If you want to turn this into a drinking game:
Drink if you see the same name used again
Drink if the character’s name provides a major plot point
Drink if there’s some quirky or interesting story behind a character’s name/nickname
Drink if the character is named after food
Drink if the character is named after an animal
Drink if the character’s nickname has nothing to do with their full name
Drink if the character’s name is highly unlikely for their age group
I, Wolf by Matt Boyd
A werewolf story. The hero is called Romy, short for Romulus (DRINK!), and he’s an Australian boy who has to move to Austria for health reasons. His love interest is Antonia, and friends are Dimitri and Nat.
One of my pet peeves is when the character’s name tells you what’s going to happen. However, after reading endless teen fiction where the heroine has some boyish nickname like Alex or Bill or George, it’s refreshing to read one where the hero has a nickname more common for girls.
Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
Heroine is Holly, a young social worker – her nickname is Holier-than-Thou (DRINK!). Her boyfriend is Tim, but she has unresolved feelings for her friend Liam, and finds herself attracted to a colleague, Nick (nicknamed Nickolarse).
The Roxy Ran series by Tiffany Hall
Roxy Ran is a teenage ninja, initiated into the mysteries of the Tiger Scrolls or something by Jackson Axe, who has a brother named Morgan. Roxy’s big sister is Electra (a samurai), and her friend is Cinnamon (DRINK!). The school bully’s name is Hero, which is a major plot point give away (DRINK!).
The Elly Pickering books by Wendy Harmer
The heroine is Eleanor “Elly” Pickering, who has a big sister named Matilda “Tilly“. Her friends are Carmelita and Rosie, while the popular “mean girl” is called Bianca, and love interest is a boy named Tyler. In one book, Elly gets a job which brings her into proximity with a Hollywood teen heart throb called Jake Blake.
For some reason Biancas are often unpleasant in fiction. I had an issue with movie star Jake Blake – it reminded me too strongly of Jack Black, so although he is meant to be a Zac-Efrony sort of guy, I was picturing something far different.
I’ll Tell You Mine by Pip Harry
Kate is the heroine, an upper middle class Goth teenager at boarding school. Her best friend is Maddy, and Maddy’s brother Lachy provides a love interest.
I have an aversion to heroines named some version of Katherine, but my very least favourite is Kate. It shows such a massive lack of imagination that I fear for the rest of the book.
And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst
Madeleine “Maddie” (DRINK!) Cost is a teenage artist trying to win the Archibald Prize by painting her gorgeous and famous cross-dressing actor cousin Tyler (DRINK!). But forget most of that plot, as the book is actually about an alien invasion in central Sydney. The love interest is a science nerd named Fisher “Fish” (DRINK!) Charteris, and best friend a girl named Noi (a Thai name).
There’s a cast of dozens in this book. Most of them have nicknames, some of which are creative, such as a boy named Lee, who is called Pan (DRINK!) for the fairly unlikely reason he resembles the god Pan (DRINK!). You just know you’ve sent your kid to a superior school when their playground nickname is a Greek god.
The Mosquito Advertising books by Kate Hunter
Brisbane teenagers run an advertising agency. Heroine is Katie Crisp (DRINK!), and others on her team are best friend Lorraine Crabbe (DRINK!), neighbour Joel Maguire and his cousin Dominic Pyne-Davies, arty Clementine Bailey (DRINK!), and “bad girl” Jasmine Jolley. Katie’s mum is Vanessa, and Lorraine’s is Pippa (DRINK!). Clementine belongs to a brilliant family, and has siblings named James, Cordelia, Evangeline, Rupert, and Nathaniel. Dominic has twin little sisters named Janie and Susan (DRINK! DRINK!). Jasmine has big brothers named Eli and Byron who are famous rock musicians. Katie’s aunt and Vanessa’s sister is named Nancy (DRINK!).
Not only a variation of Katherine, but a variant of the author’s own name, which seems particularly lazy. The names are all of out of synch: a teenager named Lorraine, little girls named Janie and Susan, and a youngish aunt named Nancy, sister to Vanessa!
Divine Clementine by Hayley S. Kirk
Teenager Clementine (DRINK!) Footner falls apart when her beloved aunt Stella (DRINK!) dies (Stella is not much older than Clementine and is like a big sister). There’s also an aunt named Penny, an uncle named Dorian, and a niece named Auggie; friend is Thom.
The family is quite ahead of the curve, so look out for girls named Auggie in the future.
The Tribe series by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Set in a dystopian future world informed by the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime. The heroine of the first book is Ashala Jane (DRINK!) Ambrose, otherwise known as Ashala Wolf (DRINK! DRINK!). Her friends are Ember Crow (DRINK!) and Georgie Spider (DRINK!), and they lead a tribe of environmentally-aware children. Love interest is Justin Connor – called by his surname – and Ember’s boyfriend is Jules ; the baddies are Neville Rose and Dr Miriam Grey.
It makes sense that everyone is still using the same names three hundred years in the future, as society broke down right about now. I do like Ashala, but it bothers me that she is called Wolf as a tribal name in Australia – we don’t have wolves!
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
A vampire satire set in a town in Maine where humans and vampires live side by side: the vampires are immigrants to the US. The heroine is Mel (DRINK!), her best friends are Cathy (DRINK!) and Anna, and the vampire is Francis Duvarney (DRINK!). Mel’s love interest is a boy called Kit, whose name is short for Kitten (DRINK!) – it’s a long story (DRINK!).
You might chuckle over a vampire named Duvarney, because of the Victorian pulp-fiction classic, “Varney the Vampire”. Mel and Cathy are remarkably dated for teenagers; they seem very 1970s to me, as an Anna who went to school with about eighty Mels and Cathys (it feels like).
Losing It by Julia Lawrinson
Four 17-year-old best friends vow to lose their virginity before the end of the final school year, American Pie style. The girls are Zoe, Bree, Mala, and Abby. Abby has a brother named Zeke, and Mala has a cousin named Mo. The girls’ male friend is Matty.
Mala and Mo are from a different ethnicity, but it is never said what it is, although Mala is an Indian name, and Mo might be short for Mohandas?
The Convent by Maureen McCarthy
Set in the historic Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne, and based on the author’s own family history. It starts during World War I, when Sadie is forced to relinquish her daughter Ellen, who is brought up by the nuns at the convent. In the 1960s, Ellen’s only daughter Cecilia takes the veil at the convent and becomes Sister Annuniciata, and Cecilia’s daughter is Perpetua, called Peach (DRINK! DRINK!). Peach also has a connection with the convent, as she works at the arts centre now housed in its buildings. Peach’s sister is Stella (DRINK!), and her best friends are Cassie and Det.
It makes sense that great-grandmother’s name is popular again now, and also that a nun’s daughter should be given a saint’s name.
The Colours of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty
A fantasy series about teenager Madeleine Tully (DRINK!), who ran away from a world of opulence to live a simple life in Cambridge, England with her mother Holly (DRINK!). Madeleine’s best friends are Jack (an admirer) and Belle, but she has a pen-friend named Elliot Baranski in a parallel universe. Can anyone else guess that poor Jack does not stand a chance against a farm boy from a parallel universe who is heading a crew of loyal rebels?
I liked the way that people in the parallel universe had much the same names as we do – Elliot’s friends are Samuel and Keira, and his love interest is Kala. The princess is named Ko, but then she’s royalty. They like the letter K in the parallel universe.
Friday Brown by Vicki Wakefield
Liliane Brown is nicknamed Friday by her mother Vivienne because of a family curse that she will die on a Saturday (DRINK! DRINK!). Friday becomes a runaway street kid, and makes friends with a mute boy called Silence (DRINK!), and comes under the control of charismatic but unlikable young woman named Arden. The other street kids are AiAi, Darcy (female), Joe, Carrie, Bree (DRINK!), and Malik. The love interest is a boy named Wish (DRINK!).
Love-Shy by Lili Wilkinson
Penny (DRINK!) Drummond is a neurotic over-achieving student journalist, and she takes on a project of investigating/fixing a boy at her school named Nick (DRINK!) Rammage. Her friends are Rin and Hamish, who she tries to match up together. Other classmates are Rory, James (DRINK!), Clayton, Perry, Arabella, and Max. Penny’s dad is gay, and his partner is Josh.
Did you read all these? Respect if so. I’d have been numbed by just the synopses if it weren’t for the name interest and the drinks.
Sorry if it was very boring – I didn’t read all the books in a series, just the first one, and sometimes I only skimmed through that.
The post wasn’t boring, I’m just cynical about teenage books being samey. Which is hypocritical, since most of the books I’ve read recently have been pretty similar!
They do get a bit samey after a while – and we need a moratorium on heroines named Madeleine! And characters named after animals and food.