I love it when I find a book with a great female character. It’s doubly awesome when that character is the protagonist, but it doesn’t matter to me whether they’re the main character or a side character – as long as I feel like I can connect with her, a well-written female character is like a rare gem in literature.
There is no right or wrong way to write a female character. A lot of people think that to have a strong female character you aren’t allowed to give them any feminine traits. That is totally the wrong idea. A good female character doesn’t have to be a guy with a girl’s name to be awesome! A girl can wear a dress and still kick ass – they don’t have to be brilliant at everything, they don’t have to be a social butterfly or an awkward nerd. There doesn’t need to be a set character type for a female character for her to stand out. Some authors are starting to learn that – but that doesn’t take away the greatness of characters who have come out in the last few years.
That’s why I wanted to share five female characters that I adore.
- Lucy Carlyle (Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud)
Lucy is a character that I’ve come across within the last year or so that took me a little bit to get used to. She’s the narrating character of the series Lockwood & Co. written by Jonathan Stroud, whose series currently contains The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull and The Hollow Boy.
In Lockwood & Co, Lucy introduces herself as the newest member of the titular ghost hunting company. In the timeline of the series, an event has happened which has brought about the rising of a ton of ghosts and the only people who can truly See, Hear or Feel them are children. Due to this, agencies were set up to hunt down and stop any haunting reported by the frightened adults.
Lucy is one of those characters that I started to care about halfway into the first book. Experiencing the story from her point of view gave me the opportunity to understand her motivations and feelings better. She is brilliantly smart but lacks common sense – she has lapses in judgement that puts her and her friends needlessly in danger, but makes up for it with a strong sense of determination. She has a mixed personality and style which made me feel comfortable: she describes her typical outfit as leggings and a skirt, she can fight well with a rapier, her attitude is often questionable (especially to other female characters), but she manages to scrape through.
I love characters with flaws and, in the first book, she has many. Without spoiling the series, her character growth throughout books one and two is really good but is slightly lacking in book three until the last quarter of the story. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her adventures.
- Emma Bloom (Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs)
From her first appearance in the series, Emma was one of my favourites in the Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and Library of Souls).
Emma is one of the many children who live under the care of Miss Peregrine and is one of the first to encounter Jacob when he discovers the portal to their time loop. She is a hundred years old but has remained in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl because of her time with Miss P. At first, she’s distrustful of Jacob because the children are constantly hunted by creatures known as Hollows, but soon welcomes him into the group.
Because of her peculiar power, Emma is a very hot-headed character but she is also a natural leader. When put into a difficult situation, she is looked to by the other children to come up with plans or to give a voice of comfort and reason. Her heart sometimes gets the better of her and she jumps into a situation before thinking it through but her loyalty to her friends is something that I found admirable.
She can control fire, a power that I’ve found interesting no matter what story I’ve seen it in, and it’s nice to see a character with that gift start out and continue as someone good. Fire is often portrayed as an evil power and you can sometimes feel that she’s been judged like that before throughout the series. She is anything but evil though.
Because of the mixed and diverse nature of the group, Emma doesn’t judge as much as other characters I’ve read about. She knows what it’s like to be an outcast and still is, technically, but she is amongst a group so wonderfully described that it never feels that way. She’s a great representation of how a person can feel when they’re in the right place at the right time with the right people.
- Arya Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin)
Not a lot needs to be said about Arya. At this moment in time, I’ve only read the first book in the series (A Game of Thrones) and she is already one of my favourites.
Despite the way she judges her sister, Arya is a strong character because of the way she handles things at such a young age. I like her tenacity and drive, I like how self-sufficient she is, and I love how her chapters read.
- Hermione Grange (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)
I couldn’t have a female character’s list without adding Hermione.
Like a lot of people my age, I grew up with the Harry Potter series. I started reading it at the age of eight, right the way through to the very end. It defined a great chunk of my life and I found a lot of situations easier to get through by looking at Hermione.
She was a character that stuck to what she believed in and got through good times and bad with her own brain and trusting her friends. At an age where I’d just lost the one person I knew loved to read as much as I did, finding someone who loved books within a book blew my mind. Hermione’s development as a character was something I was very attached to growing up because I related to her personally.
- Lihn Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)
Cinder is another character that I discovered in 2015, and during the first book it took me a little while to get used to her. She’s one of the main characters of The Lunar Chronicles written by Marissa Meyer and the titular character of the series’ first novel (followed by Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and Winter).
What I loved most about Cinder was her development throughout the series. At the beginning of the first book, I could pretty much sum up her character with one word – tsundere. Her interactions with Kai felt so awkward and forced at first but I warmed up to it throughout the last half of the book and the rest of the series. She takes the typical hero’s journey but it felt fresh in a way that I hadn’t been expecting.
First and foremost, Cinder is a cyborg. She has a robotic foot, arm and eyes because of an accident she couldn’t remember from her childhood. She was adopted by Lihn Garan but when he died she was left in the care of his wife, Adri, who despised her because she was a cyborg.
Cinder is a mixed character. At first, she seems a tad grumpy and is very obviously denying her crush on Prince Kai. She isn’t a natural leader but makes up for that with her loyalty, talents with mechanics and determination to do the right thing no matter the cost. She grows up across the span of the four books and that’s what I enjoyed most.