Keep Me Posted!

Sign me up for the latest news from Penguin Teen, including new books, special offers, and promotions.

Alwyn Hamilton Gets Real on THE LAST JEDI


Alwyn Hamilton, one of our resident Star Wars enthusiasts, and author of the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, saw THE LAST JEDI, and had some thoughts about the treatment “strong female characters.”



I wasn’t yet born in May of 1980. That’s not a brag about being young. I’m just saying I wasn’t around when THE EMPIRE STRIKES back came out to hear the reactions to it. So I don’t know for sure if people leaving the cinema (once they got over the “I am your father!” reveal) were talking about how unrealistic is was that Luke would be able to go toe to toe with Darth Vader and come out of it with only a lost hand. After all, he only had a few days of Yoda Backpack training. SO UNREALISTIC.


But somehow I doubt it.


But I was around in 2015 when THE FORCE AWAKENS came out and I kept having to hear that about Rey vs. Kylo.


And OMG I AM SO BORED of hearing the word “unrealistic” applied to competent female characters. So bored that I wrote a whole trilogy of books because of an article I once read about how it was “unrealistic” for “biologically weaker female characters” to wield the same weapons as men in fantasy novels. Broadswords and Light sabers alike apparently are not suitable for female consumption. But give me your callow youths, your untrained farmhands and of course they should rise to the occasion with nothing but confidence and a few laps around a swamp!


Even after many years of the conversation about “strong female characters”, and all the progress we’ve made with our Hermiones and our Katnisses, female characters are still judged more harshly. Inspected more closely when they do something competent. No excuses are made for them. No one asks you to suspend your disbelief for Rey.


So when I saw the trailer for THE LAST JEDI, with all the shots of Luke and Rey together, her wielding the light saber, I assumed what I think we all did, that Rey was getting a training montage. To justify her competency in the inevitable end of movie showdown. And with 2 years of speculation swirling around about Rey’s parentage (Skywalker? Kenobi? Solo?) we’d find out what her great and powerful bloodline was and get another justification for how she schooled Kylo Ren in that snowy forest 2 years ago.


And can I just tell you how thrilled I was to be wrong on both counts?


THE LAST JEDI didn’t trip over itself to give us a Rey that could stand up to the naysayers. In fact it leaned in to treating her exactly as it would, and has, a male hero. Everything you need to know about how she got so awesome is in THE FORCE AWAKENS. She’s already a badass from her years surviving on Jakku. She doesn’t need a training montage to learn how to fight. Any training on that stony island was of her mind at best, and, in most cases, too fraught to be of any help to he. Sure, having her train with Luke would have made a more straightforward, and probably less messy movie (yes, I said it, I loved it but it was messy). But it was not what Rey needed. And it’s not what I cared about seeing either.
And then there’s the parentage reveal! (Spoilers ahead, obviously, you have been warned) I hear some found it anticlimactic. But I loved it. Besides being the fact that it was the only thing that wasn’t going to make everyone go “I KNEW IT!” it also didn’t offer us up any excuses for her. Because Rey is not some hidden Jedi Princess, she’s just a girl, born to Nameless Nobodies. She doesn’t need to a special bloodline to accomplish what she did in Episode VI. She did that on her own skills. Her own Badass-ness. Rey could be anybody. Which means for every young girl watching, that anybody could be like Rey.


In the end THE LAST JEDI did exactly what it should have: It didn’t treat Rey like a “strong female character” it just treated her like the Hero.



Want to start reading Alwyn’s books? Start with Rebel of the Sands!













5 Deleted Scenes That Were Cut From THE MERCILESS II Because They Were Too Scary

Don’t be deceived by the pretty pink cover: the insides of The Merciless are twisty, creepy, gory, and sometimes downright terrifying. Book 2 is no exception. We checked in with author Danielle Vega to get the inside scoop on writing the series, and boy did she deliver. Here are 5 scenes from the The Merciless II that got cut. Think you can … Continued
See More

5 Life Lessons from Netflix’s CHEER

Author Jennifer Iacopelli of Break the Fall, like us, is a HUGE fan of Netflix’s addictive new original: CHEER. So, we asked her to share her top five takeaways! Here are 5 life lessons from Netflix’s CHEER.   Try New Things   Take a page out of Gabi Butler’s book and don’t be afraid to try something … Continued
See More

Welcome to the We Are YA Podcast!

YA books are longer than 280 characters. Conversations about YA should be too. Welcome to the We Are YA podcast! Over 7 episodes, host Anna Borges will be talking all all things YA with the amazing authors that make up the modern YA community. Here is where you can find additional information and links to each episode! … Continued
See More

9 1/2 Things We Learned and Loved From Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana Documentary

If you found yourself deeply emotionally invested in Taylor Swift’s recent Netflix documentary, you’re not alone. And luckily, our fav YA couple IRL, Austin Siegemund-Broka & Emily Wibberley (Wibbroka, if you will) are also HUGE fans. So, they sat down to recap their top nine (and a half) things we learned (and loved) from Taylor Swift’s … Continued
See More

A Q&A with Adib Khorram

We are IN LOVE with the cover for Darius the Great Deserves Better, and it got us thinking about some questions we have both about the cover and what to expect going into book 2! Luckily, Adib Khorram was kind enough to answer our questions. Scroll down for the Q&A! A Q&A with Adib Khorram! Q: We … Continued
See More

9 Authors who absolutely cannot wait for The Beautiful!

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh is hitting shelves in just a couple of weeks, and there are a few beloved YA authors who have some early tickets to the hype train 🌹📚   From Queen Marie Lu,   To the amazing Sarah Nicole Lemon! “And to think I read it as a Word doc. I feel so … Continued
See More

12 Things to Remember About The Brilliant Death Before You Start Reading The Storm of Life

We are SO excited that The Storm of Life is officially on shelves! But in case you need a quick refresher since reading The Brilliant Death, we asked author Amy Rose Capetta to recap the major stuff! Read her recap below! 1. Teodora di Sangro is a strega. A strega is a witchy-type of person, each one with a … Continued
See More

Plotting with Rosaria Munda

If you’ve been paying attention to the goings on of YA, you’ve probably have noticed a whole lot of chatter about the amazingness that is Fireborne by Rosaria Munda. Between the dragons, political intrigue, and wildly complex relationships of characters that had our hearts absolutely aching, Rosaria Munda pretty much captivated fantasy shelves everywhere. And that’s why we decided to … Continued
See More

Penguin Teen on Tour!

Not one, not two, but THREE internationally bestselling authors are coming together for the book tour of a lifetime! From historical fantasy, to royal intrigue, to dystopian survival, authors Marie Lu, Melissa de la Cruz, and Astrid Scholte are ready to celebrate some of 2020’s biggest books, and you’re invited! Check below to see if they’re coming … Continued
See More

Rosaria Munda’s Fantasy Book Recs!

Fireborne is Rosaria Munda’s thrilling fantasy debut. In case you’re new to this Game of Thrones meets Harry Potter fantasy you’ve always needed in your life story, here’s a bit about the book! About Fireborne: Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing … Continued
See More