I read somewhere recently that there’s a small backlash among urban fantasy readers against the kickass heroine (and, less often, hero) who seems to populate most of the popular series these days.
Kitty Norville is one exception. Recently, I picked up the first few books of Carrie Vaughn’s series. The werewolf named Kitty (and how great is that) starts out, well, weak. Not even so likeable. I ended up liking the series a lot, but the first book almost lost me. I’m glad I kept reading so I could watch Kitty grow as the books progress, but it struck me how hard it is making your character strong enough to be likeable (or, if weak, at least sympathetic) and yet still give them room to grow.
I look at some of my favorite series, and see different tactics.
*In Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, Mercy embraces her coyote self but also recognizes she’s out of her league around the werewolves and their politics, so she separates herself and uses her skills more often as mediator than aggressor as the series progresses. Her growth is more in terms of her emotional availability than her skills in her shifter guise.
* Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden offers an interesting “growth pattern.” He doesn’t so much develop greater powers (though there is some of that) but he matures a lot.
*In the Sookie Stackhouse series, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie mostly fights/denies/controls her powers. She uses them a bit when she’s forced to, but wants to retain as much normalcy as possible in her life. I like this series a lot. Does Sookie grow as it progresses? I’m not so sure (but you’d better believe I’m waiting for my copy of the new book to arrive today.)
* Of course the great-grandma of UF series heroines is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake. Anita has grown both emotionally and in terms of power (and, ahem, sexual skills, I guess one would have to say) as this series has moved through–what 17 or 18 books now? She started out kick-ass, but like Dresden has matured in how she uses her powers.
So, who’s your favorite UF heroine or hero? Are you tired of the kickass heroine? And what do you like about how your favorites have grown through their series?