Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stupid Heroines

I was reading a book this weekend that got me thinking about heroines and the sometimes stupid things they do. This book is part of a series, and I'd really enjoyed the first book. And the second book was pretty good. The heroine is a little ditzy, clutzy, always getting herself into off-the-wall situations by doing sort of stupid things - but at the same time, you can understand why she's doing what she's doing.

At the end of the second book was quite a long excerpt for the third book. I started reading it. Until I realized that the setup for what the heroine was about to get herself into was too ridiculously stupid for even a fictional character. I mean the whole mystery/storyline, etc was fine. But the way the heroine went about getting involved was just too unbelievable for me.

In the first two books, situations sort of happened that the heroine had no control over and yes she made poor choices, but at the same time, you can understand why she was making those choices. But in book 3, her boyfriend ends up getting demoted at work because of something stupid (but understandable) that she does. He rightly and understandably tells her to keep her nose out of his work life (he's a cop).

To make it up to him, so he'll have to forgive her, she decides to help him solve his case. And this apparently kicks off a book's length of high-jinx adventures.

I stopped reading the second she decided to "help him." It is completely unbelievable to me. I don't care how ditzy you are or how badly you want to help, I can't imagine a rational person, 10 seconds after finding out that her dumb actions almost get a man she supposedly cares for fired, and 8 seconds after being told in no uncertain terms that she needed to keep away from his cases, deciding that the best course of action would be to jump right in there and start meddling again.

I'll probably still read later books in the series, but there comes a point that I just can't deal with a character's stupidity. I'm all for giving characters flaws, and this character is pretty flawed and it normally works great. But you've got to make it believable. And for me, in this instance, her actions were unbelievable and stupid enough that I lost all desire to read the book.

I had one other instance of this happening. I picked up a book everyone was raving about, but the main character was so irritatingly whiny I couldn't stomach spending more than 3 chapters with her. Maybe she got better later on in the book - but I couldn't deal with sticking around with her longer to find out.

I think there is a fine line between charmingly flawed and just downright irritating. Hopefully the characters I create don't cross it :)

Have you ever come across an instance like this? Has a character ever turned you off so badly you walked away from the book, even (or esp) if it was part of a series you otherwise liked?


Matthew MacNish said...

I've never personally given up completely on a book for this kind of thing, but I've definitely gotten frustrated.

Patti said...

It's a totally frustrating thing to read a book where the character is completely clueless. I may not give up on the book, but I've definitely taken a long time to read it.

Theresa Milstein said...

Yes. I call it plot-driven stupidity. I have no patience for it. (And I also hope I don't do it in my own writing.)

You have me curious about these books you've started reading now.

Alicia Evans said...

Oh yes, plenty of times. I have read a book and disliked the heroine so much that it made me upset because I want to like the heroine!

Also, I can't stand reading books by the same author where the heroine are always carbon copies of the last with a few minor tweaks

But I hate stupid heroines the most...

Stephanie McGee said...

I haven't encountered it yet where I stop reading because the heroine is so stupid. But, I will say that I'm tired of the stupid heroine in literature. Lately I've been encountering less stupid female protags in the YA lit I've read and I love it.