Michael Grant is the author of some of the darkest, grittiest series for teens. His Gone series is one of my all-time favourite series and I always look forward to seeing where he’ll take readers next. Front Lines is the first book in Michael’s latest series in which he reimagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines. Michael will be talking about Front Lines and his other books at the Auckland Writer’s Festival this weekend. You can read my review of Front Lines here on the blog.
I suggested a couple of topics that Michael could write a guest post about as part of his blog tour. As you’ll read Michael chose his own topic, one that he knows a lot about.
So, I’m asked to write a blog post on my top 5 fictional heroines and/or favourite war stories.
Well, this is quite a dilemma. If I go with war stories I’ll have to do research and get my facts straight. That’s a good two days of work. As to fictional heroines, well, despite the fact that I write YA, I don’t read YA much. I kind of don’t like knowing what other authors are doing. They might give me ideas and ideas from outside are so much less fun for me than ideas that just pop into my head out of the ether.
So, basically, yeah I don’t know any YA fictional heroines besides Katniss and Hermione.
How about this? I talk about my own favorite female characters. Because at least I know them.
- Rachel from ANIMORPHS. Rachel was pretty much unique in the 90’s. She was beautiful and she was tough. Yes, I know that’s a common trope now, but in those days it was Buffy, Xena and Rachel, and that was about it. And Rachel wasn’t cute-tough, or girly-tough, she was a warrior – bold and decidedly violent. In fact, Rachel was inspired in part by the character Steve McQueen plays in an old movie called The War Lover. In it McQueen plays a pilot who essentially realizes that war is all he knows, all he’s good at, and that he really loves it. Rachel dies fighting, which as the Vikings would tell you, is the only sure path to Valhalla.
- Sadie/Plath from BZRK. Oh, Sadie. A rich girl plunged into a world of madness and violence where no one is what they seem, no one knows exactly what they’re fighting for, and the line between good and evil is pretty much obliterated. Sadie wants to be a lover not a fighter, but circumstances won’t leave her alone, and however reluctantly, she learns to become a capable fighter, even a leader.
- Penny from GONE. Not a nice person. Penny has the power to make others see what she plants in their minds, and she has a perfectly sadistic, cruel imagination. She has a chip on her shoulder, she has suffered terribly, but still, stapling a mocking crown to Caine’s head? Causing “Cigar” to tear his own veins out? Bad girl, Penny. Very bad girl!
- Diana from GONE. I’ve never had more fun writing a character’s voice. Diana is all ambiguity and snark. She can be manipulative, she can be cruel, but you sense despite all that there’s a real human being inside there, somewhere. She loves the wrong guy – except that he may in the end be the right guy, the only guy for her. She’s carried along in his evil plans, but she’s never entirely convinced that he’s not nuts. And there’s something of the poet about Diana, she sees things others might not, sees deeper into people’s souls. She’s cynical but a spark of idealism still flickers. And she feels, despite the tough-chick act, she feels. Yeah, I liked that girl a lot.
- Rainy from FRONT LINES. Rainy is smart, quick with languages, and has the clarity of vision most people call ruthlessness. She is no one’s fool, no one’s tool. She has a clear vision, unlike her fellow characters Rio and Frangie: she is going to find a way to kill Nazis. In fact, if she had the chance she’d love to put a bullet right in Adolf’s brain. She also knows when to keep it all inside, to reveal nothing, in short she has self-control, something I have yet to achieve. Brilliant, controlled, passionate, determined and ruthless. When she gets out of the army she should totally join the CIA.
Of course now I feel like I’m dissing Cassie (ANIMORPHS) and Mara (MESSENGER OF FEAR) and Dekka and Brianna and Lana (GONE) and Frangie, Rio and Jenou (FRONT LINES) but fortunately none of them read blogs, so they’ll never know.
Bestselling YA author Michael Grant is in Australia and New Zealand to promote Front Lines, the first book in his blockbuster new YA series, Soldier Girl.