I'm big on character-driven plots and stories. While it is possible for me to be frustrated with a book that has a great plot and good writing, but terribly developed characters, I've found that I often readily forgive a book it's monotonous story progression or crap writing if I happen to like the characters. I'm not saying I fall in love with the book because of the characters, because I don't lie to myself about these things: a badly written book is a badly written book, and a plot-what-plot? story holds nothing over me.
I'm just more forgiving of a badly written book if I happen to like the characters.
And sure, one person's favorite character could be another's arch-nemesis, so a well-written, well-created, well-developed character is all relative from one reader to another.
But because I'm a character loving reader, I tend to put a lot of stock on the types of characters presented to me in books. In some strange, twisted Ani-logic, because I'm a woman, I also tend to be more critical of my own gender in fiction--I know, I've been trying hard not to be, but I keep slipping and getting on top of a bunch of soap boxes I should probably put away.
I have certain types of heroines I automatically love or develop girl-crushes on, or simply admire and respect. There are heroines who are fine the way they are, even if I don't love them to death; but I don't get frustrated with them either, and that's pretty important to me.
But then there are always those heroines who just don't sit well with me no matter what, and to this day, I'm still not quite sure what my trigger is.
Nonetheless, this week's Top Ten Tuesdays is for the Heroines in Fiction Whom I Love. No doubt there are plenty of them out there, and a lot of my personal favorites tend toward the strong, sassy, smart-ass, snarky, or quietly scheming evil genius types. I also have a soft spot for younger heroines with prodigal skills and uber-level genius. And, of course, I sometimes will lean towards a simple heroine who just has great development or who has a simple skill she happens to be good at.
There are also the bitchy heroines with their own sub-types that can be conflicting as to whether or not I like them. And there are the occasional strangely outlandish and almost crazy heroines who happen to draw my attention.
(On a tangential note, I tend to throw things when there are heroines of the ditzy, purposefully clumsy, can't do anything to save her own life, but who is supposedly a strong and independent type.)
Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books
(Or you could pick movies/tv)
Looking through my rough draft list mere hours before posting this piece, I realized that I have too many favorite heroines in fiction as well as not very many who really stand out among the crowd. So I chose a select few here who have always been personal favorites, and then chose a few who are recent favorites.
Believe me, this list had to be chiseled down by quite a bit.
Some Favorites Since Long Ago:
Dashti from Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Aza from Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
These are two of my most favorite young adult fairy tale retellings, and also part of that first batch of young adult novels I'd read during my college days when reading time was sparse and precious. I loved both Dashti and Aza from their respective books because I feel like they DO represent good strong examples of resourceful, witty, and capable female heroines from young girls to look up to. It also helps that the stories are adorably sweet and fun.
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I'm sure no explanation is necessary for this one. She's Hermione Granger.
Nagato Yuki from the Haruhi Suzumiya series by Tanigawa Nagaru
Rahzel Anadis from Hatenkou Yuugi by Endou Minari
I have mentioned Nagato Yuki more than once before as one of my favorite fictional heroines. This hasn't changed and I'm sure it won't change anytime soon. As for Rahzel, I really almost forgot about her until I was thinking, "Hey, what about other anime/manga heroines?" And then I remembered how much I loved that Rahzel was one in many, many anime female leads I absolutely loved for her snarky witticisms, her nonsensical random tangent sense of humor, and her strength, resourcefulness, and her ability to take care of herself even without the use of her usual crutch, magic.
A Few Favorites of Most Recent:
Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza from the Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson
Ismae from Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Caymen Meyers from The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
These recent additions to my favorites list could be fleeting, but these young women stand out for their own reasons. Both Elisa and Ismae are strong and intelligent in their own rights and able to get the job done and save the world without the world being all about boys. As for Caymen, I never really got a handle on her aside from the fact that she's witty and sarcastic with a brand on dry humor that I absolutely love!
Jane Perkins aka "Sweet Baby Jane" from Over the Line by Cindy Gerard
Crystal "Tinkerbell" Debrowski from Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard
When I wrote my review for Over the Line, I had mentioned that I had mentally placed Janey Perkins onto a list of female characters that I immediately respected and admired. Well, since that's the case, I don't see why not add her onto the list of Top Tens--she's got a really mature, level-headed personality, throws the charms on as a rockstar, and can kick her own bodyguard's ass. That's not bad. And as for Tinkerbell, I just liked that she was a tiny force unto her own, barely needing someone to rescue her when she's in a bind, and able to follow and lead, defer to the leader as well as take charge, and improve upon her faults and admit when she's wrong without any drama.
By no means are these the only heroines I love in fiction and honestly, they my not be the top picks either, because I never really thought of this topic too much. I mean, this is like asking me to choose ten favorite books out of my entire favorites list, which is also unfeasible.
In fact, here are some Honorable Mentions: (one of them is even from a recent TV series rather than a book)
Alana Gore from Tempting the Bodyguard by J. Lynn
Brooke Parker from Love Irresistibly by Julie James
Alana Gore is an atypical type of female main character. She's got a somewhat successful career, doesn't need a man, and cusses like a sailor. She also takes a bullet for her man. But she then ends up needing a man to "complete" her, so she's only an Honorable Mention.
To be fair, Brooke Parker is the same type of heroine as every other Julie James female character written: sassy, snarky, quick-witted, mature, intelligent, talented, and ambitious. And also to be fair, I don't so much as like Brooke as I love the coupling of Brooke Parker and Cade Morgan, really.
Addison "Addie" Coleman from Pivot Point series by Kasie West
Addie is a straight up nerd. She's into books and she says things and does things that just makes you cringe in embarrassment for her teenage self, but also love her for daring to be different in a sea of girls who are only interested in boys, clothing, and make-up at that fragile high school age. Instead, Addie is into nerdy stuff like comic books, books. and the like. Of course, she's a pretty girl with cynical thoughts of "I'm Plain Jane and I don't know why guys would like me" even though most of the guys end up liking her anyway.
Cheon Song-yi played by Jeon Ji-hyun in My Love From Another Star
Somehow, I feel like Song-yi should be at the top of my list rather than an Honorable Mention, but I had wanted to keep this list restricted to books, then I thought of her later into writing this post, and then I decided that I was just too lazy to re-list the entire thing.
Also, just in case anyone is curious, as a big K-drama fan, I do have a LOT more K-drama series female heroines I'm in love with, but if I had to list them all, this Top Ten could go on for a while. So I'll just have Cheon Song-yi represent them all, no?