7 Female Book Characters you Need to Read
I’ve recently subscribed to Audible which means I’m getting through loads more books than I have in a while. A lot of the books I’m listening to re non-fiction. So far this year I’ve listened to Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race and Juno Dawson’s The Gender Games. These are both brilliant books by the way, so if you get a chance definitely give them a go. But every once in a while I like to get stuck into a novel. I do love kick-ass female book characters. I don’t necessarily mean the ones who can fight, but also the ones who aren’t afraid to be who they really are.
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Hermione Granger – Harry Potter Series
When I’m talking about awesome female book characters, there is only one place to start.
Since I first read about her in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone I’ve always wanted to be Hermione. She’s kind and considerate and the smartest student of her age at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hermione shows that there’s nothing shameful in being a girl who is clever.
At first she struggles to make friends at Hogwarts. She is a witch born to muggle (non-magic) parents and so is an outsider from the start. The other students think she’s a bit of a know-it-all, and it’s not until Halloween that Harry, Ron and Hermione become best friends. Hermione realises that a very valuable stone is being kept at Hogwarts but that someone very dangerous and powerful is trying to steal it. The trio set out to steal the stone before anyone else gets to it. With lots of input from Hermione the three students manage to work through the powerful spells guarding the stone, before leaving Harry to go on to get the stone.
Smart and Brave
Hermione is literally the brains of the outfit. Harry and Ron would never have worked out what was being kept in the school if it wasn’t for her, and definitely would have struggled to get to it. Some people question why she was sorted into Gryffindor school house, known for bravery, and not Ravenclaw, known for intelligence by the sorting hat. Knowing that the sorting hat put Harry in Gryffindor because he didn’t want to be in Slytherin, Hermione probably chose to be in Gryffindor. So many times during the course of the series she proves that she was a true Gryffindor. Even when she is being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange she thinks on her feet and manages to convince her of a lie, before they all eventually escape from her.
Hermione is a female book character that will always have a special place in my heart. She was there throughout my teen years and I feel like I know her. She helped me through all those rough times growing up when hormones were running riot. It will be a long time before anyone comes anywhere close to her for me.
Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games
Katniss is not a female book character that I expected to like. I put off reading The Hunger Games, because I didn’t want to follow the crowd. I finally gave in a while back and found that she’s right up my street. She’s an awesome archer, smart and kind.
At the age of 16, when her younger sister Prim is selected to take part in the hunger games Katniss puts herself forward to go in Prim’s place. The hunger games are basically a fight to the death between 12 disticts of the dystopia Panem. As the games draw to a close, only 3 competitors remain. An announcement is made saying that the last 2 survivors will win. When Katniss and Peeta, the other competitor from her district, are the last two survivors, another announcment is made to say that there will now be only one winner. Katniss however, has other ideas. She and Peeta prepare to both eat poisonous berries, until another announcement is made declaring them both winners.
Katniss shows that she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, no matter what the repurcussions might be. That’s why she makes my list of female book characters that should be on your reading list.
Roxy & Ally – The Power
The Power is a political fiction novel that won the 2017 Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction. In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have read it if it hadn’t been for Emma Watson’s online book club, Our Shared Shelf. It was the chosen book at the end of last year, and it’s just brilliant. It gripped me right to the very end.
The book follows the life of four different characters across the world when teen girls start developing ‘the power’. Roxy and Ally are two of those characters. I probably cheated by choosing them both, but I just couldn’t decide on one over the other. They are right up there as some of my favourite female book characters. Their stories are very different but they become very close. Both have run-ins with men that force them to leave their homes, and they unite to seek revenge and world domination. They talk the talk but with the help of their ‘power’ they can walk the walk too. I think Roxy is a bit more likeable than Ally, but Ally is pretty much the brains behind their schemes.
Lisbeth Salander – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those series that I love reading, but with some of the horrific events that happen to Lisbeth, it feels a bit wrong to say I love it. If that makes any sense? As far as female book characters go Lisbeth has both brains and brawn.
Investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to track down a teenager who disappeared 40 years earlier. He hires punk private investigator Lisbeth Salander to help him find the truth.
I feel sorry for Lisbeth but am also in awe of her. Her childhood was traumatic enough to mess anyone up. But she picked herself up and found a job that suited her lifestyle. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her and she has no preference to sleep with men or women. When she’s the victim of sexual assault early in the book she bides her time and gets her sweet revenge.
Offred – The Handmaid’s Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that I read for A-Level English Literature, but didn’t really ‘get’ it at the time. So when I heard it was being made into a TV series I thought I’d give it another go. Mainly because I couldn’t remember exactly what happened in it after first reading it about 12 years ago.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel set in the fictional Republic of Gilead and it tells the story of Offred from her point of view. Gilead is a patriarchal dystopia based on christian laws. All women’s rights are removed, including being allowed to read. Women are have different roles within the regime. Handmaids, of which Offred is, exist purely to breed. They are assigned to married households and each month the ceremony takes place. The ceremony is where the husband of the household tries to get the handmaid pregnant. It’s a really odd situation where the handmaid lies on her back on top of the wife of the house, and the husband penetrates her.
I know it sounds a bit cliche, but I think I can relate more to Offred reading at this point in my life than when I was in my teens. There are some parts where she talks about her daughter that bring me almost to tears. I think also with the climate in the USA at the moment, it doesn’t feel like the dystopia of Gilead is as far away as it felt when I first read it. Especially with the war that the government seem to be waging against women’s reproductive rights.
As female book characters go Offred gets a pretty rough deal. She’s seen the awful consequences that came to people who resist the regime and seems resigned to her fate. But during the course of her story she takes any chance she can to rebel.
Arya Stark – Game of Thrones
Arya is born into nobility, but she has no interest in being a lady. She’s the third child and second daughter of 5 legitimate Stark children. She is brought up with an illegitimate half-brother as well.
She’s scrappy, feisty and always speaks her mind. She’s another female book character that has, quite frankly, had a horrific childhood. She was there when her dad was executed, and then her eldest brother and mother being murdered at the massacre of the red wedding. Saying that she had a rough time of it is the understatement of the century.
I’m not even going to begin to summarise the plot of the Game of Thrones series, because I’ll still be sat writing this into next week. Suffice to say that lots of people die, there are dragons, lots of sex and a bit of incest thrown in too. As I mentioned above, Arya is orphaned as a young child. She travels abroad to Bravos where she joins the ‘Faceless Men’, a group of highly trained assassins. When her training is complete she journeys back to Westoros to murder all those responsible for the deaths and mistreatment of her family. Game of Thrones is full of awesome female characters. They’re treated pretty shoddily in the series, but they take those experiences and come out fighting.
I could have chosen several female book characters from Game of Thrones including Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and even Sansa Stark. But Arya comes on top for me, because of her grit and determination to right the wrongs made against her family.
When she arrives back at her family home, she’s a proper badass. There are times where I wonder whether she’s bordering on psychotic. I wouldn’t blame her if she was, the awful events of her childhood would be enough to drive the best of us loopy! Arya makes the list because, she’s cool, calm and calculated. She will stop at nothing to get her sweet revenge.
Over to You
What do you think of my choices? Are there any awesome female book characters that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear from you, even if it is just to add to my ever-growing reading list for this year 🙂
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