The Hunger Games, Mockingjay & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Everyone should know who Katniss Everdeen is. She volunteered for the Hunger Games to save her sister from the same fate. In her desperation to save Peeta in a ring where 2 kids from 12 districts are set out to kill each other, she inadvertently started a revolution. There is also a bit of a love triangle between Peeta/Gale and Katniss, and the series is never overpowered by the love plot line. The oppressive President Snow, is part of a regime that has oppressed Katniss’ family, community, and country for generations. She is suffering from PTSD, fears losing her family, and almost loses Peeta, the boy she loves the most, but still she fights on. She never sheds her values and always tries to protect the people she loves.
Queen of the Tearling, Invasion of the Tearling, & Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Kelsea is raised away from the capital city of her country, where she is a princes. When she turns 16 or so, she has to to home and claim her birth right as queen. However, her country is being oppressed by the Red Queen who extracts slaves and exorbitant taxes. Kelsea puts her foot down to defend her people and sets forth to learning about why her country ended up like this and how she can stop this oppressive queen. She struggles to be confident in her power, especially when it costs other people. But her care and consideration is something I think helps her rather than hinders her and something to admire.
The Song of the Lioness quartet: Alanna, In the Hands of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, & Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
In a fantasy world, Alanna pretended to be her twin brother so that she could become a knight. Blessed by a goddess, Alanna is an exceptional woman who guards her secret carefully. Only a few of her trusted friends know. When it is discovered, she has to leave court and lives with some tribes people. She ends up saving her friends and family, being a teacher, learning how to balance being in a masculine profession and being a some-times feminine person, and saving her friends and family again.
The Immortals quartet: The Realms of the Gods, Emperor Mage, Wolf Speaker, & Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Diane is an orphaned teenager with the power to speak with and health animals. She meets Numair Salmalin, one of the worlds most powerful magicians (naturally, they’ll fall in love). She has to come to terms with her power and learn that she has control because she’s a strong, compassionate person. Like Alanna, she goes through a lot of trials in her adventures.
Protector of the Small quartet: First Test, Page, Squire, & Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
Kel is the first female knight in the realm to openly train as a woman. She doesn’t mind getting beat up to protect people who need it – or, in at least one case, kittens and other baby animals. She has to deal with sexism and prove her worth. She’s pretty cool, just like Diana and Alanna
Trickster’s Choice & Tricksters Queen by Tamora Pierce
Aly is Alanna’s daughter who struggles living under the shadow of her impressive parents. She runs off and finds herself enslaved and in the household of powerful family where the daughters are the true heirs to the throne. She has to prove her worth to help the daughters establish their birth right without arousing suspicion. She’s basically a really good spy master. Like Varys from the Game of Thrones, but a girl.
Without being to blunt about it, I am basically a huge Tamora Pierce fan. I know there are a lot of series with female protagonists – like Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant – and are probably a ton I’ve never never read or didn’t find memorable.
The best part about this list, for me at least, is that there are a pile of books all written by women featuring strong female protagonists who have careers, love and (eventually, possibly) children. There are even piles of books where women are secondary characters – Harry Potter, any book by Rick Riordan – but I specifically want to focus on the main protagonist, which Hermione obviously isn’t in a series named after the main character. Plus there are so many stand alone books with female protagonists – another blog post maybe. With all of these books, it’s not so much that “women can do it all”, but I do like it when nothing is taken off the table, whether it is being a spy or a warrior or a revolutionary, or something more conventional, along with having a partner. I like it when young girls are told that they can do what ever they aspire to, even if it is really hard, and to never back down or let fear or criticism be the thing that destroys our courage and passion.
Do you have a favourite series with a female protagonist? Tell me in the comment below