Sunday, 3 February 2013

Male Leads - An Endangered Species?

For my first post on my new blog (Yah!) I decided to ask a question: why are there so few Young and New Adult books written from a male's POV? And by that I don't mean a guy sharing the stage with a girl, like Noah does in Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry.

Maybe it's just me, but I can only think of a handful of books where the boy is the hero. Harry Potter, obviously. But then I have to start wracking my brains, and the following list is the best I can come up with.

Ender Wiggin, the hero, is an amazing little boy. He's only six when he's taken from his family and sent to Battle School to train as the commander of the world's starfleet, fighting against an alien race.  When the book ends he's just turned thirteen, so he's a lot younger than the usual YA protag. To me, Ender is the quintessential tough guy we all love reading about, but with a heart of gold. Fantastic coming of age story.

In this book we meet Bean. A tiny waif with a HUGE chip on his shoulder who is also taken to Battle School to train as Ender's second-in-command. He also happens to be a genius. Not nearly as likeable as Ender, Bean shows us how living in the ghettos can affect a child. Again, he's as tough as nails, but as brittle as glass on the inside. 

Cassel is on the opposite scale to Ender and Bean. He comes from a family of Curse Workers - people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. Although Cassel doesn't really want to be sucked into the 'family business' of crime, he's the perfect confidence trickster. He has no problem fleecing his own mother. But for all that he's a con man, he's very likeable. But again, not your classic hero.

Thomas from The Maze Runner. Hmmm . . .  As much as I loved The Maze Runner series, Thomas and I didn't jell. I only started seeing him as a leader/hero in the final book - The Death Cure. But maybe that's me. In my view Dasher did a much better job with his supporting characters, Minho and Newt. What do you think?
 Again, Rigg, the MC, is not a classic hero. Orson Scott Card seems to like writing about geniuses. Rigg has the power to see the energy trails of humans and animals - going back centuries. He is a smart-mouthed kid who knows everything, and can handle himself in any given situation. I loved the book. But, as I say, he's not your typical hunk of testosterone.

Here we have Trigg - no to be confused with Rigg. Trigg's the kind of guy who is ultra loyal to his little sister and will take any amount of pain for her. He's stubborn and determined. When everyone else is packing up to go home, he's just getting started. But again his talents are more cerebral than buff. He thinks his way though problems, rather than using his fists. Maybe it's a reflection on me, but he doesn't set my heart racing either!
Okay. No. As much as I enjoyed these books, I don't even really see Ethan as a boy. My daughter is going to kill me . . . But he isn't. How many seventeen-year-old boys do you know who wax lyrical about the smell of rosemary and lemons? No, sorry. Nice as he is, Ethan's not a real boy-hunk-hero.

I did not enjoy this book. Jackson and I didn't click. I just did not like him.

So why do you think there are so few books written from the male's POV? Is it because we prefer kick-butt girls? Or is it that most YA authors are women and they're more comfortable writing about girls? Orson Scott Card is a guy and he writes about boys.

I don't have the answer, but I'd love to hear what you think.  Also, please suggest some great books with male protags for me to read.

Until next time,

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