Thoughts on female protagonists in YA fantasy

The other day, may daughter finally bought an ereader. It’s a bit sad that my kids wanted to read “real” books long after I’d gone digital, but the physical size of a particular book that she wanted to read on public transport finally won her over.

Anyway, having read said book, I was sitting with her in the Berkelouw second hand book cafe on the bridge thingie in Westfield Hornsby today (if you know this place, it’s very nice), and we were talking about books. The book in question was a sequel, and she said about it: but it’s about a different main character who is a relative of the character in book 1, because at the end of book 1, that character gets married.

And I thought: that just about says it all. When a girl gets married, her story is finished and no longer worth telling.

Which fantasy do you know where female protagonists get married early in the series, and continue to play an important role in the story? So much of this fantasy, especially in YA, is driven by the romance, and once this is resolved, there doesn’t seem to be a story left to tell. Or the author doesn’t think it’s worth telling. Skipping to another character for the next book is very common.

Often these are female authors,many of whom would be married and would be mothers. Do they think that mothers of small children lead such sheltered lives that nothing can happen to them (that doesn’t involve the children, but impacts on the entire family?) Married women and mothers are pretty invisible in real life. They’re pretty invisible in speculative fiction.

Thoughts on female protagonists in YA fantasy was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

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5 comments on “Thoughts on female protagonists in YA fantasy

  1. Stuart Hill’s Cry of the Icemark starts with thirteen year old Princess Thirrin waging war to protect her country. In the first book her friendship with Warlock Oskan is developed as a real friendship — in the second, the narrative skips ahead to when they are married and the majority of the story is told from their son Charley’s perspective. The whole family becomes the focus of the second book.

    However, Thirrin remains a powerful, necessary part of the narrative in that book and in the third book. Her marriage with Oskan is also an important part. I really enjoyed that Hill had matured her from a teenager to a grown woman with children, husband, throne and country to manage, and still managed to keep her perspective in what is, ultimately, a YA book. And they’re great books — well written, funny, gory, challenging and creative.

    Other than that, sadly I can’t think of any. I have a list of ‘women who need their stories told in fantasy and sci fi’ — but it just keeps getting bigger.

    • Thanks for replying.

      Tell me about it. Any woman over the age of 50.
      Any woman who is not white and she gets bonus points if she’s over 25
      Disabled women
      Any women happily single and not on the lookout for Mr Right.
      Women who are carers of older or younger infirm relatives.

      I attempt to address that in some of my fiction, but even so, it’s an uphill battle. People expect romance between two pretty and young people.

    • Thanks for replying.

      Tell me about it. Any woman over the age of 50.
      Any woman who is not white and she gets bonus points if she’s over 25
      Disabled women
      Any women happily single and not on the lookout for Mr Right.
      Women who are carers of older or younger infirm relatives.

      I attempt to address that in some of my fiction, but even so, it’s an uphill battle. People expect romance between two pretty and young people.

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