YA fantasy author Jodi Baker pens today’s
guest post and EXCELLENT list.
You’re going to love this one!
My name is Jodi. I’m a Young Adult Fantasy author, and I’m obsessed with Kickass Heroines.
To me, a Kickass Heroine is not just smart, just magical, or just a strong physical fighter. They definitely aren’t impossibly perfect people who were born into the world as immediate superheroes. These girls don’t have easy lives and are rarely the chosen one.
Kickass Heroines are girls who learn to embrace who they are, and then choose to stand up for themselves and others. In doing so, they prove that ‘fighting like a girl’ is an oh-so-ferocious, connected, mind-heart-body evolutionary experience that forever changes them and those they come into contact with. Their stories invite all of us to embrace our own power, our quirks, and our perfectly imperfect selves, warts and all. These wonderful female characters are now found in all sort of challenging coming of age stories…which was not always the case. I’m happy to report that this was a difficult list to put together, but not because it was tough to find these types of characters in stories. It was actually hard to choose from a large pool of stunningly poignant and beautifully written options! One of the thrilling young adult literature gifts of this decade has been the exciting demand for stories about young women where the Heroine’s Journey is illuminated in all its glory.
My list contains a diverse group of young women from different spiritual, racial, political, cultural and economic backgrounds, but all of them are from fantasy stories since that’s the world I know and love best. There are witches, a scientist, a warrior, a fairy, a princess, a necromancer, an academic centurion, and a monster. Along with the publisher’s book synopsis, I’ve added my favorite Kickass Heroine Quote from each. All of these phenomenal characters inspired #10, which is my personal favorite, although I might be a tad biased…
Please add your favorite heroines and their quotes to the comments both here and on social media with the hashtag: #kickassheroines. Let’s make a thousand-title-long list of Kickass Heroine books together!
Alex, from Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova
“She ate the stars and swallowed the earth,
She is the girl with all the power.”
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland.
Feyre, from A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR), by Sarah J Maas
“I was not prey any longer,
I decided as I eased up to that door.
And I was not a mouse.
I was a wolf.”
As Feyre navigates the dark web of the Night Court’s politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and now that she has the powers of the High Fae, she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
Meg, from A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
“Meg, I give you your faults.”
“My faults!” Meg cried. “But I’m always trying to get rid of my faults!”
“Yes,” Mrs. Whatsit said. “However, I think you’ll find they’ll come in very handy on Camazotz.”
Fifty years ago, Madeleine L’Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe.
When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil―a journey that threatens their lives and our universe.
A Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time is an iconic novel that continues to inspire millions of fans around the world.
Tea, from The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco
“Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, rather than in what they expect you to be.”
When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha—one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.
Sunny, from Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
“We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities.”
Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
Tiffany, from Wee Free Men (Tiffany Aching Series), by Terry Pratchett
“…and all the stories had, somewhere, the witch. The wicked old witch.
And Tiffany had thought: Where’s the evidence?”
The first in a series of Discworld novels starring the young witch Tiffany Aching.
A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality. . . .Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle—aka the Wee Free Men—a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men. Together they must face headless horsemen, ferocious grimhounds, terrifying dreams come true, and ultimately the sinister Queen of the Elves herself. . . .
Cimorene, Dealing with Dragons, By Patricia Wrede
“Fencing is not proper behavior for a princess,” her father told her in the gentle-but-firm tone recommended by the court philosopher.
Cimorene tilted her head to one side. “Why not?”
“It’s … well, it’s simply not done.”
Cimorene considered. “Aren’t I a princess?”
“Yes, of course you are, my dear.”
“Well, I fence,” Cimorene said with the air of one delivering an unshakable argument. “So it is too done by a princess.”
Meet Princess Cimorene–a princess who refuses to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish smart…
So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul–one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons around. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince, and some very oily wizards.
Karou, from Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy), by Laini Taylor
“So,” he called to her back, “Just out of curiosity, you know, purely conversation and all, at what age will you be entertaining offers of marriage?”
“You think it’ll be so easy?” she called back over her shoulder. “No way. There will be tasks. Like in a fairy tale.”
“Very, so think twice.”
“No need,” he said. “You’re worth it.
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deeply of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Emma, from Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices Trilogy), by Cassandra Clare
“Women are fiercer by far than men.”
It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses. Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…
The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.
Anna, from Truth (Between Lions series), by Jodi Baker
“Yesterday, things happened to me. Today, I’m going to be the girl that happens to things.”
That’s what the voice inside Anna’s head kept repeating when she woke up between the infamous lion statues of the New York Public Library, with no idea how she got there and no memory of the last year of her life. The only person Anna ever trusted was her mother, who lied about everything. The voice inside her head knows things… like how to speak Ancient Sumerian, the fact that Yellow-Eyed people aren’t actually people, and that her mother’s Egyptian ankh necklace is the key to unlocking the truth:
Anna is the last in a long lineage of powerful women whose secrets date back to the ancient Library of Alexandria.
She’s fighting to stay alive. But survival comes at a steep cost when you’re being chased down a magical staircase by shape-shifting mythological creatures that want to kill you…
As a child, the only punishment Jodi ever feared was not being allowed her weekly visit to the library. At boarding school, though an enthusiastic student, her late night reading fests frequently made her late for first period. Now Jodi happily lives in Los Angeles, in a house lined with books instead of wallpaper, where she writes the ‘BETWEEN LIONS’ fantasy series that USAToday called “Must-Read YA”, and gives Youth Empowerment talks that inspire people to embrace their own, inner, ‘Kickass Heroine’!
You can read a free first chapter of Between Lions at jodibakerbooks.com and follow Jodi on Instagram & twitter @jodibakerbooks.