Chances are if you look around at your bookshelves right now, or browse the books you have on your Kindle, you’ll discover the majority of them have one thing in common and that’s that they all have female protagonists. It seems it’s a rare thing to come across a series with a male protagonist, either that or they’re out there and I’m just looking in the wrong places.
Why are there More Female Protagonists than Male?
There are a fair few books and series out there that have male protagonists; Shades of Magic, Six of Crows, Legend, and even some contemporary books like When Dimple Met Rishi are giving the male characters more of a spotlight. It’s great to see, don’t get me wrong, but one thing these books have in common is that there are female protagonists as well. I loved all of these books but the majority of books that have male protagonists, and let us read events through their POV, also have female protagonists alongside them.
Where are the books where the male characters are the only ones in the spotlight? It can be done; Patrick Ness has done it with every book he’s released to date, Benjamin Alire Sáenz did it with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and Pierce Brown did it with the Red Rising trilogy.
In case you’ve noticed the trend I did with the above books, that the stories with male protagonists have all been written by male authors, Sally Green did it with the Half Bad trilogy and Mackenzi Lee did it with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.
Like with diverse representation you don’t need to be a male author to write well developed male characters, like anything it comes down to the amount of research you do. Some people would argue that #OwnVoices diverse books are better, because the author has that personal experience they can draw on, and maybe they are. I haven’t read enough #OwnVoices diverse books and compared them to other diverse books to see if there’s a difference. Maybe authors like Patrick Ness and Pierce Brown can write male protagonists better than authors like Sally Green and Mackenzi Lee.
I don’t think so though. Maybe male authors can add something to the characters that female authors can’t, but I think when it comes down to it the success of characters, male or female, comes down to research, writing and character development.
There are plenty more female authors than male in the YA field, and maybe that’s why there are more female protagonists. Whenever I write I lean automatically to female protagonists because it’s what I know. However every book has a handful of male characters, the majority of YA contemporary releases have a male love interest, so what’s the difference between writing a male love interest and a male protagonist.
I’m starting to see what Cale Dietrich was thinking when he came up with the idea of The Love Interest.
When it comes down to it boys need representation in the YA genre. When I’m in Waterstones I’ll see plenty of young boys looking at the Middle Grade books, picking up series like Percy Jackson or Magnus Chase, and I see plenty of older boys in the Sci-Fi section, picking up various books there. There are very little boys in the YA section, and how can there be when there are very few books that they can see themselves in?
Now Onto the Discussion Part of This Post:
Have you noticed a difference between the amount of female protagonists and the amount of male ones?
Do you think we need to see more male protagonists in YA books, or are there other genres with more than enough male protagonists?
Are there any books you’ve read with a male protagonist that you’ve loved?
Do you prefer reading books with male or female protagonists?
Let me know in the comments below.