Today, I was trying to decide what book to feature in answer to a picture challenge on my Instagram. The prompt was ‘female friendships’. For my picture I wanted to feature a not just any female friendship in a book I have read but a strong female friendship which features as largely as any romantic relationship in the novel does.
But I was struck by a major issue: I couldn’t think of any books I’ve read which feature such a friendship. Curious as I am I thought I’d look a little further into this by scrolling through lists of books in the genre I read the most of (YA fantasy) in order to find any examples of female friendships in books I’ve read. Whilst the list was large – it wasn’t nearly as large as I’d expected and – of all the books in the list featuring female friendships I had only read one.
With a little further research I found a fantastic article by Karina Sumner-Smith which delved a little deeper into the question: where are women’s friendships in fantasy and sci-fi? In the article Karina discusses how friendship can be as important as romance in driving a character forward. Certainly there are plenty of strong male friendships in sci-fi and fantasy which prove this. Think Harry and Ron, Sam and Frodo and Jon Snow and Sam. Then ask yourselves where are the friendships between female characters in such novels?
They are sadly and overwhelmingly lacking, despite the fact female friendships are an important part of everyday life.
After much umming and ahhing on this issue I have decided to feature the friendship between Kizzy and Rosemary in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet for my picture challenge. I have found that Becky Chambers has a knack for featuring strong relationships between her characters in her novel and I really enjoyed they way these characters interacted with each other in a platonic way.
If you know of any sci-fi/fantasy books featuring strong female friendships make sure to comment them below (so I can check them out). I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this ‘issue’. Do you think there is a lack of significant female friendships in sci-fi/fantasy?