I feel like every book blogger has That One Issue that concerns them most when it comes to books. For some, it’s representation, for others, it’s diversity, disability etc. For me, it’s all about the female characters.
These days, the term strong female character has become quite popular. But popularity often brings misinterpretation with it. When someone mentions strong female characters, they most often follow up with Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior. Which, yes, they are. But — and that is a BIG but — NOT because they can kick ass. And shoot people in the faces. While jumping off buildings. They are strong female characters because they have strong personalities. They have a presence.
I enjoy kick-ass heroines as much as the next girl, I do. But what I appreciate even more is the kind of heroine that is allowed to like dresses and pretty things, to be silly and eat entire boxes of chocolate while daydreaming of prince charming, to be addicted to pretty shoes and expensive handbags, to feel pretty and confident. Without being labelled nasty and vain and a slut. Or be considered weak.
Because they aren’t. And in order to prove that, I bring you ten incredible female authors who write the most amazing, loveable and strong female characters I have ever encountered in books. Each strong in their own special way. Because as Liz Sutton once so wisely said: “What is a Gallagher Girl? She’s a genius, a scientist, a heroine, a spy… a Gallagher Girl is whatever she wants to be.” I think that applies to any girl. Don’t you?
10. Marissa Meyer
I may still not done with the Lunar Chronicles but sometimes you just know that something is going to be your kind of thing. Such as in this case. By 2017, we have seen quite a variety of fairy tale princesses, whose stories got retold, revamped, remade. Marissa Meyer captured me with the premises of fairy tales in space. But what made me stay is how she portrays the heroines of those tales. While staying true to their origins. Quirky, different, unforgettable. They’re a handful, that’s for sure.
My personal favourite: Scarlet | Add on Goodreads | YA, sci-fi, fairytale retelling
9. Patricia Briggs
Patricia Briggs had me at first Mercy Thompson book. Particularly because of Mercy herself. Urban fantasy heroines tend to be similar to each other, as part of the genre. Kick-ass, sarcastic, loyal, special. But Mercy… Mercy is different. Mercy doesn’t want to fight, or to kill. She even tries to stay away from any kind of trouble and is content to live a peaceful life, working on old VW cars. Sadly, supernatural trouble always manages to find her anyway. And it’s how she deals with it that truly makes her one of my favourite heroines. But it’s not just Mercy either. Both the main series and the spin-off boast a variety of females, each with a distinct personality, each struggling one way or another. In a world of pack hierarchy and vampire politics, it isn’t easy being a female…
My personal favourite: Mercy Thompson series | Add on Goodreads | Adult, urban fantasy, werewolves, fae, vampires
8. Ilona Andrews
I’ve recently reviewed the Edge series and once again was reminded just how much I love Ilona Andrews’ characters, particularly females. Now, I could go on and on about Kate Daniels and Andrea Nash, because those ladies certainly count as strong on so many levels but… I thought that for this post it would be more appropriate to talk about the females of her more romance-y novels. Because in my experience, that is the genre that is sadly populated with one-dimensional females. Never with Ilona Andrews. From independent distrustful Rose to elegant mature Charlotte, Andrews once again manages to make her incredible action and romance packed plots that much more awesome with her leading ladies. Good thing the males known just what they’re signing up for.
My personal favourite: Fate’s Edge | Add on Goodreads | Adult, paranormal romance, magic
7. Kelley Armstrong
What I love most about Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld women is how mature they feel. No teenage angst, no teenage naivety. There is nothing wrong with those traits, of course, but it is so refreshing to read about someone more experienced and worn out by life. Someone who navigates relationships like an adult. Someone who is a mother. And what Kelley Armstrong does very well in this particular series is to focus on women, rather than men. They are the ones who act, who decide, and who sacrifice. They are werewolves and witches and half-demons. They are heroines. And very incredible ones at that.
My personal favourite: Bitten | Add on Goodreads | Adult, paranormal romance, werewolves
6. Karen Marie Moning
As with Ilona Andrews, I could go on and on about Fever series. But I do that enough as it is and Fever doesn’t have that many females in it. Because Fever is a story of Mac, who is quite a heroine indeed and goes through such a transformation from southern belle to a monster comfortable in her own skin. But, this isn’t about Fever. (Shocking, I know.) And Moning has quite a few different females in her Highlander series. They aren’t perfect and some of them had me face-palming a time or two. But. They are ridiculously adorable, and memorable, and cute. Mothers, and lovers, and wives they may be, but they will never consent to sit on the sidelines, no matter how Alpha their partners are.
My personal favourite: The Dark Highlander | Add on Goodreads | Adult, historical romance, time-travel
5. Ally Carter
At first, both Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series seem like the kind of YA books that play with the very old and very used not-like-other-girls trope. Because both Kat and Cammie are the kinds of girls that are overlooked in terms of looks. They blend into the background and generally shy away from attention. But first glances are deceiving. And there is nothing remotely trope-y about Carter’s girls. In fact, her books celebrate every kind of female, from ones aspiring to take the 00 title from James Bond to gorgeous daughters of wealthy politicians. Most importantly, though, they celebrate the friendship between those complex species. Because female friendship is one of those things that I appreciate more than plot, more than worldbuilding, even more than writing. (Though Ally Carter is also good at all those.) Female friendship is such a precious rare thing, particularly in YA. And Ally Carter excels at it. While also excelling at creating the most precious girls to lead these heart-warming stories.
My personal favourite: Heist Society | Add on Goodreads | YA, contemporary, thieves
4. Kay Hooper
My relationship with Kay Hooper is limited solely to Bishop/SCU series but that series is more than enough to show me all I need to know. It deals with a bunch of different psychics, both male and female, who solve the gruesomest of crimes committed by serial killers. And those abilities do not come without emotional baggage. What I like most, however, is the seamless, wonderful role-reversal: the females of the series often take the centre stage and most of the action, and the males, while fully capable of kicking ass, provide a much needed emotional support. It’s refreshing, it’s fantastic, and I love it.
My personal favourite: Out of The Shadows | Add on Goodreads | Adult, paranormal, suspense, crime
3. Sarah J. Maas
For the longest time, I was a fool and refused to read a single Sarah J. Maas book because some reviews painted her heroines as terrible. Thank the universe I am a curious fool! Because as it turns out, about 90% of said female characters make me think one thing only: queens. I don’t think I have ever been in love with a female protagonist as much as I am with Celaena Sardothien. She’s exactly my kind of heroine: kick-ass and sarcastic, but also girly and very much aware of sacrifices and consequences. And she makes mistakes and learns. But, of course, it isn’t just Celaena. Maas’ books are filled with females of all kind, of every variety. Honestly, I couldn’t even pick a favourite. There are just so many, so very many. There’s the ever heartless Manon, fiery Aelin, awe-inspiring Morrigan, tiny ancient Amren, most gorgeous Lysandra… Sarah J. Maas is the queen. And so are her girls and her women. Because that’s what her books are all about: the journey from girl to woman. And that, to me, is most precious.
My personal favourite: Throne of Glass | Add on Goodreads | YA, fantasy, fae
2. Nora Roberts
There is a reason Nora Roberts is such a successful author. There is a reason her romances are loved around the world. For me, that reason is her female characters. Especially in romantic suspense novels. They all are vastly different in personalities, ranging from independent solitary archaeologists to betrayed single mothers, but they all have spines of steel. More than that, they are the kind of females who value female friendships – or any kind of friendships, really – above all else. And to me, that is the absolute favourite thing in any Nora Roberts book. If there is one thing she always, always has me at, it’s the bonds. Familial, friendly, romantic.
My personal favourite: The Liar | Add on Goodreads | Adult, romantic suspense
1. Julie James
I will never, ever tire of singing praises to Julie James. For me, she is the queen of contemporary romance, both because of the romance and because of her female characters. The women she creates are confident, pretty, and incredibly inspiring. But they are not, by any means, perfect. Because nobody is. Seeing their emotional and professional struggles, their platonic and romantic relationships, their choices and sacrifices… Each Julie James books is an absolute treat. Every heroine of hers is bound to become my favourite. And not just because I connect to them on a spiritual level born from our mutual love of high heels. (Another thing to adore about her books is how the males view said incredible females. That is a treat on its own, honestly.)
My personal favourite: A Lot Like Love | Add on Goodreads | Adult, contemporary romance
What’s your idea of a strong female character? Which authors do you trust to create your kind of females? And which female of theirs is your absolute favourite?