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!













What You Need to Know Before Reading Song of the Dead

by Sarah Glenn Marsh Watch Sarah Glenn Marsh explain the world of Reign of the Fallen and keep reading for a series recap!   What if Odessa’s secret ambition was to become a pastry chef? What if Evander and Jax kissed once before deciding they were much better off as friends? What if Lysander was … Continued
See More

5 Reasons You’re Going to Fall in Love with Reign of the Fallen

We’re about to knock you dead with the sequel to Sarah Glenn Marsh’s stunning fantasy series: Song of the Dead. So let’s get you caught up on the first book, Reign of the Fallen. Simply put? Diverse. Edgy. Not to mention, romantic. Need more reasons to get buried in this read? Here are our Top 5 reasons:   … Continued
See More

Here’s Everything You Missed During Ransom Riggs’ Reddit AMA

Fans joined in on the Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session with Ransom Riggs today to get the scoop on everything from A Map of Days release (OCTOBER 2!!!!) to the integrity of chocolate chip cookies. But if you missed it, don’t worry – we’ve pulled out the best answers including a VERY specific cookie preference … Continued
See More

Renée Ahdieh’s THE BEAUTIFUL has a cover and authors are HERE FOR IT

In case you’ve been living under a ROCK, let us catch you up: Renée Ahdieh is bringing vampires back to YA and IT’S ABOUT TIME.   Have you seen the trailer? You should watch the trailer. The Beautiful is a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide … Continued
See More

Bad Boys Brood, Bad Girls Are “Unlikeable”

By Julie C. Dao Picture this: a male anti-hero strutting onto the page, cape billowing, eyes burning, the perfect smolder on his lips as he lies, cheats, and kills. He wins us over with his careless smirk and well-placed sarcasm, and readers are eager to defend him when he performs terrible deeds. “There’s a reason … Continued
See More

Marie Lu Talks Warcross’ Emika Chen and reveal a new Wildcard teaser quote

We’re getting closer EVERY DAY to the Wildcard’s release and Marie Lu keeps giving us that teaser love! This week we’re talking all things Emika Chen – our beloved heroic girl in the middle of a world changing game. We asked Marie what fans could expect for Emika heading into Wildcard and her answer will … Continued
See More

Author Sarah Glenn Marsh Talks Life Lessons from the Undead

Raising the Dead: Vampires, Zombies, and Witches—Oh My! By Sarah Glenn Marsh   Nosferatu. Dracula. Lestat. Spike and Angel. Selene. Edward Cullen. Love them or hate them, you know their names. But have you ever thought about why? What is it about vampires that’s so fascinating and enduring that they’ve been winding up in our … Continued
See More

Amy Rose Capetta’s non-binary love story and definitions that could change lives

The Brilliant Death is a book about Teodora and Cielo, two characters who don’t fit in the box of “cis boy” or “cis girl”.   It’s a nonbinary love story. It is, in many ways, my story. But in the world of Vinalia, there are no words or definitions of gender outside of a limited … Continued
See More

All your favorite fantasy heroes are actually refugees

  By Natalie C. Anderson, author of City of Saints and Thieves and Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday.   All your favorite fantasy heroes are actually refugees   YA has never shied away from reflecting reality in all its beauty and brutality. Think contemporary classics like The Outsiders, Speak, or The Hate You Give. These books give us … Continued
See More

6 Authors You Need to Follow on Instagram Right Now

Because everyone needs something to balance out all the cat memes and obscure Instagram ads for sunblock, we’ve compiled a list of authors on Instagram to bring an extra dose of #writinglife to your feed.   Jenn Marie Thorne You may know Jenn for her lovable contemporary tales The Wrong Side of Right and The Inside of Out. But … Continued
See More