Discussion: Strong Female Characters

Yes, I usually reserve discussion posts for weekends, but why not start the weekend a little early this week?

Anyway, what I want to talk about this week is strong female characters, particularly in YA.  Sometimes you encounter a genuinely strong female character that can fall in love and yet not depend on her man to solve all of her problems.  Other times, not so much.  You end up getting a Faux Action Girl who is always described as tough by the author and other characters but never actually does anything.  Well, except get rescued by the male lead.

My latest favourite strong female character is QuiTai from The Devil of Ponong series by Jill Braden.  She isn’t physically strong, but she uses her wits to help her conquered people and stay one step ahead of the Thampurians.  I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s just say that when it comes down to a choice between a man and the livelihoods of her people you aren’t in much doubt as to what she’s going to choose.  QuiTai was awesome in the first book, The Devil’s Concubine and even better in the second book, The Devil Incarnate.  She’s definitely taken a well-deserved place among my favourite heroines.

So my question for you guys this week is: What makes a strong female character?  Who are your favourite heroines?  Why?

As always, discussion posts are posts where you’re absolutely free to engage with myself and/or other commenters.  My Commenting Policy still applies, but that just encompasses what I like to call “basic human decency”.


  1. greencat365

    Hermione Granger. I was the same age as the characters when the books came out, and she just spoke to my experience going through high school as a nerdy girl.

  2. Kelley

    I always find it difficult to try to define a strong female character, but *I know it when I see it* — you know? Some of my favorites are Serena from You Are Mine, Elisa from the Fire & Thorns series, and Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles!

    • Carrie Slager

      Yay Cinder and Serena! Yes, it’s definitely hard to define a strong female character, but like you I’d say you know one when you see one. Part of a strong female character for me is that she has to be capable of doing something on her own. (Without the male love interest stepping in to save her all of the time!)

  3. bookhostage

    I think one of my favorite is Claire from Outlander. She is strong mentally and usually emotionally. She’s not a warrior but she can hold her own.

    I’ll also agree with greencat365 with Hermione. She is also mentally strong.

    • Rebecca Vance

      I so agree with you! I love, love, love the Outlander series. I am on book 7 right now, An Echo in the Bone. She is a very strong character and has withstood many heartbreaks and she knows that there are many more ahead of her, yet she perseveres. Great example! 🙂

  4. Diantha Jones (@DianthaJones)

    What’s a strong female character? Like you said, actually being as bad ass as the author says they are. I think Katniss from Hunger Games is someone who lived up to the author’s definition of her. MacKayla from KMM’s Fever series is awesome and so is Xhex from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Xhex is my #1 choice over every female character I’ve ever encountered. She rocks the world.

    • Carrie Slager

      Katniss was good in the beginning, but I really didn’t like her by the last book. (More of a personal preference, I know.) But seriously Diantha, you have to read The Devil of Ponong series by Jill Braden. You’ll just love QuiTai! And hey, it’s unique fantasy that isn’t Eurocentric!

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  6. Grace

    I like Kristin Cashore’s character Bitterblue because she’s a strong female character, but not in the traditional way. I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, and a lot of authors equate “strong” to being badass with a sword. Being a good diplomat/healer/etc. can be equally as impressive.

    • Carrie Slager

      That reminds me that I still have to read Bitterblue! It’s so true about the whole powerful=good warrior. That’s why I like QuiTai in The Devil of Ponong series so much. She can kick your butt if she has to, but she’s a heck of a lot more talented at diplomacy and scheming. She’s definitely more multifaceted than a lot of Action Girls who only know how to physically kick butt yet depend on a man for all of their emotional fulfillment.

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