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Happy International Women’s Day!

We love reading about heroines and leading ladies all through the year, but today we’re taking the time to truly appreciate and celebrate them – in quirky listicle form.  

Our friends over at Date a Book have rounded up six of their favourite YA female protagonists who remind us what women and girls are capable of, in both life and fiction.  


  • Audrey Lee – Break the Fall - Jennifer Iacopelli

    Audrey Lee puts the ‘strong’ in ‘strong female protagonist.’ Literally. She can do like four tumbling passes and a roundoff back handspring. Not only is Audrey a shining example of power and perseverance in the face of adversity, but she’s also a fierce friend and loyal teammate. Gold medals all ‘round.

  • Karou – Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

    Oh Karou. Blue hair, tattoos and a whip-smart sense of humour – what more can you ask for in a fantasy heroine? Caught between the human world and the otherworld, Karou is the ultimate tortured teen, smart and stubborn, in both life and love. And with the 10th publication anniversary of Daughter of Smoke and Bone approaching, we had to pay tribute this ever-relevant revenant.

  • Alina Starkov – Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

    There’s something in Alina Starkov’s story for all women. A lonely, frail orphan in childhood (described by a housekeeper as ‘pale and sour, like a glass of milk that's turned’) she transforms into the almighty Sun Summoner, the most powerful Grisha who has ever lived and the only one capable of destroying the Volcra and the Shadow Fold. Talk about character development.

  • Spensa – Skyward - Brandon Sanderson

    Like many women in this patriarchal world, Spensa is a young girl with a lot to prove. Living in the shadow of her father, a disgraced pilot who died years before, her dreams of passing flight school seem unreachable. But our girl has attitude, passion and dedication and, along with her sassy AI-driven ship M-Bot, she soars about the place, taking on enemies and getting things DONE. A true sci-fi queen.

  • Lillai – The Deathless Girls - Kiran Millwood Hargrave

    There will (hopefully!) come a day when the literary canon starts championing female characters as much as men. But until then, Kiran Millwood Hargrave is doing her bit, unearthing the untold stories of female characters who have been sidelined in literature’s epic narratives. One such woman is Lil, a bride of Dracula who, along with her twin sister Kizzy, is enslaved by the evil Boyar Valcar. Lil is the embodiment of gothic chic, and even develops a romance with one of the other slave girls, Mina, with barely a word exchanged between them. That’s chemistry.

  • Vivian Carter – Moxie - Jennifer Mathieu

    Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a high school administration that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. Cue the greatest all-girl resistance movement ever, featuring friendship, feminist zines and a fight against a sexist system – all spearheaded by our gal, Viv.

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