Bookstr’s Picks: Literary Mean Girls That Can’t Sit With Us

Do you have any ‘mean girl’ characters you love to loathe? Check out this article for Bookstr’s picks for the best mean girls in fiction.

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Whether you are reading a teen romantic comedy, a creepy Southern thriller, or an epic fantasy adventure, there are always the characters we love to hate. They don’t necessarily have to be the story’s ‘big bad,’ but they can just be annoying or cruel enough to fuel our ire. In other words, they’re mean girls and they can’t sit with us.

Mean girls have been a subject of scrutiny in film and literature well before the 2004 release of the cult classic film. While male characters in most genres have permission to be angry or rude because of some tragic backstory, women who display those same traits are often vilified. It is unclear if this double standard is the result of misogyny, or if the average reader simply wishes comeuppance for the characters who make the protagonist’s life harder. Readers may even wish for these characters to be personally victimized as proxies for the bullies in their own lives.

Punished or unscathed, catty or downright murderous, we at Bookstr love our meanies in every form, so we asked our ‘fetch’ staff to share some of their favorite literary mean girls.

Veronica Lodge, Archie Comics by John L. Goldwater


Veronica Lodge from the Archie Comics series is the quintessential mean-girl archetype. Riverdale’s “privileged princess” loves sabotaging Betty, entangling Archie and Reggie in her web, flaunting her wealth, and, of course, shopping. She’s arrogant, self-absorbed, and catty, everything we love to hate in a character!

– Madison Weir, Editorial

Rebecca de Winter, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier


Through the unreliable narration of the novel’s mousy lead, Rebecca is the seductive specter that permeates the halls of Manderley Manor. Others characters describe her as quick-witted, promiscuous, and just downright mean. Her rebellious nature served as a direct hit, not only to Maxim’s fragile ego, but to the status quo within the novel’s 20th century setting. She was also the direct foil to the second Mrs. de Winter, who strived to be the perfect wife. It will always be questioned whether or not Rebecca was the true villain of the story. Still, her ability to strike fear into the hearts of her opposers, even from beyond the grave, is a notable feat.

– Tynea Swinton, Editorial

Isabel Culpeper, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater


Isabel is the definition of mean girl. She’s pretty, she’s rude, she’s bossy, and she somewhat despises everyone around her. That being said, she’s also ambitious, determined, clever, and cares for those around her deeply. She hides her vulnerabilities behind a mask of sarcasm and rude comments, but Isabel is human just like the rest of us. She’s one of the most realistic characters, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Over the course of the series, Isabel slowly learns that being vulnerable isn’t a weakness, and despite her rude demeanor, she’s an admirable character that later becomes one of the most raw, authentic, beloved characters, letting all the readers know it’s okay to be imperfect sometimes, and we don’t have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.

– Alexandra Mellott, Editorial

Ianthe, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas


Of the romantasy variety, Ianthe wears the Mean Girl Crown. She is shallow, two-faced, and can’t see further than the end of her nose— which is quintessential Mean Girl persona. Not only does she falsely befriend Feyre, adding to her misery, but she has no loyalty other than to herself. So long as the partnership benefits herself, she’ll keep up appearances. There was never any love for Ianthe from the beginning, Maas wrote her in a way that immediately caused suspicion. I was rooting for her downfall when the first betrayal hit, and when it did, I sighed in satisfaction.

– Kristi Eskew, Editorial

Margo Hanson, The Magicians Series by Lev Grossman


Margo is a “mean girl” with substance, and I love that about her. Margo doesn’t take nonsense and is strong-willed but can be a bit stubborn. She knows how to work the room and when to take charge, and I believe, earned her place in the Fillory Court. Margo also has a strong loyalty to those she holds close and will make sure they are safe. Although the heavy substance abuse and hazing of others cannot go ignored, I consider it character development.

– Jhade Gales, Graphics

Sam Kingston, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


When Mark Waters’ teen comedy film Mean Girls came out in 2004, I was just a toddler… naturally, I grew up as a Cady Heron-fan girl who cheered everytime I watched Regina George get hit by that miraculous school bus. But what about the mean girls we end up rooting for? In the opening pages of Before I Fall, high school senior Sam Kingston is shallow, stuck-up, and mean. Because of her popularity, she’s almost certain she can say anything and do anything without consequences. At least until she dies in a car accident.

When she wakes up the next morning only to find out she must relive the same day over and over again, juggling the teenage complexities of vicious mean girls, rapidly changing hormones, and withering self-confidence, Sam begins to understand the consequences of her former behavior. By the end of the novel, readers find themselves hoping that Sam can fix her mistakes, redeem her relationships, and find peace in the afterlife. Everyone loves a villain capable of change!

– Cailey Scott, Editorial

Zoya Nazyalensky, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Zoya is a phenomenal character in the Grishaverse because while she is loathed by many readers when first introduced in Shadow and Bone, she eventually becomes a fan favorite by the end of Rule of Wolves. Zoya is initially presented as a talented Grisha who is jealous of Alina Starkov’s powers, as Zoya is no longer the Darkling’s favorite. The two trade barbs and engage in physical fights, and Zoya is even involved in multiple trysts with Alina’s lover, Mal.

However, Zoya soon becomes a valuable ally and friend to Alina, and once Zoya becomes a protagonist in her own story, she connects with others and grows in her power to become a hero, saint, and queen. While she may be a reformed mean girl in some narratives, sometimes a change in perspective is needed to better understand the behavior of others.

– Cara Hadden, Editorial

Amma Crellin, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn


Let’s just say I’ve never been more terrified and more unnerved by a thirteen year old girl! Amma Crellin is the ringleader of a troop of unruly teens in a small Missouri town in Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects. Her interactions with her older sister (and the novel’s protagonist), Camille, have haunted me for years. No doubt, the mean girl trope can always create a notable villain, but I appreciate how Amma is never reduced to just a stock character. She’s vindictive and cruel, sure, but she’s also strangely complicated, unreadable, and unpredictable. Above all, I think that her unsettling presence in the novel sparks a crucial question: What creates a mean girl in the first place?

– Erin Shea, Editorial

Do you agree with our picks? Do you prefer a mean girl who changes for the better or stays evil? Let us know!

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