Women In Young Adult Literature
This Wednesday we’re celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women on International Women’s Day. I’d like to use that as an opportunity to talk about a few of my favorite female characters in Young Adult books. Careful if you haven’t read these books because of possible spoilers.
Cather Avery (Fangirl)
Cather Avery and her twin sister Wren are starting college and Wren has announced she wants to discover college on her own, leaving an introvert Cath hiding out in her dorm, writing fan fiction. I really liked that Fangirl was about Cath as a character at first and everything else second. Cath is shy and introvert but she’s also sure of who she is and isn’t ashamed of that.
Madeline Whittier (Everything Everything)
Madeline has a rare illness which prevents her from leaving her house, but Maddy is a happy teenage girl. She reads a lot, takes classes online, has a friend in the form of her nurse. Despite the fact that she was missing out on so much in her life, she keeps being optimistic. It is impossible not to like her. Of course, she was also moody and curious. This curiosity eventually leads her to uncover a secret that will change everything for her.
Glory O’Brien (Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future)
One evening Glory and her best friend mix up beer with the remains of a bat (that is as weird as it sounds). Next thing they know they can see people’s pasts and futures. Glory becomes obsessed with the second civil war and decided to write down every piece of information she gathers from seeing people’s futures. I loved how Glory handled seeing the future. She questioned everything in her past and present; her future, the strange hippie community across the street and especially her mother’s suicide and what I means for her.
Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy-series)
Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir and thus fated to guard a Moroi. She’s determined to protect her best friend Lissa, a royal Moroi. Rose is sarcastic and insubordinate but she is fiercely loyal to Lissa. Over the course of the series Rose loves and loses Dimitri. The loss of him puts her friendship with Lissa and even her life at stake.
Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer trilogy and upcoming Shaw Confessions)
She has to power to kill people with a thought, but is she a villain? Throughout this trilogy, Mara tries to figure out what is happening with her. She means no harm, but around her people start dying under strange circumstances. She tries to understand her powers and is put in dangerous situations because of it. To get herself out of these situations she must use her power and questions who she is when she does.
Gwendolyn Shepard (Ruby Red)
Kerstin Gier gives us curious and funny heroines. These characteristics often put them in complicated situations. Take Gwendolyn, (Gwyneth in the US/UK editions) for example. She can travel through time but it isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. She always taught her cousin would inherit the time travel gene, she isn’t ready to fulfill tasks that would take her across time. Yet, Gwendolyn uncovers the truth and stands her ground while taking on an ancient organization.
Shahrzad Al-Khayzuran (The Wrath and the Dawn)
She marries the Caliph, not to love him and be his bride, but to kill him. Khalid has had countless wives and has killed every one of them, including her best friend. But when Shahrzad finds out her husband is cursed she takes it upon herself to save him and their people. Shahrzad can come across as spoiled, but she also doesn’t take shit from anyone and doesn’t like to be told what to do.
Inej Ghafa & Nina Zenik (Six Of Crows)
Inej can climb the most impossible buildings. She grew up with loving parents but was separated from them and sold to a brothel. Her time there still causes her anxiety. Nina was a member of the second army in the Ravkan war. She’s a heartrender. Nina loves her power, she loves food and she loves Matthias, who is supposed to be her enemy, and she knows he loves her too. Nina is determined to show him Grisha aren’t evil like he has been told, to not only accept her but her kind as well. Inej and Nina are just as much a part of The Dregs as the boys and just as important for their mission.
Kestrel Trajan (The Winner’s trilogy)
As the general’s daughter Kestrel knows politics very well. She has always had a privileged life. When Valorians and Herrani’s go to war, Kestrel is put in a difficult position. Her people are in the wrong, but they are her people. Arin isn’t one of them. He’s her slave, the boy she’s in love with. She has to help his people. Kestrel is often put before terrible options but they are her only options and what do you choose when the outcome is bound to be horrible either way?
Verity (Code name Verity)
“Kiss me, Hardy. Kiss me, quick!” Well, if this book didn’t destroy me. Verity is captured by Nazi’s and tortured until she agrees to write down everything she knows - everything. The first half of the book is her confession, the second half is told from her best friend’s POV. Maddie and Verity are major friendship goals. Their story was so inspiring and completely heartbreaking at the same time.
Bianca (The DUFF)
The Designated Ugly Fat Friend is what Robbie calls Bianca, explaining that it isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a fact. Bianca tries to not let this bother her, but it does. She is the DUFF. Despite the fact that he hates Robbie the two of them start a friends-with-benefits relation, except for the “friends” part because they hate each other. The book discusses many others topics, such as friendship, neglect, alcoholism and divorce. Bianca uses the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ a lot throughout the book. In the end, she comes to a nice conclusion about these labels and ultimately it’s a good message. I would also recommend Kody’s other YA novels.
Linh Cinder (Cinder)
So far I’ve only read the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, but it was enough to see that Cinder is bad-ass. She’s funny and sassy and the best mechanic in New Beijing. Instead of going to the Prince’ ball she’d rather use that opportunity to elope from her evil guardian. Things don’t go as planned when it’s discovered that Cinder is a Lunar, that she has powers, and that if the Lunar queen finds out, she will take Cinder to Luna and most likely kill her.