Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fiesty, Fierce, Flawed: My Favorite YA Female Heroines

With all the talk about Divergent recently with the movie release, and the inevitable The Hunger Games comparisons, I've had strong heroines on the brain. And in my constant search to talk about different things here, I realized I've never done something like this. I don't participate in Top Ten Tuesday, when I see a lot of lists--and this probably exists with that--I decided to throw in my two cents. :) In no particular order, here are my favorite YA female characters of all time:

I mean, what list of strong female characters could be complete without Elisa? She's got this amazing arc over the series, going from a chubby, insecure eater of bonbons who whines without taking action to badass empress who not only has confidence in her body, abilities, and intelligence, but she wields them all flawlessly to save the people of a country that she wasn't even born in (and who still loves her bonbons, obviously.) What's not to love?

(I tried to put the hyphen in, but it looked crazy. I totally know it's not there.) Persis is seriously the coolest. An aristocrat who moonlights as the Wild Poppy, a rebel who sneaks refugees from her neighboring island country to save them from torture, she spends her days flitting about, hiding her true identity under her frivolous reputation. She's highly intelligent and sacrifices her safety and comfort to help those who need it.

I couldn't decided on a queen, so I picked them both! Even though two of the books are named after the male characters (and I love them too), it's the women than stand out. Isaboe, especially later, is the queen Lumatere needs, ruling firmly but with compassion and a sensitivity to the plight of her people. Quintana is the definition of fierce, snarling and rude, even. She survives in the most adverse of circumstances and rises above them to become stronger.

It's always interesting to see a character thrown into a world completely different from their own, especially one they've been told will kill them--and quickly. Aria begins the series as a scared girl who has just left the only home she's ever known, a pod where most of her time was spent in a digital landscape, and she's thrust into a very real world filled with people she regards as savages and aether storms that threaten to kill her at every turn. But by the end of the series she's a leader who is able not only to help those she grew up loving but her new family as well. She's compassionate and selfless, a character willing to endanger herself to help others, even those she doesn't like.

Now, admittedly, I haven't read Horde yet, but that does not change my opinion on Deuce. Originally solely focused on her role as Huntress in her enclave, through experience above she learns the value of compassion for others and the power of the love of a family. She develops (is developing?) into a character who listens to her guts--though she may act without thinking sometimes--and who finally can understand other's feelings. But she's still tough as nails and can kill you as easily as look at you.

Another series filled with awesome women! All very different but interesting and awesome all the same. Katsa is feared by most because her "Grace" is killing, Fire is reviled because she ensnares people with her beauty, and Bitterblue is the daughter of Leck, a king who ruled with might and cruelty, and now she has to lead a country even though she feels trapped by her responsibilities. Two are physically strong, one is mentally strong.

Can't forget the fairy tale girls! It's been such a joy seeing Cinder become a leader as she learns and comes to accept who she is and what she's destined to do. I almost didn't include Scarlet here, but after what happens to her in Cress, that girl deserves a spot. It's hard to see characters you care about endure such hardship, but she proves her mettle and becomes much more through her unbreakable will. Gotta love a girl who loves her grandmother, anyways. I just love Cress's quiet strength. She's not physically strong and she's inexperienced, but she uses her skills and intelligence to prove herself vital.

In finishing this list, I realize there's no possible way it's exhaustive. I kept finding books with characters I know I loved, but who I can't remember, so I couldn't put them on here. (I could've made this longer, I suppose, but it's taking forever to make all those graphics!) I'm also sure there are plenty I missed. I love that YA has so many strong female characters that I know of too many to feasibly put on this list. So, this is simply a sampling of a few standouts in my mind. :)

Who are your favorite female characters in YA? Are any of mine on your list? 

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