I like comments, so I'm going out on a limb today in hopes of stirring up some healthy debate.
I loved Twilight. There, I said it. Let the flaying commence!
I've read several blog posts vilifying Bella Swan for being such a weak female (and I'm talking about the book here, not the movie, 'cuz I don't really care for the movies). It's true, she is. And at times, I wanted to throttle her, but to be honest, I was pretty wimpy and emotional as a teenager (even without vampires and werewolves fighting for my affection). Why should she be any different? And if she were, wouldn't that actually detract from the story?
It seems that many agents are looking for books with a 'strong female character'. No namby pamby, wimpy dames need apply! We want the women of urban fantasy novels that are kickin' butt and taking names. And why is that? Is it because we want to be women like that? Is that the female ideal? Can we relate to these strong female characters in a way that we can't relate to whiny teenage girls like Bella? Or is it that we want our female characters to be 'role models'?
I can't say (hence the need for your comments!). I can tell you that I enjoy books more when I connect with the main character, when I can understand what made her do or say what she did (however heroic or stupid). And I like when the characters don't have it all together, since I certainly don't.
My favorite characters make mistakes, have doubts and fears, and are stronger for having come through the trial (as is Bella). They don't have to be rock stars, and in fact, I prefer them flawed. If they are "too strong" and "too perfect", it bores me. That being said, if a character doesn't grow over the course of a novel, I feel let down. So I'm all right with a wimpy heroine who eventually finds her strength and goes after what she wants. I'm even okay with being angry with her for the foolish decisions she makes along the way. Just as long as she pulls it together at the end ('cuz I do love a happy ending).
What about you? Are you looking for a strong female character, and why (or why not)?