In YA literature, you can't escape one type of character-- the Queen Bee. I'm not sure I want to avoid it either, because I relished in the evilness of the Queen Bee in one of my secret favorite movies, Mean Girls. That said, like with any character, this character needs to be three dimensional. Some books have gotten it right, others have failed.
Let's start with the ones that got it right. Two come to mind immediately. The first is Kallie, from Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John. At first, we are led to believe that she is the airheaded pretty and popular girl that everyone looks up to. Little by little, we and the main character, Piper, start to realize there is a lot more to this girl than we just see on the outside. She is so much more deep, sensitive and three dimensional than any of us gave her credit for. And as a result, she ends up being one of my favorite characters in the whole book.
The second book that got it right was Anna Dressed in Blood. Carmel, the Queen Bee in this book, is completely unexpected in a wonderful way. She somehow is able to keep her popular status but at the same time break the mold, and hang out with the outcasts, Cas and Thomas. There were several encounters with her underlings that made me laugh out loud. I remember one situation where one of the girls seems geared up to dethrone her. But Carmel somehow takes back her power with ease and grace. Although she is the Queen Bee, we see a three dimensionality to her, and this makes her surprisingly likeable.
Now for the books that I feel missed out on a great opportunity. The first is Anna, from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. She is the pinnacle of the mean girl-- mean without any remorse. Her plan is to take down Mara from the beginning because Mara has done what no other girl has managed to do-- snag Noah Shaw. We aren't given any back story on her, and to me, that made her boring. She doesn't have to be nice deep down inside, but people are more complex than that.
Next is Jenn from The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (which by the way, may be one of my least favorite reads of the year). I'm not sure she's actually a Queen Bee, but she sure is mean. And mean for reasons that I can't comprehend. I guess George throws us some vague hints that she may have an awful home life, but still, we don't get much of a glimpse into her inner self. She could be so much more three dimensional, and George loses some coolness points with this rather useless character.
Finally, I just want to end with my favorite mean girl novel, possibly of all time. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver STARS one of the mean girls. Samantha isn't the Queen Bee, but she is in the inner circle. Oliver toes a dangerous line-- Sam is not likeable in the beginning. But slowly, all of us start to see how Sam blossoms-- too late possibly-- but regardless, becomes the woman that she was meant to be. I rarely cry during novels, but this magical evolution of someone that seems too far gone makes it a heart wrenching novel.
Who are your favorite Queen Bees or Mean Girls?
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