This Tuesday Top Ten is NOT about them! (This week's theme is Top Ten Characters Who ARE X... we get to pick, from the Broke and Bookish blog).
I love strong fighting girls. But I don't want every dystopian, fantasy, science fiction or action/thriller book I read to feature a girl who can hold her own in physical combat, or has special powers to the same effect, and I definitely don't want that to become the main requirement for a "strong female character."
Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong. (quote from Sophia McDougall's article here)
Does anyone else feel like the kick-butt heroine is overdone in YA? So many of them in paranormal/dystopian stories in recent years. (tweet by Michelle Witte)
So this is my list of girl heroes in science fiction or fantasy that saved the day, with unconventional strengths.
Elisa in the Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson.
In the first two books and part of the third, Elisa does have a special power that sets her apart, though she struggles with insecurity. Without spoiling the third book, I think I can safely say her power changes enormously. She saves the day in an unexpected way with unconventional strength.
Lilac in These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner.
Spoiled, rich, smart, fashion-saavy, clever with space ship mechanics, party girl, chased up a tree, great at putting guys down, dangerous with explosives, determined, dogged... there are so many dimensions to Lilac.
Seraphina, in Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. I need to read this one again because I honestly can't remember the details of the ending and how Seraphina triumphs: but she's a very complex character with a lot going on in her head and no special abilities to help her stop a war between humans and dragons.
Meg Murray in A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle.
Her stubbornness and love is what she uses to save the day.
Miri in Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale.
If I remember correctly, it was primarily Miri's diplomacy and smarts that saved everyone.
Ani in the Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale.
Ani's discovery of her magic doesn't impact how the ending turns out. In other words, the magic isn't what "saves" her, except in a very small way.
Hermione in the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
While Harry Potter often gets credit for the "big" saves, Hermione saves the day and Harry's skin in many smaller ways. I loved that she was Muggle-born (nothing special, no magic in her family) and that her strengths were that she worked really, really hard to study and learn and observe and figure things out.
Okay, here's a couple more who did have some special powers/fighting prowess/weapons to help them along, but their strength was evident in many others ways too:
Ismae in Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers.
She's trained to be an assassin, so at first I didn't include her in my list. But in the end it's not her special skills that make her stand out, but her mercy.
Karou, Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, by Laini Taylor.
She's pretty keen with a knife and has some unusual powers but she mostly fights (using this term loosely) her enemies in surprising ways.
I am sure there are more great examples of girl heros like this that I've missed. Help me FIND THEM, please!!!