Don’t you ever get that one character – that one moment, that one word, that one act – that just instantly zaps you in the brain, butt and heart and your body locks and your mind blanks and you look down at the book in your hands and blurt out – “Yep. They’re the One.” – in a single handed confession of devoted love?
Well, I’m here to share some of my own “The One” moments with some characters who are dear to my heart.
On this journey, I have decided to split and choose my #WCW’s, my Number-One She-Wolves, Queens of the Land of No Bullshit. I know it was a daunting task, but alas with much blood shed and tears wept, I present to you my Top 8 Heroine Badasses.
- Alanna of Trebond from Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Before the land of time of glorious bad-ass females that now thrive from left to right, there were sparse and few of these rare gems. The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce is a literal example of “Nevertheless, She Persisted” both in the literary world and in the writing’s fantasy.
Alanna, a young woman who is trying to conquer the stereotype and hardship of being the only woman knight in the kingdom, tries to navigate life within a pretty harsh society.
BONUS: We see her struggle from this precious bud that blooms into a fierce rose along with experiences such as crushes, insecurities, scars and yes, her Period. Alanna is a living, breathing Lioness.
P.S. Let me tell you, she was my first #WCW at the sweet age of 10 (the year I learned you could wield a sword just as well as any ol’ chap). This book made me confident in the strength residing in my bones, the fierce drive in my heart and the dirt spotted on my ashy knees. I was like Bear Grylls but with much more curls on the noggin’.
- Katsa from Graceling by Kristine Cashore
My #2, #WCW who has a sweet place in my heart. She is prickly, determined and not your typical “hero” character. She is brutally honest, had emotional baggage, and will fight for “me, myself, and I” and is unapologetic of it.
And, I love her for it.
She is grit and jagged in all the edges that you can’t help but want to draw her in this giant group hug (think of Grumpy Cat) that will probably result in me being flat on my ass. (But totally worth it.) Cashore holds nothing back, as she lets her character explore the full range of human emotions given to her to navigate under the rule of a cruel kingdom (it’s my thing, okay?).
P.S. It was like Hunger Games meets Throne of Glass. Butt-kicking, harrowing escapes, Enchanted Woods and Survival 101. I loved it.
- Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
If there was any person in my mind who could conquer a flaming, angry, orange Cheeto* this would be my gal. This lovely, young woman came stumbling into my reads, late one afternoon before sophomore year. I remember vividly this: waking up to a bundle of fluffy bed sheets and turning the last page to stare at the ceiling as I lay there. Contemplating:
- what a refreshing feeling it was to read a character who was confident and sure, yet tenderly human and fragile.
- the absolute harsh – but bold, and unflinching reality – of the brutalities not only in the book’s mythical court but it’s parallels drawn from plausible real live situations.
- the human spirit and it’s will to survive.
I’ll leave you with those words, before I basically end up spilling my guts and fangirling a 200,000 word essay analysis.
P.S. My favorite book of the series is Heir of Fire where reasons a, b, and c are drawn in to explode in their amazing themes.
*the Man in the Toupee, oui?
- Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
C’mon, guys. Do I even have to say?
Why, yes, of course I do. That’s like asking to skip out on a lifetime of free Cinnabon’s wrapped in steamy hot cocoa huddled with a warm towel fresh out of the dryer after a shower.
She is beauty, she is grace, she will punch-you-in-your-face-in-the-name-of-justice-and-because-let’s-face-it-Draco-needed-a-fist-wake-up-call.
She was unashamed in her drive to be who she was: a book totin’ bookworm (*raises my hand*) that wasn’t afraid to die – I mean – being expelled for her friends. She also managed to juggle the eccentricities of a world-ending Dark Arts Wizard, whilst surving high school prom (and cinnamon roll Ron’s obliviousness).
P.S. I’d say she was the O.G. (Original Granger). Notice what I did there? I’m so funny, I pulled a Fred. (Yes, I know. Too soon. BRB, will be hiding downstairs under the cupboard.)
- Ella from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
It may sound surprising with the amount of words I’m spewing at one million miles a minute, but I was, and am forever shall be, an introvert. The Oh Mighty Quiet One. No tears shed there on that account though. I’m quite content and proud to be a quiet bookworm. But alas, the young years are ripe with angst and chalk-full of insecurities. So it was at the age of 9, that I read this book and was Hit Hard with the #feels.
There’s a pivotal scene in the book that is between Ella and a choice. It is hard, essential and one of the most intense, heartbreaking angst filled moments in my Bookwyrm Reading Career ever. It physically pains me to this day to remember such pain in relation to feeling what the character was experiencing. I cried, and reflected on Ella’s bravery and determination. It was that day that I realized courage takes on many forms – both subtle and loud in the world.
P.S. Sell me any day to an Anne Hathaway movie (Les Mis, anyone?). So it was no surprise that I was sold completely into the 2004 movie version of the same book title. Magic, rom-com, and a ditzy Godmother surrounded by singing sword wielding gents? Sue me, I was sold.
- Juliette Ferrars from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
First things first: Tahereh Mafi is a Goddess Divine and her writing is the Almighty Awesome.
Her writing was the first thing I could describe as poetry incarnate. It was emotions carved into the pages of the book and written word. She wrote things so beautifully they ached – they ached in a way that resonated into the hollows of one’s bones. It was like she was stringing old childhood relics and presenting memories and jarring feelings you never knew existed within you. It was chillingly poignant to be able to vividly feel the character and to also grow alongside her, as she learns to conquer her inner demons. Juliet Ferrars is a living dichotomy: a fragile beast. She has the power to destroy and rule the world – if only the world hadn’t destroyed her first. Or has it?
Definitely a story of character development, poetry, and hell of a twist that you didn’t see coming. All I will say, is that perspective is everything.
P.S. Tahereh Mafi is absolutely #LIFEGOALS (along with the sweet relationship she shares with her fellow author husband Ransom Riggs) and what I aspire to be one day. Ahem, I guess I should finally mention the famous – or infamous, depends on your view – Chapter 55. No one survived that. We were ashes blown away by the sheer Hotness of Warner.
- Diana Bishop from a Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This is the woman I want to become later on in my life: magic witch with equally magical adventures conquered by the books, brooms, and Britain at my side. The kicker with Diana Bishop’s life is: she isn’t the only thing brimming with magic at the Bodleian Library in the University of Oxford.
Be ready for the 21st century woman to navigate – and challenge – the even older world of incantations, grimoires, and Salem Witch Trials. Ripe with tea, charming old castles, and science – with a dash of romance – in the form of vampiric biochemist, Matthew Clairmont. Together they pull the rug from your feet, and transport you across the Pond, 16th century London, and into your hearts.
P.S. She is a kick-ass Ph. D. History Professor (specializing in the concentration of alchemy) at Oxford and Yale. W-o-w. I’d love to see her and Hermione Granger in action saving the world.
- Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
The dreamer, the free spirit, and amazing fae.
I instantly bonded with Lizzie’s easy smile and willingness to fight for her loved ones. And she is unabashedly herself. (Even at the face of the scary gargoyle, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.)
Lizzie not only stayed true to her family, and her friends but also to herself. She denounced a marriage proposal when everyone – society, financial pressure, and her own mother – expected her to simply accept it. And she accepted it, right?
She took the reins of her happiness and fought for it.
Another thing I loved about Lizzie, is her journey along the book plot. One would think, nothing would have to improve or change. She has a loving family, with loving sisters and loving friends.
Not quite so. Complex, real, raw – the Bennett family weaves the complexities of love and its layered depth as readers navigate the rocky terrain of the Ton and its society. Perspective definitely plays a pinnacle role in the book as its central themes, “pride” and “prejudice”, are revealed by Austen to be only a hairs breadth away from changing your entire world.
P.S. Please tell me you weren’t breathless along with Lizzie at the “I love you, most ardently”? I positively swooned (and then proceeded to wriggle around like an angry, helpless potato). Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read it, and thank me later for the Darcy in your life.
BONUS: THE 2005 FILM BY JOE WRIGHT STARRING KEIRA KNIGHTLEY AND MATTHEW MACFAYDEN (*SWOONS*) IS AN ABSOLUTE VISUAL AND THEATRICAL MASTERPIECE.