I have a feeling that this week’s topic (brought to us always by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm) might end up being really repetitive across everyone’s lists. I’m hoping not, because I’m always looking for more books with strong female leads.
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
I read this series a long, long time ago (and in fact, I’m really hoping that I never go back and re-read it, so it’s perfectly preserved in my middle-school mind), and I remember thinking, Man, Alanna is so cool! She trades spaces with her twin brother so he can go to a monastery and learn magic, while she goes and breaks the rules for a woman and learns how to fight and be a knight. Her brother never liked fighting, anyway. Along the way, she has to choose who to tell her secret to, and she has to figure out who to avoid at all costs. There are all sorts of assassination plots and conspiracies whispering around her (although not all of them are directed at her), which is what made younger me love it so much. It might not have held up over time as well as some other books, but Alanna was one of the first female lead characters that I read where I could say, Wait, girls can do something? Awesome!
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
This is a series that I absolutely loved in high school. It came out right around when Steampunk was beginning to thrive in the mainstream, and really caught the crest of it. I don’t hear much about it nowadays, but man, it was great back in the early 2010s. (Can you believe we’re at the end of this decade??) Anyway. Our main British female lead (Derwyn) in Leviathan ends up stowing away on an airship by pretending to be a guy (Dylan), and ends up encountering the prince of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, who may or may not know her secret. The book is also full of these beautiful illustrations, and it’s a really great retelling of the events leading up to World War I — and/or World War I in general. Also, Tesla makes an appearance in later books!
Lumberjanes & Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Can we just put Noelle Stevenson at the top of this list? I decided to put both of her graphic novels in one recommendation, because otherwise the whole list would probably end up being nothing but her. Lumberjanes tells the story of some teenage campers/scouts that have to survive some pretty creepy things being thrown at them, while I’m sure you all have heard of Nimona by now (she’s the shapeshifting sidekick who just wants to cause havoc). Noelle’s humor and drawings bring everything to life, and the stories always end up having some kind of happy ending, even if it’s not what you originally think it should be.
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
I was given this book by a cousin years and years ago, and I’ve never actually set out to find any of the other books in the series. It actually took me several years to get through the entire book, mostly because I was way too young on my first few attempts at reading it. Now, though, I think it’s a really good book, and main lead Lessa, while she may be a bit of a stubborn brat at some points and often leaps before she looks, is a very strong character. She survives the slaughter of her family, bides her time waiting for revenge for years, and eventually ends up as a Dragon Rider, something she never could have dreamed of when she was still in captivity. It gets a little shaky around the middle, but Lessa is something different. I don’t think I’ve met another female protagonist quite like her.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn
Okay, it’s another graphic novel. However, there are five awesome female leads here, one of whom was the trailblazer for female paper deliverers, who soon ends up leading a small band of delivery girls. Have I mentioned this is set in the 1980s? The whole thing is very reminiscent of Stranger Things (which I still have to finish…). Things turn weird one day, though, and strange creatures start appearing around town. Enter some dudes from the future, some weird aliens who hunt humans for sport (maybe?!), and a healthy dose of time-travel, and you have the recipe for some weird happenings around town. I can’t wait to collect the rest of this series. I’ve only read the first two so far, but that’s enough for me to give this a solid recommendation on this list.
This has been one of the easier T5T topics for me to write, which is a relief. Next month’s theme is going to take a lot of research — I’ll have to write out a book list for each of the Hogwarts houses, starting with Gryffindor! (I’m up for the challenge, though!)
Did I miss your favorite heroine? Have you found someone you’ll be checking out? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, keep reading.