The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a prompt and ask book bloggers to answer that prompt in the form of a top ten list.
This week's prompt is something very near and dear to my heart: Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines
Growing up, books were my refuge. I would devour pretty much any book that I came across. It didn't matter what or who the book was about. If it had pages with words on it, it would probably find its way into my hands somehow.
As I got older and became more of a feminist, I became more critical of novels in terms of their portrayal of women. While, as a kid, I didn't pay attention too much to whether or not the female characters were weak or not, today it makes me want to scream every time I read a book with a Catherine or a Bella who can't stand on her own two feet without some man there to hold her up. I want to read books with female characters who are feisty and independent and self-sufficient. I want any daughters I might have to grow up seeing women take care of themselves rather than being constantly saved by some cardboard cutout of what an attractive man is supposed to be.
As always, I'm going to do this prompt a little differently. Along with five heroines that I think are awesomely kick-ass, I'll be listing five heroines that I cannot stand due to their needy, selfish, or oh-so-obnoxious nature.
Without further ado, I present to you my picks for the five best Kick-Ass Heroines in literature and five Heroines that Need to Be Smacked Upside the Head.
Top Five Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines
1) Valkyrie Cain (a.k.a. Stephanie Edgley) from Skulduggery Pleasant: I really can't get through a Top Ten Tuesday list without mentioning these books. Valkyrie is a smart-ass, sarcastic, independent, stubborn girl who can wield magic alongside some of the greatest mages of the day. Trained by the one-and-only Skulduggery Pleasant, Valkyrie stands against evil without needing to lean on a man for help. Sure, she's got a boyfriend but it's not hard to see that she wears the pants in the relationship.
2) Hermione Granger from Harry Potter: Hermione shows young girls that being smart is awesome. The most intelligent young witch of her age, Hermione knows all of the spells that keep Harry and Ron safe. She's the brains of the operation as well as the kind of girl that other people look to for help. That whole Ron and Hermione emo thing during the last couple of books kind of annoyed me, but she's still a strong role model.
3) Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time: Okay, this one's a bit dubious. Meg is very self-conscious and critical of herself. She's also very dependent on her brother, Charles Wallace, and their new-found friend Calvin for the entirety of this book. But she's loyal and loving and fiercely defends her family. In the end it is she who saves the day, showing that people can change and that love is a powerful deterrent to hate. She's a sympathetic character that I grew up identifying with and I think that I found strength in the strength that she discovers.
4) Lady Julia Grey from Silent in the Grave: The protagonist of Deanna Raybourn's addictive Lady Julia novels, this budding detective is far ahead of her time. Although she lives in the stifling Victorian Era, Lady Julia holds her own and doesn't let society hold her down...much. She manages to juggle propriety with her own brand of girl power and I love it.
5) Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief: Liesel is a smart, compassionate young girl living in Germany during World War II. Her story of struggle and survival is beautiful and haunting. I love how she manages to rise above the hatred and horrors that surround her.
Top Five Heroines that Need to Be Smacked Upside the Head
1) Bella Swan from Twilight: Oh, yeah. You knew she was going to make this list. This whiny, needy, dependent, sorry excuse for a heroine drives me up the wall. "Oh, you're going to stalk me? How sexy is that. God, Edward you're so beautiful and the sun shines out your ass." "Oh no! My boyfriend left me. I'm going to go kill myself now." "No one likes me. Well, except for every boy in the school. Le sigh. Life is so hard." "How can I possibly choose between the two of you? Let's see, which sounds more appealing? Necrophilia or bestiality?" She literally cannot do anything for herself. Although, maybe that's because Edward is an abusive, over-bearing boyfriend?
2) Edna Pontellier from The Awakening: The absolute definition of a selfish woman, this pseudo-feminist novel follows the life of an obnoxious woman who complains about just about everything and sleeps with, like, everyone because she thinks that will help her find herself. I am totally all for women exploring their sexuality. Don't get me wrong. My problem is that conflating sex with feminism is ridiculous and insulting. To make it even worse, Edna makes it seem like feminism is about being a bad mother and a horrible wife, which is even more ridiculous and insulting. Hate. Hate. Hate.
3) Juliet from Romeo and Juliet: This girl is, what, 16? Maybe? And she's found one guy she likes out of the, I don't know, hundreds of others that she could possibly meet and they have to be together forever and if not she's going to die? Basically Juliet teaches that boys are the only thing worth living for. Yeah, that's a great lesson for young women. *holds up sarcasm sign*
4) Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights: Bratty. Dithering. Obnoxious. Selfish. Oh, and completely rude to pretty much everyone. Also, she tortures Heathcliff and is basically responsible for his being a drunk wife beater. Awesome. Not.
5) Estella from Great Expectations: This is one of my favorite novels, but Estella is such a jerk that she needs to make this list. I can't even describe how horrible she is to Pip (and pretty much everyone else). She's selfish and rude and thinks that toying with people's affections is fun. Not exactly who I'd want to date, but whatever floats your boat, Pip.