Heroines in YA fiction


It is disturbing that in YA, often the female hero’s main redeeming characteristic is that she is “selfless.” Yes, there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends, but women need to be valued above what they have to give to others. What about solving a problem without violence? And why is life the “go to” sacrifice? Why is death even on the table?

There is a better way.

Bella asks the Volturi to kill her. 
Katniss volunteers to become a Tribute. 
Tris gives herself over to the Erudite. Alone, these actions seem noble, but these heroes are still playing by the establishment’s rules.

Why don’t we break ‘em?

Show me the anarchist, pacifist, peacemaker. Give me the daisy, lovingly placed in the mouth of an AR-15 instead of an arrow piercing the attacker’s heart. Write a dark hero that will not abide by death on either side of the war.


4 thoughts on “Heroines in YA fiction

  1. Interesting.thoughts. I have to say, it never occurred to me that this is more common in female heroines than male heroes.
    For me personally, I’ve always found the noble sacrifice to be the most poignant motif’s in literature and movies. I agree that there needs to be more to characters than this single merit, and violence is often not the best answer. But these sacrifices are not necessarily violence related, either.
    I’ll certainly be on the lookout for this, though, in my reading. Is there less variety of heroine than hero?

    • I think the main problem is that we dismiss death if it’s at the hands of the correct (protagonist) party. We know that whoever is wrong depends on what side of the fence you are on, but I feel that violence is often the first option. I want a heroine that chooses to defy the natural inclination to destroy one’s enemies, and chooses to save them.

  2. This is very thought-provoking and timely as I will be working on the save the country fight scene within the next few months. Your thoughts are definitely something i will keep in mind as the MC prepares to save her uncle from an assassination attempt.

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