Pickychick Notes: A Discussion of Genre

12 Sep

So I’ve been fretting about the sheer number of fantasy/historical fiction-type books that I’ve been writing about on the blog, and trying to balance them with plenty of more general fiction types. I have to admit that I have a serious preference for the previous genres, and I don’t care too much for the other stuff, which I worried was affecting my selection pool. But I’ve been thinking about it, and I think in terms of this blog, personal preference hasn’t actually been what’s building a majority of the aforementioned genre-specific picks.

Let me explain. In the typical historical or fantasy-type book with a female main character, the basic plot is genrally some sort of mission/quest/thing (!!) or a major event or adventure. Sometimes she has magic, sometimes she’s good at fighting, and sometimes she’s just plain crafty. But she’s almost always unconventional for her setting. These books are about ground-breakers in their society for whatever reason. This blog was created to focus in on characters like that, whose personal journeys are mirrored by actual changes around them: whether they’re the first female knight, or they stop a massacre, or they save [fill in the blank].

Now let’s look at more of the chick-lit, teen lit, whatever you want to call it. Now I’m certainly generalizing here, but a lot of the books seem to be of the Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, Peaches, Clique type. The personal journey is generally tied up in a love interest and/or triumph over a catty rival. The intrigue is gossip or break-ups, the climax is prom, and the arch-enemy is another girl. This, in my opinion, is not reading that promotes positive role models for girls. You can argue it, but that’s (as previously stated) my personal view.

Of course, this is not universally the case, in fact there are plenty of great general fiction books for YA readers that are on the pickychick list – Go Ask Alice, The Secret Life of Bees, Olive’s Ocean, anything by Ellen Hopkins. And I’m not contending that all fantasy/sci-fi/historical/etc books have awesome girls in charge. I was particularly disappointed by The Mortal Instruments series, and of course the old standard: Twilight. But I think it’s a little easier just in the plot form for non-general fiction YA books to have strong female characters, and that’s my reasoning behind the imbalance of genres in the blog. But I promise that there will be plenty of general fiction picks for those of you who prefer reading that’s not full of hocus pocus, haha!

Also, this is a good point to ask if anyone has any recommendations (general fiction or genre specific) for books they think should be up here – send ‘em in!


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