Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!
This week’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines. I am a big fan of kick-ass heroines, even when they’re “kick-ass” in not-so-obvious ways. So below you’ll find nine of my favorite heroines from various MG/YA books and/or series, and one from a rather popular adult fantasy series. Off we go!
Look, anyone who’s read The Mark of Athena knows what I’m talking about when I call Annabeth kick-ass. But her awesomeness started well before that book, namely when she decided to accompany a twelve-year-old Percy Jackson across the US in order to retrieve Zeus’ stolen Master Bolt. Annabeth is funny, determined, and stubborn, as well as ridiculously smart and analytical. She wields only a celestial bronze dagger, but manages to do just as much monster-smashing as Percy and the other demigods. She’s not without her faults – her fatal flaw gets her into trouble more than once – but she’s one tough cookie who isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes, even when it goes against her mother, the goddess Athena. While Percy is the main draw of Riordan’s books for me personally, without Annabeth I don’t think I’d enjoy them nearly as much.
Okay, so Hermione’s toughness could probably be summed up with that single scene in Deathly Hallows where she’s being tortured by Bellatrix. But, she’s pretty awesome throughout the entire series, even if I didn’t always agree with her methods. She slaps Malfoy, she confunds Cormac during Quidditch tryouts, she singlehandedly brews up Polyjuice potion in the girl’s bathroom, and she saves Harry and Ron from the Devil’s Snare at only eleven. She’s book smart, sure, but she also knows her way around magic, always seeming to know exactly what needs to happen. Plus she has a really awesome handbag. I KNOW I’m not the only one who’s jealous of that handbag!
Aside from the fact that I sort of wish I lived in Lyra’s world, where everyone has an animal companion, I adore Lyra because she’s not afraid to go against convention. She escapes from some truly frightening circumstances, and along with Will, goes through one of the most heart-breaking separations ever. With Will she braves some of the scariest places and situations, but she never gives up and continues to try to save the world, even knowing what the ultimate price is going to be. Sure she’s crass and uncouth, but she’s also a very deep-feeling character who has to suffer many losses, but still manages to keep going and keep fighting. I’ve only read His Dark Materials once through, but there are some things from those books that have stayed with me ever since, and much of that has to do with Lyra.
Lucy is kick-ass in a much different way than my first three choices. Lucy doesn’t start out being good with a weapon and she’s not tough in a physical sense. But Lucy has to deal with her siblings’ teasing and constant disbelief of her experience in Narnia, and through it all she maintains her belief that Narnia is real, and that she did indeed go there. Likewise, once all four Pevensies are actually IN Narnia, Lucy is the one that maintains the belief that they have to move forward and find Aslan. This is seen again in Prince Caspian, when Lucy is the only one to see Aslan at first, and has to keep her siblings moving forward until all of them finally see him as well. It’s not easy to stand against people you love, but Lucy does this time and again. And she does get pretty good with a weapon, thereby being “kick-ass” in the more usual sense, if the end of The Horse and His Boy is any indication.
Like Lucy, Sophie isn’t kick-ass in your usual sense. In fact, Sophie is quite timid and meek at the start of the book. It takes magic courtesy of The Witch of the Waste to make Sophie buck up and decide to do something proactive for once in her life. As the oldest daughter, she’s not the one who’s supposed to go on adventures, but that’s exactly what she does, seeking out her fortune in a most unusual way. Sophie withstands Howl’s green-ooze temper tantrums, and manages to stand up to the Witch, as well as saving Howl and Calcifer. Not too shabby for a girl who’s supposed to do only what she’s told! I love her spunk and pizzazz, her irritation with Howl’s aversion to cleaning, and the way she handles herself in seemingly impossible situations. Sophie definitely gets two thumbs up!
Abby grows up in a world where magic is the norm. But when it comes time for Abby to take her magic test, it’s discovered that she’s an “ord” – a child without any magic at all. Abby’s family helps her realize that she’s still special and that they love her, but that doesn’t mean things are easy for her. She’s sent away to a school for children like her (where her sister works), but along the way she’s kidnapped, her friends are stolen from her, and she has to face some truly terrifying things. Nonetheless, Abby keeps going, keeps fighting, and keeps learning how to exist in a world that doesn’t really want her or realize how special she and the other “ords” are. Abby has no special abilities, nothing that makes her fabulously strong, except her desire and personality, and the love of her family. It takes an enormous amount of courage to go on in a world that would rather pretend you don’t exist, and it’s this that – for me – makes Abby perhaps the most “kick-ass” of anyone on this list.
As seen from her famous quote – “But no living man am I!” – Eowyn is a truly feisty heroine. Throughout her uncle’s magical brainwashing, Eowyn continues to care for him and try to do her best for the people of Rohan. She knows how to handle a weapon, she’s stubborn, and unwilling to give up. She goes against her uncle’s orders when she rides to Minas Tirith and provides probably one of the greatest kick-ass moments in all of literature when she kills the Nazgul to try to save her uncle’s life. But she also has a quiet strength and leadership, and while she feels deeply and loves her family and her people, she’s willing to sacrifice her own life in order to save theirs. I’m glad Tolkien gave her a happy ending, because she definitely deserved it.
Kate is a wonderful character. She’s fiercely independent, stubborn, and tough. She’s resourceful, smart – even if it’s not in your typical way – and also deeply caring of those she considers her friends, and very loyal. She’s also extremely athletic, and manages to get herself and her friends in and out of some rather sticky situations. I loved how the author made Kate the physical one instead of one of the boys; it makes her stand out in a sea of other MG books. She’s also very funny, always ready with a comeback or quip, even when she doesn’t mean to make people laugh. While Reynie is my favorite MBS character, Kate is definitely a close second!
Just from the title of the book, it’s pretty obvious that Lucy isn’t going to have the easiest time of it. Not only does she have a thousands-year-old curse hanging over her, but she’s seen the effects of said curse on her own mother. Faced with three seemingly-impossible tasks that she must complete in order to break the curse, Lucy demonstrates a strength of will that’s pretty awesome to read about. Sure she has help – her adoptive parents, as well as the boy she’s in love with – but even with that assistance, much of what has to be done falls on Lucy herself. She’s singleminded in her determination to find a way to break the curse, and not only save her own life, but that of her daughter’s, and any others that come after her.
Okay, look, it’s hard to argue with the kick-assness of someone whose profession is an assassin nun. I mean, she hides crossbows in her skirts, and knows her way around fatal poisons! In fact, she’s immune to the fumes of said poisons! It’s difficult to get more physically kick-ass than that, right? But Ismae is also tough in other ways; she has to come to terms with her physical scars, as well as figure out her place in the world: whether she’s going to stand by her convent’s rules and declarations or follow her heart. As a daughter of death she has some phenomenal abilities that us mere mortals don’t have, but she has to overcome a rather difficult upbringing. It takes strength to go against what you’ve been taught, and the people who took you in and cared for you, but Ismae does. When you combine her physical abilities with her emotional journey, it makes for one very strong character.
So those are my choices for this week! Which heroines did you choose? Please link me!