June 01, 2016

Too many Girls, not enough Women

I’ve been having a long think about the pandemic of thrillers or twisted fiction books with Girl/s in the title and what it says about publishing trends and what readers want.

I’ve read (or attempted to read) some of the recent blockbusters about these Girl/s. The biggie being The Girl on a Train (my review here) and which followed hot on the killer heels of Gone Girl. I couldn’t get into that book but it worked better as a movie strangely enough.

Would these books have succeeded if they were called Gone Woman or Woman Gone, or The Woman on a Train? Maybe not. These days it seems that using Woman displays some degree of maturity, determination and capability, whereas the use of the word Girl oozes vulnerability, indecision, submission and even mental instability. It seems few want to read about real gutsy Women when there are Girls with benign or even flakey exteriors that are hiding dark souls and deadly intentions.

Just search Amazon or one of the other bookseller sites for Girl/s and you’ll be swamped with so many that all have similar plots, with 2016 providing a bumper crop and far too many to list individually here.

Search for Woman or Women and will get you mostly older books or serious non-fiction about Hillary Clinton, how to assert yourself, plus assorted religious, historical or self-improvement titles. There are very few novels coming out in 2016 featuring Women

There’s The Woman in the Photo  - not to be confused with other books from last year with very similar titles.

Also the upcoming co-written James Patterson/Maxine Paetro Woman of God apparently about a female pope. Perhaps in this case Girl of God would seem like some kind of teen fundamentalist tale and not serious enough?

There is also A Woman of Courage, written by J H Fletcher - who just happens to be a long-established male writer of romantic fiction - an interesting fact in itself.

Being prickly as I am about the over-use of Girl especially for titles of dark thrillers or psychologically-driven stories, there is an excellent novel just out that might be disadvantaged by its title. It is The Lost Girls by Heather Young (my review here) and it may well get lost in having to compete with the fifteen plus others with the same title wandering about on Amazon.

I wonder if Hillary would get more votes if the book about her was changed to A Girl in Charge? Hardly likely - what better ammo for Donald Trump to shoot her down.

As ever, there are exceptions and here are are a few new Girl titles that I came across in my research that actually do appeal to me.

Radio Girls

Rise of the Rocket Girls

Girl Waits with Gun

Lilac Girls

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