Today, I want to honor the strongest ladies in young adult fiction. When I label a book strong heroine, I try to recognize all kinds of strength, whether physical or mental. For this post, though, I'm talking specifically about girls that can beat pretty much anyone up in a fight. Not only that, but I chose those with an attitude to match. A lot of physically powerful YA heroines still end up spending a lot of time at people's mercy, because they make stupid decisions or let boys take advantage of them. Not these girls. If there's any way out of a bad situation, these girls have the cleverness, ingenuity, stubbornness and power to save themselves (and others).
Check back on Thursday, because I'll be giving one of these books away!
10. Aislinn from Wicked Lovely
Here in the tenth spot is actually a shared award. Basically, Melissa Marr writes exceedingly strong ladies. Aislinn doesn't have physical power so much in the first book, but she has a mental strength of will that makes up for it, especially since she ends up acquiring power along the way. She definitely becomes a force to be reckoned with. Marr's heroines are sassy and refuse to let circumstances dictate how they'll live their lives.
9. Alanna from Song of the Lioness Quartet / Kel from Protector of the Small Quartet
Tamora Pierce, too, can be counted on to have powerful and/or sassy heroines. These ladies step out of the boundaries of womanhood to become what they want to be, society be damned. Both want to become knights, even though the world they live in thinks women should be wives, mothers, etc. Alanna disguises herself as a boy to get around the rules; Kel goes through it as a woman, following the proper procedures, and has to endure a lot of hazing. All of Pierce's heroines are strong, but none of them kick quite so much butt as these two.
8. Scar from Scarlet
You may not know this if you haven't read this book (which you totally should by the way), but Will Scarlet from Robin Hood legend is actually a girl pretending to be a guy to escape being made to do womanly things. Scar, as Robin's gang affectionately calls her, may be pretty small, but she can do serious damage. In a hand-to-hand fight, I would definitely want Scar at my back. She knows how best to use her size and will never stop fighting, no matter how backed into a corner she is. From a distance, she's deadly with her throwing knives. She's also darn clever; she will come up with a plan to save those she loves, no matter how difficult.
7. Deuce from Enclave
Being the heroine of a dystopia tends to be a sign that a girl's going to be, well, resilient. Either she'll find people to help her or she'll have powers of her own to help her get by, since the book/series is kind of over if the main character dies. Well, usually. Any way, in this society, people become either breeders, builders or hunters at the age of 15, assuming they live that long. Deuce has always wanted to be a Hunter, even though it's the most dangerous role to have. She is not the strongest person in her community, but, for a human, she's pretty freaking strong. She reminds me a lot of Katniss.
6. Katniss from The Hunger Games
Speaking of which, she's another super powerful heroine. You probably expected her to be at the top of the list, right? Well, I decided to break things down into ordinary humans versus humans with powers, because the latter tend to be stronger. As a human, Katniss can take most anyone. She's got her insane skills with a bow and arrow for one thing, and is pretty awesome at other forms of combat too. What really makes her such a badass, though, is her cleverness: figuring out the traps in the game quickly, saving herself and Peeta multiple times by gauging what the audience wants to see.
5. Lex from Croak
Lex can, and does, beat up pretty much everybody. She's sassy and sarcastic and plain mad. Eventually, she discovers that all of the rage is because she's supposed to be a grim reaper. That cuts down on the number of people she punches, but, should she need it (and she probably will), she still has more strength than the average person and a willingness to kick your butt.
4. Kali from Every Other Day
Kali's actually only incredibly powerful every other day. However, she does not let that stop her, which is why she still gets to be this high up on my list. 24 of every 48 hours, Kali is a human. The other 24, she kills demons, hellhounds, and pretty much every other terrible paranormal creature you can imagine. Even her blood is poisonous to them, so if they start winning she can take them down even while they gnaw on her. Then she'll heal really quickly. She faces death on almost a daily basis. Voluntarily.
3. Ashline from Wildefire
Ashline is much like Lex. She has a lot of rage, due to family issues and just some naturally-occurring anger that she, too, cannot seem to control. Like Lex, she's constantly in trouble for beating up her fellow students, who, let's face it, probably deserved it most of the time. This gets her sent to a special school where you learn that in addition to being able to beat most people up with her regular physical strength, she's also got volcano goddess powers. Anyone want to volunteer to try to stop her if she goes on a rampage?
2. Astrid from Rampant/Ascendant
Astrid gets some super powers, because she was made to be a unicorn hunter. These come with a heavy cost: you have to stay a virgin. But as long as you don't round home, you have super strength to fight evil unicorns. Of course, these unicorns are still really difficult opponents. Astrid is definitely the best of the unicorn hunters. What really makes me respect her strength, though, is that she never gives up. This girl's whole world can fall apart and she will keep going, which makes it pretty difficult to defeat her.
1. Katsa from Graceling
Okay, I've highlighted some seriously powerful girls up to this point. You might be surprised to find Katsa as my number one. Without seriously spoiling the book, I can't explain precisely why I would back her to make it through anything the universe chooses to send at her, even the other girls on the list. Mostly, though, it's because she's so resourceful. She will figure out a way to beat you, and that's just how it is.