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Top Ten Kick-A** Heroines of YA

A little while ago, bookshelvesofdoom pointed out an article in the Guardian in which Joanne Harris lists her top ten kids books with kick-a** heroines. It got me to thinking on my favorite tough girls of YA lit and why they rock. So I compiled my own list and here they are in alphabetical order by first name. WARNING: Here be spoilers. Some minor, some major. Proceed at your own risk.

Aerin
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Because she's Lady Aerin, Dragon-Killer. Aerin teaches herself how to ride a warhorse, wield a sword, slay dragons, and save her homeland. She makes the right choices, even when those choices are unbearably difficult to make.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: Burned by dragon fire inside and out, Aerin climbs up on the head of the great dragon Maur and plunges her knife right through his freaking eye.



Alanna of Trebond
Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Because she's the first female knight in more than 100 years. Alanna disguises herself as a boy, trades places with her twin brother, and goes to the palace to become a knight. Later known as the Lioness, she learns to face her fears and embrace the fact that she is both a woman and a knight.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: In order to save her dying prince, Alanna risks losing everything she has fought for. Entering into a battle of wills with the god of Death, she refuses to let him take her best friend.




Dicey Tillerman
The Tillerman Cycle by Cynthia Voigt

Because she's fierce and determined in the face of terrible odds. The oldest of four siblings abandoned by their parents, Dicey takes responsibility for what's left of her family guiding them on a long journey in search of a place they can call home. Dicey takes her knocks standing up.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: After her grandmother turns Dicey and her siblings away at the door, Dicey refuses to take no for an answer. She comes up with and carries out a plan to make them so indispensable that the old bat won't be able to let them go.



Enna
Enna Burning
by Shannon Hale
Because she burns. Literally. Enna can set whole armies on fire. And does. Several times. Not perfect and not a princess, she's just a girl who loves to laugh and fights for her country. Enna goes through a lot of pain before coming to terms with the consequences of burning. But she comes to terms with a vengeance.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: On the brink of losing control and burning herself up, Enna forces herself to harness the fire to help her best friend Isi, and the two of them risk their lives to save each other.



Harry Crewe
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Because she's Damalur-Sol, Lady Hero. Because her name is Angharad and she refuses to go by anything but Harry. She's tall and awkward and strong and she doesn't give in to domineering kings who try to manipulate her with their freakish yellow eyes.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: In a last-ditch attempt to fend off the marauding Northerners, Harry climbs to the highest point around, calls on the power of the Blue Sword and the Lady Aerin, and brings the entire mountain down on the opposing army.


Hermione Granger
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Because she is unafraid to be smart, uses her brain to solve her problems, and the idea for Dumbledore's Army was hers alone. Hermione is kind. And she never, never deserts Harry. She says what she thinks and doesn't care if it's popular or not.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: Fed up with Malfoy continually getting away with his dastardly business, Hermione finally does what's needed to be done for three books: loses her cool, steps past Harry and Ron, and hauls off and punches the little weasel in the face.



Meg Murry
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Because she gets defensive and prickly when she's frightened and unsure. Meg is great at math and clumsy in groups. Traveling through time and space to save her little brother, her special power isn't physical strength but simply an ability to see clearly when all light is gone.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: Accepting her father's and her own mortality and fallibility, Meg alone stares into the face of evil incarnate and manages to rescue her brother, not by outwitting IT, but by loving Charles Wallace and by not letting go.



Meredith Shale
Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
Because she's a survivor. Meredith lives through nightmares unimaginable, more than any 15-year-old should ever have to live through. And when the law lets the nightmare right back into her house, she doesn't crumble and succumb. She fights. She fights and saves herself.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: Pushed beyond the brink of endurance and about to see the unthinkable happen again, Meredith settles back into a batter's stance and, with one mighty swing, bashes Andy's statue of the Virgin Mary over the monster's head.



Mickle
The Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander
Because she's the Beggar Queen. Raised by a cutthroat and trained as a thief, Mickle can throw her voice across a room and eschews satin and jewels in favor of her customary shirt and breeches. As comfortable dicing with pickpockets as running the government, she knows when to hold on tight. And she knows when to let go.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: Her political hands tied and her country on the brink of collapse, Queen Mickle steps down. After going into hiding, she proceeds to quietly mount a rebellion to overthrow the new government in order to save the country and the people she loves.


Val Russell
Valiant by Holly Black
Because she's Prince Valiant and she swings a crystal sword. An angry angsty girl faced with the ultimate betrayal, Val makes some pretty bad choices. But
when a true friend is in need she's able to dig herself out by the skin of her teeth. Determined to overcome her addictions, she puts her friend before herself and fights to save him.

Favorite Kick-A** Moment: When she realizes the man who put a sword in her hand and showed her how to use it is about to be executed for a crime he didn't commit, Val hunts down the real killer, exposes her in front of the entire faery court, and defeats her in the first real sword fight of her life.

Comments

  1. Wow I agree with all your choices! good list!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Hannah! Good to hear they ring true with someone else.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awsome choices! you got some of my favorites and also a couple I haven't read yet! I'm gonna have to look them up now! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous8:48 PM

    Thanks for the list. I've read half and will be checking the rest out soon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great and inspiring choices! You are making me want to read now instead of writing - shame on you!!
    But these authors all did a good job with their young women...
    Kaza Kingsley
    Author of the Erec Rex series
    http://www.erecrex.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kirsten and Sprite, I'd be interested to hear what you think when you're done with the ones you haven't read yet. I'd give a lot to be able to read some of them again for the first time. ;)

    Kaza, I agree. And now I need to go check out your Erec Rex series. They look like much fun.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous11:23 AM

    What about Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird?
    Hmmm.
    But otherwise - perfection.

    ReplyDelete

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