Where My Boys At? Male Lead Young Adult Fanasy

So earlier today I noticed that Half A King was being shelved under Young Adult, even though it had no business being there (yes, the protagonist is probably 17, but it’s unquestionably an adult title). Regardless, it made me start thinking: where is the legit, male-lead young adult fantasy?

I was trying to name titles and I was found myself drawing a huge blank. It’s as if young adult fantasy with male protagonists – i.e. a story from a male’s point of view – is as rare as adult fantasy with a female protagonist was. So I set out to the Twitter and asked them for help.

You know, they seemed a little stumped too and I noticed a decent amount of repetition. If there’s one takeaway from all this, it’s that we need more gender equality in fantasy at BOTH levels – more women in adult fare and boys in young adult fare.

Since I did get some suggestions, I thought I’d share with you. I did edit it for just the fantasy titles, since that’s really what prompted this question! If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendare Blake
Chronicles of Nick – Sherrilyn Kenyon
Cirque du Freak – Darren Shan
The Demon King – Cinda Williams Chima
Eragon – Christopher Paolini
The False Prince – Jennifer Nielsen [Middle Grade]
Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta
Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
The Heir Chronicles – Cinda Williams China
The Hunt – Andrew Fukuda
Percy Jackson – Rick Riordan
The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson




12 thoughts on “Where My Boys At? Male Lead Young Adult Fanasy

  1. I read many when I was younger but I agree with you that they are stories of coming of age in an adult format. It doesn’t really fit our definition of current YA ex. Garion in Pawn of Prophecy, Terry Brooks novels, Fitz in Assassin’s Apprentice. It’s just not quite the same thing, is it? Great post.

    • It really isn’t. I love those books (they’re what I read when I was im high school) but I can’t see a modern high school guy being able to connect with someone like Fitz.

  2. Seriously, this is the reason why I developed a hatred for YA for a long time. It took me a time to finally get to the root of the problem, but this is exactly it; there’s no YA written for guys. Middle grade? Sure. Adult? Sure. YA? Nope. There are a few written, yes, but they’re so buried under YA targeted to females it made me frustrated with the entire genre.

    Of that listed you posted, Darren Shan, Rick Riordan and Sanderson’s are all middle grade, they can be read by YA crowds but they’re targeted for 12 and under. On the other hand, there’s Dan Well’s John Cleaver books, but which parent wants their kid to read about a teenage serial killer?

    • I haven’t read Shan or Riodan. Sanderson def skies on the young end of YA, but is so clever I feel it’s a good all-age book.

      Regardless, I seriously don’t blame you for being anti-YA. I’m a woman and I can’t stand a lot of fantasy YA protagonists thanks to the focus on boyfriends over plots.

      I really do think it a shame. I mean, I was never that upset that adult fantasy didn’t have more relatable female MCs, but would I have read them? Sure! The option should be there for guys who want it.

      • These days I’m a lot more open minded about YA; there’re a lot of authors doing good things in the genre, even if they’re completely buried under diluted versions of Anne Rice. Gives me hope. Plus, I have to give the genre credit where it’s earned it; I was so disgusted by what’s considered fantasy in it that it actually made me start reading more adult fantasy novels, which now makes up 75% of what I read the least, lol. So it would be unfair of me to say YA never contributed positively to my reading! Inadvertently or otherwise, hah 😀

      • I forgot I’m also going to be reading China Mieville’s YA stuff too, lol. That guy has one of the most fertile imaginations I’ve ever read.

      • Half A King I don’t consider YA because it’s classic epic fantasy in story and tone- if he wasn’t like 16 it wouldn’t even be up for debate!

        Steelheart was a lot of fun. You should enjoy.

      • Oh, I get ya. It’s like saying Prince of Thorns is YA because Jorg is 14.

        I’m only waiting on the series to finish 🙂

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