As I'm writing my novel with a female protagonist, I thought it would be beneficial to look at some of my favorites (and least favorites). What about her personality makes her a strong character? What makes her so likeable? Why do I relate to this person? Below are some of my favorite protagonists (in no particular order; please add your own in the comments section!). Most of these books I have read relatively recently and they are semi-fresh in my mind.
- Evie from Paranormalcy - Evie is a tough, snarky, witty teenager who also is caring, brave and passionate. She fights for her friends and risks her life even when there is something evil on the loose. Plus I love how sure she is of herself. Teenage girls can look to Evie as a role model (minus the whole vampire-tasing thing).
- Tiffany Aching from the Discworld series - I've only read two books out of the BAZILLION in Terry Pratchett's series. In THE WEE FREE MEN (which I know I've mentioned several times - sorry), Tiffany is a young girl who learns that she may be a witch. She gets involved in a magical world of monsters and tiny blue men who love to drink and fight and kick. I love Tiffany because she doesn't take any crap from anyone. She's tough, smart, logical and follows her dreams. She doesn't let anyone pull the wool over her eyes. And she's not even a teenager yet!
- Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series - She is incredibly smart and talented, brave because it's important to keep fighting, loyal to her friends, and keeps a strong head on her shoulders. She can be emotional at times, but she's a teenage girl for cripes sake! Growing up isn't easy, especially when you're fighting the darkest wizard of all time. I love her optimism and how she is the one who keeps Harry moving forward. I'm not a big fan of how she let Harry and Ron cheat off her work all the time, but Harry had a lot on his mind (Ron was a bit of a mook, though I love him too!).
- Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series - She isn't a main character, but I just love her. She's so funny and starry eyed but also passionate and loyal. She dances to her own music, never letting anyone or anything get her down, even when the other kids steal all her shoes. She always sees the good side, the silver lining. Plus she's incredibly brave (or maybe she just doesn't realize the danger of some situations).
Here are some female protagonists that are my least favorite, though I still enjoyed the books very much:
- Bella Swan from the Twilight series - I think many people will agree that Bella is a whiney mess most of the time. She's so obsessed with Edward that she alienates herself from her father and her new friends. She has an unnatural passion for Edward and I find it hard to believe. Though, I am a big fan of the books and movies. I'm not sure the exact reason why I like these stories so much, because it's certainly not Bella. I can't relate to her. I think I relate to Jacob better. Maybe it's just the excitement of being in love with a vampire and all the danger that comes with it, plus the werewolves are cool.
- Elana Gilbert from the Vampire Diaries - I liked these books too (and I swear I'm not trying to bash the vampire girls), but Elana is WAY too perfect. She's all blonde and popular and gorgeous, plus she gets the dreamy guy and has awesome friends. And to top it off, she has a heart of gold. Barf! Again, I loved reading these books but more for the storyline than for the characters. Damon is probably my favorite, and I don't normally like the bad boys!
- Mistaya Holiday from A Princess of Landover - The Landover series is fun. In case you haven't heard of it, it's about a man who buys a magical kingdom out of a fancy mail-order catalog. He doesn't think it could possibly be real, but he takes a chance and finds out is IS real and he is now the king. The book about Mistaya is several books later after Ben (the king) has a daughter. Mistaya is a selfish brat. Granted, she's a teenager and many teenagers are brats, but Mistaya doesn't seem to become a better person in this book. She does a tiny, tiny bit. But I still wasn't really rooting for her at the end. I still liked the book though.
So what do the good/bad characters have in common? For the good, they all seem to be pretty comfortable in their own skin and fight for what's right. They all have their flaws, of course, but that makes them more down-to-earth. From my least favorite list, all of these characters are not relatable. I have a hard time rooting for someone who's super moody, or is too perfect, or has everything and is still a jerk.
What are some of your favorite female protagonists? What about them make them stand out in your mind?