It would be a crime to miss this topic. I would turn have to in my estrogen badge, which would result in absolutely nothing because that hypothetical badge also means nothing. So it follows.
Once again my resolution fails me and I’m stuck catching up to Top 5 Wednesday. I could have skipped ahead, but there’s no way I would have ever missed this category! I, as I happen to be female myself, adore female characters! I’ll admit to mostly reading books written by and about women, and I don’t apologize for it because they're great books!
Top 5 Female Characters
1. Amy Dunne (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn)
Let's begin with Amy Dunne. Okay, I’m not saying that I want to be her, because that would probably put me on a watchlist somewhere that I wouldn't want to be in. Neither am I claiming that Amy Dunne and I are in any way alike (as of this writing, I have yet to successfully frame anyone for anything more serious than a mild case of flatulence, and it totally wasn’t me SHUT UP). However, you know it and I know it but deep down inside every girl here (and possibly every boy, too) can relate to Amy and the insane amount of things society demands a girl to be, rather than just being herself. Gillian Flynn did something special when she sought to create someone so flawed, despicable, and more than a little sociopathic, yes, but you can't help rooting for a girl who makes plans that go so far ahead that she’s basically a waifier, less angst-ridden version of Batman. I can’t even make up my mind about what to do this weekend. Probably nothing.
2. Liadan (Son of the Shadows, by Juliet Marillier)
So compared to all the other women on this list, Liadan may be a bit different—mostly because she isn’t batshit crazy or liable to go off on a rant at any minute. She’s sensible, she’s kind, she’s got excellent bedside manners and a proper sort of dignity, and she’s stuffed to the gills with tremendous courage. Son of the Shadows is my absolute favorite book and she’s a large part of why. Every time I finish it, I need at least a few days before I even think of picking up another book. Wee sheltered thing that she is, she still managed to ensnare the heart of the notorious tattooed bandit leader, command and heal his hooligan men, and, when all hope seemed lost, haul that unconscious (yet still gorgeous) bastard on her freaking back through treacherous nighttime swamplands WHILE carrying her infant son and being chased by dogs and the sickest bastard since Black Jack Randall. I mean, what have I accomplished lately? I don’t know. Also probably nothing.
3. Sharon Li (Magicals Anonymous Series, by Kate Griffin)
Sharon, one-time barista and pint-sized Community Support Officer of the purple boots, restores my faith in humanity. She may be a knower of truth and a shaman (in training) of considerable potential but her real superpower is Minutiae Management and Self-Help arcana. In the face of evil deities and bottomless corporate greed, she maintains that a relentlessly optimistic outlook and an open mind regarding everyone’s shortcomings (be they constantly decaying flesh, an obsession with dental hygiene, or inconveniently timed psychosomatic allergies) will result in optimal positivity and maybe everyone won’t end up dead (fingers crossed). Yes, she often ends up responsible for defeating an ominous evil threatening London, but that doesn't mean that arranging a singles night for the members of Magicals Anonymous and making sure everyone’s favorite biscuits are available at the next support meeting aren’t just as important, you know? I do love a protagonist with the right kind of priorities.
4. Sophie Hatter (Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones)
Yes, Howl is the flashier of the pair, but I like the idea that, in spite of her situation being intended as a curse and a punishment, Sophie’s transformation into an old woman actually freed her from her meek, timid life and finally allowed her to become her true self: a crochety old woman.
Because that is me. I am the crochety old woman—it's just that no one’s cursed me into looking like it yet. With very little exaggeration, I declare that Sophie is how I feel every single day of my life. Sophie is me when she’s exasperated with Howl’s narcissistic dramatics, she's me when she’s bossing people around because they’re just not being practical enough, when she’s suppressing a million catatonic Howl-induced swoons with a prickly exterior and a waspish tone because god forbid she reveals how she truly feels. I may look like a spry young thing (okay maybe not spry, I haven't gone for a run in ages) in the full bloom of youth and vigor but in truth, I am Sophie Hatter.
5. Amaranthe (Emperor's Edge Series, by Lindsay Buroker)
Amaranthe may be a match for Sharon in sheer, relentless optimism, which is her second secret superpower. Her first is the ability to somehow blow things up no matter what happens, and you can’t say that a woman who trails fiery death and destruction along in her wake is ever boring. Be it a weird spaceship of ancient origins or a highly advanced underwater facility, if Amaranthe is anywhere near it, you know it’s gonna blow up. Yet, though it may be far less attention grabbing due to the smaller amount of large-scale destruction it causes, her optimism is also why I really like her. She believes that she and her friends in the Emperor’s Edge really can make a difference, and hardly ever wavers from her path. She has the solid brass ovaries to fall in love with Sicarius, deadly assassin and nightmare to all the little children who’ve been naughty. And when Sicarius rebuffs her because obviously she’s crazy, she STILL persists in this singular madness until he agrees that it might not be so crazy at all.
Stopping at five is SO DIFFICULT. As hard as getting up to work is going to be tomorrow, in all likelihood, and that requires gargantuan amounts of willpower. With my well-sculpted jaw tensed under the herculean effort of holding back all my favorite fictional ladies, I conclude this post. Marvel at my restraint.
Girl power, indeed!