Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Wish Had More Relevant Female Characters

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Top Ten Books I Wish Had (More/Less) X In Them.” I had so many ideas for this week’s list, but decided I’d like to highlight a few books that I wish had more relevant female characters in them. Often times I’ll pick up a book and the only relevant female character will be the lead and it just makes me wonder why the author couldn’t take the time to develop other female characters. Worse still is when these other female characters become expendable. It’s a trope that I really grow tired of and I’d love to start seeing more books where there is more than one important female character. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I love Hermione. I think she’s all kinds of amazing, but I do wish that more female characters in this series were more relevant. Ginny Weasley is a force to be reckoned with, but at times you really have to read between the lines to discover everything that she was and she really deserved a more prominent role in the series.

2. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski – I had so many high hopes for Kestrel and her best friend Jess. I hoped she would have a bigger role in the second book and when that didn’t happen, I hoped Risha would be a more significant player. I love this series, but it really missed the mark with the other female characters besides Kestrel.

3. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – I love my Raven boys. I really, really do. And I love Blue’s family, all those women living in one house, but I kind of wish Blue had developed an important female friendship with…well, there’s literally no other female in the series who is Blue’s age. Orla is family so she doesn’t count in my mind.

4. Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab – I love the trio in this series. Kell, Lila, Rhy are all amazing, but it would be really nice to get some other awesome female characters in on the action besides Lila. The second book had me wondering where all the gals were. I actually missed Astrid Dane.

5. The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson – Another series that I’ve really enjoyed, but would like a lot more if the protagonist wasn’t the only significant female character.

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6. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson – It’s been a long while since I pick up this first book and I haven’t gotten around to finishing the series, but the female protagonist and her two male love interests are the only characters I can recall. I hope Lia gained a female ally or two in the next two books.

7. Graceling Realms series by Kristin Cashore – I think this series may have been the first fantasy YA one I ever read. I really enjoyed all three books that focused on a different female protagonist, but looking back, I think I would have liked for them to have featured more than one important female character.

8. The Falconer Trilogy by Elizabeth May – I think this series is seriously underrated. It does follow the trope that the protagonist is a special snowflake and I know that can be a frustrating trope, but what loses points for me more is that Aileana is the only female around that gets to fight (aside from the villains).

9. One the Fence by Kasie West – This is my favorite Kasie West novel. I loved Charlie’s relationship with her brothers, but one of the things that really bugged me was that the protagonist had this very rigid view of femininity. She couldn’t reconcile being a girl who played sports with one who may also like things like makeup. This could have easily been solved if more female characters were in this book because no one will ever convince me that this girl lived in a world where there were no girls who loved both sports and dressing up.

10. The 5th Wave Trilogy by Rick Yancey – I loved Cassie in the first book. I loved her voice and determination. The second book really let me down because when we got to see Cassie interact with another female character, it went the stereotypical way and they hated each other for no good reason. Perhaps if more relevant females were around, the author wouldn’t have found the need to pit these two against each other.

What’s one book or series that you think should have more relevant female characters? Why do you think so many authors only seem to focus on one female character? Let me know in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Special Note: Sign-ups for the Winter 2017 Comment Challenge for March are now open. This is the final month for the winter challenge and we’d love for you to join us. We’ll be partnering you with another book blogger and all month long you will be encouraged to comment on each other’s blogs. Click the image to the left for all the info. Special thanks to all those who have participated this season!

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49 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Wish Had More Relevant Female Characters

  1. You’re so on top of all these goods! I completely agree with all of these (that I’ve read). Ginny is such an amazing character, and we barely see her which is too bad. The only thing we really know about her is that she has a mean bat-bogey hex.

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  2. I SO know what you’re saying. Sometimes I find myself wondering why I love the boys in the books better than the girls and I really think it’s because they’re DEVELOPED CHARACTERS– where the girls are just types. I totally would have loved for Blue to have made a girl friend in that series. It was almost like Maggie was trying to make Blue out to be like “she’s not like the other girls”. And I’m beyond sick of that trope.

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  3. Good point, often seems like if there’s a female MC then other females in the book don’t get as developed. Graceling and Falconer were two books I was going to read…

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  4. YES this! I don’t think Harry Potter is nearly as feminist a series as people say it is but I’ve never been able to articulate it quite as well as you just did, so yay for that. 😊

    And I’d never thought of The Raven Boys quite that way before but it’s so true and all of a sudden my vague dissatisfaction with some of Blue’s characterization makes sense now: It’s because she doesn’t interact with that many other female characters!

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    • I love HP to death, but there are certain things about it that always bothered me. I love Blue so much and I was saying to another blogger, I think the author thought she struck a good balance with female and male characters because of Blue’s family, but wouldn’t it have been incredible with more female characters’ Blue’s age?

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  5. Ooh, GREAT topic. You’re absolutely right! I’ve actually read all of these books (woohoo!), and I agree with you 100%. I can’t say I always thought about it while reading them, but thinking back…where are all the awesome female characters? It’s as if authors think they’re doing something revolutionary by having one kickass female character, and then they can check that box and don’t have to worry about women after that. *rolls eyes* As you said, there’s no way Charlie is the only girl in her town who likes sports AND makeup. Those are pretty darn common interests to have. Robin Hobb is an author who started out with very few (if any) relevant female characters in her books. I wonder if it was already hard enough to be a woman writing high fantasy and she needed to make her books as appealing to men as possible? (Ugh.) But, to her credit, she’s gotten MUCH better with this, and her later books feature several amazing girls and women!

    My TTT

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    • Sweet, I’m glad we’ve read all these same books! Yep, I feel like there’s this idea that if you get one amazing female character in a book, it’s revolutionary. I was baffled that out of all those sporty friends Charlie had, none of them also enjoyed “girly” interests as well. I’ve never read Robin Hobb, but I like that she incorporated more female characters, it’s something I’d like to see from more authors.

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  6. Ginny was such an enigma to me. She had more of a presence in the books but they did her so wrong in the movies. She is literally just tailing behind them without saying a word until Harry up and kisses her, then she becomes relevant. She totally failed the Bendel test. I wish Cho had more of a presence too. She was also just there to date boys.

    I love The Falconer series so much! Have you read book 2 yet? May wrote more female characters!

    Great thoughtful list though!

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    • They did Ginny so wrong. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how they portrayed her character. I’m still upset about how they made Ron to be comedic relief and Hermione unreasonably perfect. Cho really was just a love interest (for Harry and Cedric) and she deserved more! I loved the second Falconer book, I’m super stoked for the final book. Thank you!

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  7. Oh Alicia, I admire your love for those Raven boys. *wink* The 5th Wave took a strange turn for me after the first (and so good book) to a slow and steady decline. I’ve always wanted to read The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, but you mention a love triangle. Is it bad? I’m not too fond that as you well know. 😀

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  8. Great list! I especially agree with you on the Winner’s Curse. It was so sad that Kestrel was the only really relevant female character, because the others has so much potential.

    My TTT

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  9. This is a great topic of conversation.
    I think the problem of including and adding more flesh to the supporting characters is the risk of making the book way too long. Writers are wary of how long their books should be so they focus on the main characters.
    Another thing is that, yeah we want more details and strong female roles but the reality is that having one female strong character can detract from the protagonist. I don’t always think that may be the case but sometimes it’s hard enough to find great female role.
    I wish there would be more great kick ass female characters in books!

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    • This is a good explanation, but I find it hard to always buy into having too many characters to focus on being a problem when the author chooses multiple male characters aside from the one female one to write about. I actually don’t believe having multiple strong female characters means it detracts from the protagonist. I think this is rooted in the idea that women are always in competition with one another and one woman’s success somehow subtracts from another. You can have more than one amazing female character in a story because the world is full of amazing women and if a story can feature a bunch of great guy characters who don’t subtract from each other because of it, we should be able to do the same with our female characters.

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  10. This post is actually so relevant. I have only read a few of these books but one that I really agree with you about is The Raven Cycle. I get how the feeling of the book would have been changed by having more female characters and I appreciate that the author did include a large family for Blue along with the presence of Gansey’s sister but I still would have liked her to have even one friend from school who was kind of present in the story.

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  11. Pingback: Monthly Wrap-Up: February ’17 | A Kernel of Nonsense

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