Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What I'm Reading: a strong female lead with Illona Andrew's series.

To piggyback off of my post on Friday, I thought I’d discuss a particular series that I enjoy reading: Illona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series. A friend of mine actually pointed me toward it. I know I’ve discussed it here before, so I’ll try not to repeat what I’ve previously said. 

Photo taken from the Official Website
The first thing that captured me is the unique premise. I think that is true for any series. It has to be different than anything out there. The world has to be intriguing and not boring. Familiar is boring. The unique world here is that magic swings in and out with technology. I can’t think of another story where this dilemma exists…and it certainly adds a roadblock to the plot at times. 

So, the plot snagged me, but what hooked me is the main character. Kate Daniels begins the series as a mercenary; only, people pay her to get rid of magical beings. What I like the most about her characters is that she can fight with the most ruthless of the boys. But, more importantly, they respect her. I think the problem a lot of writers have when creating strong character is to write a lack in confidence. She doesn’t have to convince them, in fact doesn’t care what they think. She knows she’s good. 

Another aspect I love about her is her wit. She has snazzy comebacks. Again, she doesn’t try to pump herself up with them. She merely knocks them down a peg with a short phrase. She was battling a thug, I think in book 2, and said, “You know I do this for a living, right?” It stuck with me because I remember agreeing that the guy should just give up. 

More importantly, she is human. She doesn’t know all the answers walking into a situation. She goes into a battle with confidence she can win, but she doesn’t have all the answers. In her personal life, she makes mistakes. Again, it amounts to a lack of perfection. 

I think this quality is important in any characterization (even if we’re talking about a superhero in a comic book). If she can take on everything and everything goes well for her… that’s boring. Sure she faces some interesting things, but without that doubt of success on my part why bother reading it. 

When the discussion came up last week about a lack of strong female characters in fantasy and sci-fi fiction, I immediately thought of Kate Daniels. I think she works as a strong female because the author is actually the result of a husband and wife writing team. But, I don’t think that means both genders have to combine to make this happen. I think we can all write strong females with the traits above. But I also feel we need to remember one important fact: she is still a girl. She still wants what girls want. She still thinks like a girl. This is not a weakness…but certainly can add a comedic value to the plot.

What traits do you look for in strong female leads? What strong female characters do you love?

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