girls were lugging around huge novels from place to place and squeeling about vampires and werewolves. For the first time since Harry Potter, people were coming back to YA fiction books hungry for a new series to capture their imaginations. But sadly in recent years, our female lead characters have been moody and sort of bitch. Can we please get a storyline where girls can have a good role model who will teach our daughters to believe in themselves and value strong values?
I was one of those women who loved the idea of a romantic vampire novel and I didn’t mind that it was a YA book. I figured that unlike some of the adult supernatural books I had been poking about it, I would have a solid story that wasn’t overly filled with sexual adventures. The plot promised a strong female lead, an mysterious place, and yes vampires that weren’t like the Dracula fiends of yesteryear. But once I started reading the series I had a really hard time actually liking Bella.
Bella Swan is a stupid, bitchy, manic depressant who would have ended up cutting herself to sleep at night if she hadn’t moved to town with a bunch of pansy vampires. Yep, I said it. I read all of the books and in every one of them I wanted to punch Bella right in the face. Come ON! Why can’t Edward read her thoughts? SHE DOESN’T HAVE ANY! This girl lacks any definition of character, she’s bland boring and really should have been a midnight snack. Bella is not a heroine at all. Truthfully, all of the books are terrible. It’s both terribly written and poorly thought out. I have NO idea how this crap ever got published and even fewer ideas of why anyone liked it enough to make it to best seller lists and movies. NO clue.
We do not need books that make women pathetic. At one point, Bella must realize herself what a waste of paper she is and throws herself off a cliff. Sadly, she didn’t die and that wasn’t the end. We do not need female lead characters that promote suicide, cheating behavior even though she’s apparently willing to kill herself for a guy old enough to be her great-grandfather (EEW), and she’s a horrible person.
The Hunger games by Suzanne Collins was a little different. I didn’t mind the writing in the books, even though I felt like the third book could have flowed a little better. The characters were at least engaging and had a little bit more personality. Katniss Everdeen at least had a small back story to give her a reason to be a moody teen. Her love for her sister, her reasons for needing to step up and protect her, and the setting of the story had a good strong feet to it. My husband and I both agree that Las Vegas would be the first US city to set up Hunger Games like Panem. I liked the concept that Katniss was not bound to some ever lasting love and wasn’t a mindless robot like Bella.
But even Katniss struggled to be a solid role model for girls. She was moody, unsure of herself, and frankly I just couldn’t figure out the connection with her and Peeta Mellark. I felt frustrated repeatedly because I actually liked the link she has in the beginning with the hometown boy Gale Hawthorne. So as the Hunger Games proceed I kept finding myself angry with how Katniss handled the hearts of two very good men. Both men were strong likeable characters with a honest heart and loyal nature. However Katniss used their emotions and good nature throughout the books to her advantage without actually coming out and owning her behavior.
I think the Hunger Games had a chance to show that you can be a strong role model, but the main character still lacked belief in herself to be able to pull that off.
So which female character makes a better lead? Neither of them.. they are both horrible leaders. But I’ll have to go with Katniss, since she at least could kick a little butt with a bow.