Discussion

YA Badass Heroine Trope

Okay. I’m going to name a few YA heroines, super-famous ones, whom you’ve probably heard of, and when you read all their names, what is one collective word you can use for them? Answer!

  • Katniss Everdeen, Hunger Games
  • Tris Prior, Divergent
  • Celaena Sardothein, Throne of Glass
  • Mare Barrow, Red Queen
  • Feyre, A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • Shahrzad, The Wrath and the Dawn

Okay? So what is that word!?

I might be totally wrong in guessing your answer, but one thing which is common for all of them : badass. They’re all strong, quick-witted, sharp, smart, attractive, intelligent, hardy, fighters, impulsive, frank, sassy, and witty.

And fact it? I’m tired. I’m tired of heroines all being like these. I’m not trying to be sexist here and say that girls can’t be strong or girls can’t be all of the above things at once, I’m just saying that human beings in general, cannot be all of the above. Even if they can, not everyone is, and the few badass people which exist in real life, they too have a limit, for god’s sake. But lately, I’ve been reading just too much of such heroines, and I just need a break.

I know that fantasy itself doesn’t have any obligation to match the real world, but I just feel that this ‘badass heroine’ trope is far, far too overused. I’ve just read so many of these heroines that they all now appear the same to me. Like, what is even the difference? They’re pretty much the same, except for different names and different love interests.

Initially, when I started reading fantasy and dystopian, with The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen was a wonder. She was strong, and inspiring, and I’m sure every thirteen-year old reading the books had, in some part of her, wanted to be like the strong, determined character that is. And if you ask me now, years after I’m done with the series, I’d still say that yes, Katniss Everdeen is a remarkable character.

What I have a genuine problem is the various replicas of Katniss Everdeen. I’m tired of reading about the same old badass heroine who ends up saving others and winning the show. I’m tried of characters who are unrealistic. I just hate how every YA fantasy series HAS to have a badass heroine nowadays to work.

This feeling was further reinforced when I was reading The Raven Cycle series, and how lovely Blue Sargent is. She isn’t a fighter. She isn’t insolently quick-witted or sharp-tongued (though she has an amazing sense of humour). She is a warm, lively, realistically human character who is both strong and flawed, and beautiful inside out. Her character just further proved to me how YA fantasy does NOT need a badass female heroine all the time. I feel like there should be more variations, and authors should try to humanize their characters than fit them into any kind of ‘trope’.

I mean, I do not want the heroine to be a Bella Swan, but why does she have to be either of the two extremes? Either fierce and stronger-than-anybody-else-in-the-book or the-weakest-pathetic-excuse-of-a-protagonist? Why can’t a heroine be safely placed between the two extremes?

And

I adore Katniss.

What Tris did at the end of the series (according to me) was not heroic and irrational.

One more time quotes like ‘She was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius—­and she would not be afraid.‘ and ‘She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph. ‘ appear – I’m just SO done with this series.

Mare, in Glass Sword, was annoying AF. Here’s the small something I posted on GR about this book : Capture

Feyre suddenly transformed from whimpering, crazy-in-love gentle little human to full-on fierce badass in a matter of two minutes in this book.

Shahrzad was a bit too much of a rebel and too impulsive, but I have to admit, she grew on me. But thankfully, it was just two books so I never really could get a chance to hate her or anything.


That’s it! I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Do you like badass heroines?!

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15 thoughts on “YA Badass Heroine Trope

  1. See, I like the kind of heroines that don’t know their strength. Katniss was great but she was already badass when it started. When I wrote my books, I wanted my heroine(s) to start as regular people with regular problems, and then throw them into a world they didn’t know about. They’re forced to face their problems and embrace what it takes to survive. This is by far the biggest transformation they can make. That, in my eyes, is what makes a person badass. So, Tris, perhaps was a little more like that, but her inherent nature was always that of a Dauntless – you could see it from the start. I like to see that complete evolution, and we don’t see that often enough.

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    1. Yes. Sometimes when authors manage doing that, it is a great thing to read. I also have a problem with such heroines being too full of themselves and just SO aware of their own greatness that they disregard everything else. That’s an ache for me.

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  2. I’m a Katniss lover! She’s my favorite female book character of all time. I agree with you that the girls that came after her are like cheap knockoffs. And in some cases, it almost feels forced. I haven’t read ToG, but I’ve read so many reviews that say the author is telling you Celaena is tough though it’s not reflected in her actions or dialogue. This is just what I’ve seen on blogs. Tris was another character that showed bits of heroism, but I didn’t really believe it. Katniss had a hard life. Someone like her would fight to survive. I just never saw this as believable for Tris.

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    1. Yes exactly. After katniss, there was too much of a flood of such characters. Tris was not THAT tough, but the book tried to portray her as super strong female heroine. And if you’re planning on reading ToG, you’ll love the series but by the fourth book, Aelin becomes super annoying because she’s just too full of herself and her strength. And that’s just a huge turn off for me.

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      1. I agree. Tris wasn’t even close to the same level as Katniss. I always thought she was weak, pretending to be strong, where Katniss shows a certain amount of mental and physical toughness from the start. Her struggle was real and so were her reasons behind every one of her actions. I’ve heard so many things about the characters in ToG, and I don’t know if I’ll ever read the books because of it. Celaena doesn’t sound like a very likable character based on the conversations I’ve had with several bloggers. I’m still on the fence with that one. Maybe one day I’ll take a peak since it’s sitting on my Kindle unopened. I’m not a fan of characters that are arrogant to the point that it’s revolting. It’s funny that everyone says wait until the fourth book. Does nothing happen until then? I would lose interest fast if that’s the case.

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        1. Yep. Katniss was tough and strong whereas Tris was a poor replica of hers. That’s why I questioned in the post as to why authors need to add such characters in their books AT ALL.
          As to ToG, I personally really enjoy the series, I like the action and all. Mainly, they are great ‘reads’ but not so good ‘books’. You can fly through them because so much happens. But when it comes to characterization, there are issues.
          By the fourth book, Aelin becomes too annoying. My biggest character pet peeve is characters who are too full of themselves. I just can’t stand them. And Aelin, in the fourth book suffers severely from that.
          As far as to whether nothing happens before the fourth book, each person has their own perception. I felt that the series from the start was pretty engaging.

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          1. I think a strong character reveals themselves through their actions and dialogue and that’s why Suzanne Collins did such a great job with Katniss. The whole time Katniss assumes she’s as good as dead, but she never gives up, which is what I loved so much about her. I could gush over Katniss all day. All these years later and I’m still a huge fan. She’s that one character that’s always stuck with me. It sounds like ToG is plot-driven, so with that in mind, I could look past an annoying character, as long as they’re not driving me completely insane. I’d have to just focus on the story if possible. I like a mix of plot and character driven books, so that might be where ToG would fall flat for me. I like to feel somewhat of a connection to at least one character even if it’s a secondary one.

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            1. Yess those are exactly the reasons why I admire katniss. As for ToG, yes it’s plot driven. That is why even though I had character issues, I thoroughly enjoy reading the books.

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            2. Okay, that makes sense now why everyone says how awesome the books are but have issues with the characters. I kept thinking if the characters were bad then how did they keep reading, but if there’s a ton of action, which I love, I get it.

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  3. This has been something that has bothered me for a long time, but I haven’t really said anything about it to anyone because it seemed to me like most people like these kinds of heroines. Which is fine, and sometimes I do, too. The problem with this trend is that society is in danger of losing sight of the value of other kinds of strength if this picture of a strong female character continues to be the most common and popular one. The key, as it usually is, is variety. If every book is populated with the same characters using different names, there isn’t a point. Anyway, really enjoyed reading this post!

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  4. I think, like you, I appreciate characters who are a mix of vulnerable and badass. I certainly don’t mind the occasional ultra-fighter heroine, but I certainly don’t want to read those types of characters all the time. The problem is that once something becomes popular, it gets beaten to death!

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