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How to Analyze Male Characters in Book Reviews

Justina Ireland

Staff Writer

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows both currently available from Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. Her essay “Me, Some Random Guy, and the Army of Darkness” is in the forthcoming The V-Word, an anthology of personal essays by women about having sex for the first time, published by Beyond Words (S&S). Blog: Justina Ireland Twitter: @tehawesomersace

If you fall down the rabbit hole of book reviews it’s hard not to notice some…trends when it comes to the way female characters are reviewed in comparison to male characters. And that just really isn’t fair. Shouldn’t male characters get the same close, critical analysis as female characters? Equality demands it!


  • Was the book good? Make sure you mention that it was a good “for a book with a male character.” Specificity is your friend.
  • Mention how you’d never normally be interested in a book with a male main character, just in case anyone doubts your dedication to unbiased reviewing.
  • Explain how unlikeable the male character was, especially if he made decisions you didn’t agree with or go against established social norms.
  • If a male character complains or has a deep emotional response to an event, for example the death of a loved one, make sure to point out how whiny he is and how he should just “get over” said event, even if the point of the book is his grief. Especially then.
  • When a male character has agency throughout the story, point out how strong he is. But make sure to also discuss when his ability to make decisions became annoying. Because it always does.
  • Indicate how many men there are in the book. How many male characters does a book need, anyway? What is this, some kind of pro-male agenda?
  • If a male character makes a single decision for himself without consulting every other character in the book discuss how selfish he is, especially if he puts himself first like a normal human being.
  • Should a male character have more than three lines of dialogue point out how exhausting it was to always read about his character. So much talking, male character!
  • When a male character is overweight make sure to point out how unlikely it would be for him to have friends or a love interest. Why is he even in this book, anyway? Gross.
  • If nothing bad happens to the male character, especially some kind of sexual violence, discuss what a special snowflake the male character is. Bad things should happen to characters, especially male ones. Otherwise, what’s the point of the story?
  • When a male character has any kind of romantic contact with more than one person he is a slut and should be branded as such. Especially if he initiates the romantic contact and it is not with a spouse or the love of his life or his soul mate. Have some self-respect, male character!
  • If a female character in the story has feelings for the male character, point out what a jerk the male character was for not reciprocating. He should be more appreciative of people wanting him.
  • If the male character is an intelligent secondary character point out what an arrogant Know-It-All he was, always telling the main character what to do. Ugh, and why is he talking again, anyway?

    So, what other advice would you give for making sure that male characters get the same close, critical analysis that female characters get?


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