Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner had a great post some time back entitled "What Makes a Heroine Strong or Kick-Ass?" She posted this in response to a Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and The Bookish asking for a list of Top Ten Kick-Ass Heroines. Like Jamie, my definition of "kick-ass" is not necessarily someone who has been doing some ass-kicking. Of course that can be part of it, but my definition of kick-ass is someone who is independent, fearless, intelligent, and just plain cool. I didn't get to participate in this Top Ten Tuesday, but it's been one that I think about every now and then, so today, I thought I would rewind and post my Top Ten Kick-Ass Heroines.
*Note: My explanations of why these characters are kick-ass may contain spoilers. You have been warned.
1. Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Katniss definitely does some ass-kicking in Suzanne Collins' trilogy, but she is also an incredibly brave person. Stormy at Book.Blog.Bake recently posted a thorough discussion of Young Adult Dystopian characters and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in response to some things she read denouncing Katiniss as a "strong" character because she does experience a sort of break down in Mockingjay. Strong people hurt too; it's what they do in spite of that hurt that defines them.
2. Hermione Granger Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling - Hermione made smart, bookish girls cool, and that is totally kick-ass.
3. Puck Connelly The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - If you haven't read Maggie Stiefvater's The Scropio Races, go do it now. It is an unexpectedly beautiful book made all the more brilliant by the presence of Puck - a rough around the edges girl who dares to be the first female to ride in The Scorpio Races, a dangerous horse race hosted on the island of Thisby every year. Not only does she dare to ride, she decides to ride her own island pony instead of the terrifying, if captivating, capaill uisce. Does Puck choose to do this for the fame and glory? No, she makes this choice because of her brother and her fierce family loyalty. Definitely kick-ass.
4. Jessica Darling Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty - Oh Megan McCafferty, thank you for writing about a real, awkward, snarky, hilarious, and totally kick-ass high school girl.
5. Amy Dunne Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I don't admire Amy Dunne's actions AT ALL, but you have to admit she is kick-ass - even if she's crazy.
6. Annabeth Chase Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan - Annabeth is the daughter of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and she's really smart, but she's also really brave and an architect. This girl's got skills.
7. Liesel Meminger The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Liesel is a young girl in Nazi occupied Germany who befriends and harbors a Jewish man and steals books that the Third Riech is burning. If that's not kick-ass, I don't know what is.
8. Jo March Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - Jo has always been my favorite March girl because she dared to write and dream and travel. I hope I have a little bit of her in me.
9. Mia Hall If I Stay by Gayle Forman - Mia, a masterful cello player, has to choose, literally, between life and death when the rest of her family has perished after a terrible car accident. Mia chooses life, which is a choice that is always kick-ass.
10. Offred The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - Megan McCafferty's brilliant satiric/dystopian series, Bumped and Thumped, is loosely based on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but Melody and Harmony pale in comparison to the original handmaid, Offred, who is forced to serve as a sex slave and surrogate mother against her will but, despite the oppressive society she lives in, maintains a flame of hope and the courage to escape.
Mandie Shaw Mandie Books by Lois Gladys Leppard - Wholesome, Christian, pseudo-detective Mandie is only a pre-teen, but she is inquisitive and clever, which makes solving mysteries easy.
Professor Minierva McGonagall Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling - Professor McGonagall, also sharing her name with a goddess of wisdom, seems stern and matronly, but deep down, she has a fiery, passionate spirit full of fight and zeal.
Jane Eyre Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Team Rochester! Jane is often billed as meek and mild, but she survives many physical and spiritual trials on her pilgrimage for true love.
Stargirl Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli - As her name indicates, Stargirl is a free spirit, and her story teaches young readers today not to give in to the pressure to conform.