I've been catching up on my reading pile (some new, some old), and something is nagging in the back of my head because of it. I read a total of four books this past month, all YA. Here's the most important bit;
I don't remember the main character of any of them. NONE of the main characters stuck with me, or in my head. If you asked me to sit down and describe them, I could give you vague details about the color of their hair or eyes, but that's it.
This is bad.
I'll admit it right now - my memory is less than stellar. My short term is confined to what I ate, and my long term is busy remembering who I've queried or not, but the space where I keep literary main characters is flawless. Spotless. Excelsior. A good/even somewhat decent main character will stick in my mind because I have that knack. (Nevermind math, I remember the direly IMPORTANT stuff; IMAGINARY PEOPLE).
But these past four books, I don't remember their MC at all. This means one of two things;
1. On all four books, I just wasn't paying attention enough. (Not likely.)
2. The MC's just really blow.
'Blow' is a subjective term, and when I use it my age becomes evident - too young to drink, but old enough to have read a lot of books. I'm a product of the Power Rangers and Sailor Moon era, for those who know their decades of TV.
So these MC's blow. When I say that, I mean they were one or all or a mixture of the following;
1. Were merely a vessel for the plot to work out of
2. Had no defining characteristic traits, or traits that were muddy, undefined, or otherwise altered to fit into the story
3. They were blatant Mary Sues thinly disguised by attempts to NOT be a Mary Sue and therefore rendered even MORE Sue-ish.
4. All four MCs were girls, and this means that they also might have been 'living' through their love interest. The author, at times, made their relationship the most important thing in the book, and as such the MC suffered character loss for it.
5. The MC was a repugnant, idealized, 2D, or inaccurate representation of the modern teenage female.
6. The MC and her 'voice' were simply a amplification device for the author to express their own stands on things, such as divorce, materialism (which apparently many of the MCs approved of), and stereotypes (ironically, if the MC points out that she 'doesn't get stereotypes', this is often an indication that the author is trying to make her NOT look like one, but it has the exact reverse effect).
7. The MC was racist, and described everyone who wasn't white as 'creepy' or 'disgusting'.
8. The author frequently seemed to forget who's head they were supposed to narrating out of - theirs or their MC's.
You can see why I didn't name names. :P I'm just entirely appalled by the state of YA MC heroines at this point. Dear industry, can you still recognize a truly 'strong' female MC and publish her? Is the YA industry still being written for young adults, and not older adults who enjoy YA? The last MC I enjoyed was in Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red, and that was when I read it over a year ago. Since then, I have yet to read a female MC that I enjoy and would like to know in real life if she was real.
I may come off as picky, but if I can't remember even one decently built character detail about your MC, something is wrong.
C'mon writer friends! Shake it up for us, your loyal readers. We're RAPIDLY losing interest in your silly Buffy-clone MCs. ;)
Note: This is not to say my own characters are perfect. They actually kinda fall into a lot of those catergories I mentioned above. XD I'm working hard to perfect them.