Today's topic: YA Character Names.
Naming the protagonist of your book must be a little like naming your baby. You want the name to fit the character's personality and be memorable but not overused. (I, Jennifer, can cite chapter and verse on having an overused name...)
Just like baby names, character names also have trends. Here's my rundown of the last few years in YA:
2012 was a hot year for books about twins, dopplegangers, and doubles. There were also books about genetic engineering and cloning. So perhaps it makes sense that one of the hot character names was:
|"Eve Tempted by the Serpent" by William Blake|
In late 2011, we had Eve by Anna Carey. A few months later, there was Eve of Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant (October 2012.) We had Eva from What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (September 2012) and also The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (August 2012.)
In 2013, an unusual name suddenly took flight in the YA world.....
The name Wren has also slowly been gaining popularity in the US. According to Appelation Mountain, in 2000, 18 newborn girls and 10 boys received the name. By 2010, there were 185 new girls and 32 new boys named Wren. Last year, 250 newborn girls were named Wren, along with 29 boys. (For perspective, in 2012 there were about 28,000 newborns named Emily.)
But back to YA. I can't explain the fact that so many YA authors suddenly thought of the name Wren, but there was Wren Connelly in Reboot by Amy Tintera. (May 2013). Then, Wren Gray showed up in The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle (August 2013). Not long after, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell featured a Wren. (September 2013). Finally, we had Wren Caswell in The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine (December 2013).
ETA: I had a little scrap of paper with my Wren list and misplaced it, then had this feeling I was forgetting someone My friend Heather @ Flyleaf Review points out that I forgot Wren Wells of Lovely Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara (October 2012).
2014 is just getting started, so I'm still getting a handle on the new kids on the block. But, as of today, here's my take on YA female character names in 2014:
Trend Forecast: Girly Girl AND Tomboy Names
My completely unscientific survey of 2014 YA female main character names found a lot of no-frills, gender-neutral names (many with a Celtic flare) AND a lot of super-feminine names that sound straight out of Victorian times. I don't know if these characters' names fit their personalities -- yet.
The Girly Girls:
Imogene: Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley (April 2014)
Charlotte: Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike (April 2014)
Bettina: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor (June 2014)
Clementine: Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff (August 2014)
Sofia: The Merciless by Danielle Vega (August 2014)
Lara: To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (April 2014)
Emma: Tease by Amanda Maciel (April 2014)
Daisy: The Sound of Letting Go by Stacia Ward Kehoe (February 2014)
Madeline: Landry Park by Bethany Hagen (February 2014)
Brighton of Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt (February 2014)
Reagan of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (April 2014)
Macallan of Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg (February 2014)
Kestrel of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (March 2014)
Charlie of On the Fence by Kasie West (July 2014)
Forest of Insanity by Susan Vaught (February 2014)
Rowan of Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman (February 2014)
Kit of Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell (April 2014)
ETA: Thanks, everyone for being so enthusiastic. Prompted by the comment left by Sara @ Forever 17 Books, I'll do a rundown on those omnipresent C names. If you have any characters to add, just let me know!
In 2007, we first met Clary of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. 2010 brought Cassia from Matched by Ally Condie and Calla from Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (and did you know that Ally Condie actually changed her character's name from Calla because the two books were released the same year.) In 2012, there was Clara from Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. And Cassie has been a popular name in YA for a while: The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith (2008), Beautiful by Amy Reed (2009), and Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein, The Third Wave by Rick Yancey, and The Originals by Jennifer Barnes in 2013.
I'll definitely be tracking more 2014 trends in the coming weeks -- I hope you'll stop by on another Thursday :) And if you're a blogger and ever want to participate, shoot me an email. We can do the same topic or different ones and link to each others' posts.