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YA fantasies with strong female MCs

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I have an acquaintance who (rather pigheadedly) insists that all YA fantasy consists of "Twilight knockoffs" (her words)--high school settings, ordinary, wimpy female lead characters in love with powerful supernatural guys...or urban fantasy type settings where the wimpy female character is in love with the powerful supernatural guy... so I'd like to present her with a list of YA fantasies that (a) do not have a modern high school or urban fantasy setting (historical or fantastical setting preferred) and (b) where the female main character is the one with the supernatural powers and is not a dishrag...and just might be the one to save the day (and the guy).  Besides the obvious (Graceling, Hunger Games), what books do you recommend that follow these guidelines (because of course, all possible titles immediately flew out of my head when I strated to reply)?  Extra points for Blueboarders' books, of course!    :thanks2
#1 - September 13, 2011, 03:38 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
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Elizabeth Bunce, yo! Both A CURSE DARK AS GOLD and STARCROSSED (and presumably LIAR'S MOON too, when it releases). PLAIN KATE also features a fabuluus non-dishrag female MC.

Oh, there's also Cindy Pon's books, SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX. And how about Malinda Lo's ASH and HUNTRESS?

And to get a little old-school, Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy has one of the best take-no-prisoners female MCs ever.
#2 - September 13, 2011, 03:43 PM
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 03:50 PM by Mike Jung »

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How about EON by Alison Goodman and BLOODHOUND by Tamora Pierce and for a more "modern"(dystopian)  take, DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth.
#3 - September 13, 2011, 04:06 PM
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 04:36 PM by valeriek »
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EON: THE LAST DRAGONEYE by Alison Goodman
SABRIEL by Garth Nix
THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Philip Pullman
ELSKE by Cynthia Voigt
THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy
Anything by Tamora Pierce
#4 - September 13, 2011, 04:11 PM
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My daughter recommends:

Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

And I recommend that you slap this person.
#5 - September 13, 2011, 04:21 PM

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Also, The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima (THE DEMON KING, THE EXILED QUEEN, THE GREY WOLF THRONE) There is more than one main character (a boy and a girl)  but I think the female is strong.

Oh! And THE VESPERTINE by Saubdra Mitchell!
#6 - September 13, 2011, 04:33 PM
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 04:35 PM by valeriek »
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Tyger Tyger by...me. :) Very smart, competent female lead.

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#7 - September 13, 2011, 05:11 PM

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Add to those excellent suggestions Rae Carson's new THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORN, in which a wimp grows into a strong leader. And of course Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books. And Robin McKinley's THE BLUE SWORD and THE HERO AND THE CROWN; LeGuin's TEHANU and THE OTHER WIND; and Voigt's JACKAROO and ON FORTUNE'S WHEEL (glad ELSKE already made the list!).
#8 - September 13, 2011, 05:13 PM

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The Icemark Chronicles by Stuart Hill
The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

These are the ones I thought of off the top of my head. Personally, I don't think Holly Black has ever written a wimpy female. Tithe, Valiant, and Iron Side all have powerful girl MCs. It actually seems to me like YA fantasy writers are going out of their way to write strong female characters.
#9 - September 13, 2011, 05:46 PM

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This is great--thank you!  Keep 'em coming!
#10 - September 13, 2011, 05:51 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

updog

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Hawksong and the rest in that series by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (no high school or urban setting, and both the male and female leads are shapeshifters )
#11 - September 13, 2011, 06:10 PM

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Off the top of my head, I second the recs for Tamora Pierce, Eon, and Plain Kate and will add Shannon Hale, Chime by Franny Billingsly, and Mistwood by Leah Cypess.
#12 - September 13, 2011, 06:41 PM

Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy
Kate Constable's Chanters of Tremais

#13 - September 14, 2011, 06:51 AM
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BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young definitely fits the bill. The MC becomes a famous cage fighter and also saves both her brother and her love interest. (She and the love interest take turns saving each other, but still. She would probably murder anyone who called her "a dishrag.")

Scott Westerfeld's books don't seem to have been mentioned yet. The LEVIATHAN series and the UGLIES series deserve to be on your list since they both have girl a$$-kickers. Although maybe they're more SF than fantasy?

THE REVENANT by Sonia Gensler is in a high school, but it's a Cherokee school a hundred years ago and the MC has lied about her identity in order to pose as a teacher. I don't think it could be considered a TWILIGHT knockoff under any circumstances.

Also, the EVERLOST series by Neal Shusterman has a girl bad guy and a girl good guy along with a guy good guy and a guy bad-guy-turned-good-guy.

Also, hooray to you Cynthia Voigt fans! I second all of those books. Plus a bunch of the others that have already been mentioned.
#14 - September 14, 2011, 08:31 PM
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 07:09 PM by Melissa K »
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Ooooh, so many great suggestions. Ice by Sarah Beth Durst almost meets all the requirements (the male has the supernatural powers, but the female is the main character and is anything but a dishrag!).
#15 - September 20, 2011, 01:50 PM
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BLACKBRINGER and SILKSINGER by Laini Taylor
#16 - September 20, 2011, 01:59 PM
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I'll second Bunce's STARCROSSED. And if you want a book that has nothing at all to do with Twilight, try Alison in RJ Anderson's ULTRAVIOLET. The male love interest might be a little...unusual, but it's Alison who saves the day. It's a really unusual (and fabulous!) book, one I definitely recommend.
#17 - September 20, 2011, 04:53 PM

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I have an acquaintance who (rather pigheadedly) insists that all YA fantasy consists of "Twilight knockoffs" (her words)--high school settings, ordinary, wimpy female lead characters in love with powerful supernatural guys...or urban fantasy type settings where the wimpy female character is in love with the powerful supernatural guy... so I'd like to present her with a list of YA fantasies that (a) do not have a modern high school or urban fantasy setting (historical or fantastical setting preferred) and (b) where the female main character is the one with the supernatural powers and is not a dishrag...and just might be the one to save the day (and the guy).  Besides the obvious (Graceling, Hunger Games), what books do you recommend that follow these guidelines (because of course, all possible titles immediately flew out of my head when I strated to reply)?  Extra points for Blueboarders' books, of course!    :thanks2

Sooo, obviously she hasn't read much, huh?  The lists of books recommended should make her rethink her stance ... and that is a good thing.  We need better informed readers out there :mob :)
#18 - October 04, 2011, 04:27 PM
« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 04:29 PM by kiboyd »

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I love strong YA fantasy heroines! There's the Study series by Maria V. Snyder and I'm looking forward to Queen of Glass by S.J. Maas which doesn't come out until next year.
I think there's also Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. Anything by Tamora Pierce and perhaps The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.
#19 - October 04, 2011, 04:42 PM

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Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and it's sequel, Enna Burning. . .love those. . .as well as her book, Princess Academy. All strong female heroines. The Folk Keepers by Frannie Billingsley. . .for MG readers, "The Secret of Zoom," by  Lynne Jonell and Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge. . .the list goes on!

Can't wait to read some of the books mentioned on this list!

Lisa



#20 - October 04, 2011, 04:43 PM
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Mistwood & Nightspell, both by... me. (Someone already mentioned Mistwood - thank you!)

Mistwood = supernatural female possibly in love with arguably wimpy guy. Or maybe she'll just kill him. She's not sure yet.

Nightspell = barbarian princess who really doesn't have time to be courted by the hot prince. She's too busy trying to save her sister. Also, she doesn't think the hotness makes up for the fact that he's a ghost. (Though to be fair, I've gotten lots of complaints from YA bloggers about Nightspell having no romance...)
#21 - October 06, 2011, 06:02 PM

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Marissa, did you ever give your friend the list of books? If so, did she change her opinions at all? Just curious...
#22 - October 06, 2011, 07:39 PM
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Oh, I definitely agree with:

Scott Westerfeld's books don't seem to have been mentioned yet. The LEVIATHAN series and the UGLIES series deserve to be on your list since they both have girl a$$-kickers. Although maybe they're more SF than fantasy?
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.
SABRIEL by Garth Nix
Add to those excellent suggestions Robin McKinley's THE BLUE SWORD and THE HERO AND THE CROWN;; and Voigt's JACKAROO and ON FORTUNE'S WHEEL .

Yes, yes, yes! All of these. Sorry ... I'm late to the game.

I know it is more sci-fi than fantasy, but what about Maximum Ride by James Patterson?
Also ... not necessarily strictly YA ... but The Glasswright's Apprentice by Mindy L. Klasky
Beauty by Robin McKinley
#23 - February 18, 2012, 12:21 AM
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How about GRACELING by Kristin Cashore? Also, the CLAIDI JOURNALS series by Tanith Lee. Lots of other great titles already mentioned, but those popped into my head.

#24 - February 18, 2012, 03:39 AM
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