Best Kick-Ass Female Characters From YA and Children's Fantasy and Science Fiction

A list for voting for the best kick-ass female characters in YA and children's fantasy and science fiction books.

When adding books, please make sure they are in YA or children fantasy or science fiction. Books marketed to adults and non-fantasy/science fiction books will be removed.
1

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2

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3.96 avg rating — 1,108,609 ratings
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3

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4.63 avg rating — 2,109,017 ratings
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4

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4.27 avg rating — 102,136 ratings
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5

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4.17 avg rating — 159,869 ratings
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6

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4.30 avg rating — 507,502 ratings
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7

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4.21 avg rating — 2,529,890 ratings
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8

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4.29 avg rating — 2,151,948 ratings
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9

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3.98 avg rating — 363,516 ratings
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10

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4.13 avg rating — 495,050 ratings
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11

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4.46 avg rating — 5,720,907 ratings
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12

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4.03 avg rating — 2,030,178 ratings
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13

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4.02 avg rating — 829,210 ratings
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14

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4.48 avg rating — 2,080,215 ratings
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15

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4.33 avg rating — 63,067 ratings
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16

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4.30 avg rating — 165,893 ratings
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17

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4.24 avg rating — 1,651,744 ratings
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18

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4.12 avg rating — 145,935 ratings
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19

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4.16 avg rating — 55,097 ratings
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20

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4.15 avg rating — 121,752 ratings
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21

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4.11 avg rating — 1,401,284 ratings
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22

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4.56 avg rating — 2,030,346 ratings
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23

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4.15 avg rating — 76,232 ratings
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24

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4.21 avg rating — 1,833,320 ratings
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25

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4.05 avg rating — 400,896 ratings
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26

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4.29 avg rating — 50,755 ratings
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27

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4.12 avg rating — 145,427 ratings
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28

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4.24 avg rating — 50,325 ratings
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29

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3.84 avg rating — 435,552 ratings
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30

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4.31 avg rating — 43,474 ratings
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31

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4.30 avg rating — 95,477 ratings
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32

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3.87 avg rating — 323,021 ratings
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33

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4.33 avg rating — 705,548 ratings
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34

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3.79 avg rating — 191,937 ratings
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35

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4.25 avg rating — 46,758 ratings
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36

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4.26 avg rating — 76,156 ratings
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37

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3.92 avg rating — 336,092 ratings
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38

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4.29 avg rating — 73,011 ratings
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39

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4.08 avg rating — 194,113 ratings
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40

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4.18 avg rating — 102,387 ratings
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41

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4.03 avg rating — 63,970 ratings
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42

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4.21 avg rating — 47,468 ratings
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43

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4.21 avg rating — 62,282 ratings
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44

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4.08 avg rating — 245,049 ratings
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45

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4.28 avg rating — 53,160 ratings
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46

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4.12 avg rating — 304,021 ratings
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47

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4.29 avg rating — 43,543 ratings
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48

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4.27 avg rating — 81,007 ratings
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49

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4.02 avg rating — 92,700 ratings
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50

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3.86 avg rating — 220,833 ratings
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51

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4.29 avg rating — 93,221 ratings
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52

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4.04 avg rating — 57,633 ratings
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53

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3.86 avg rating — 507,100 ratings
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54

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4.31 avg rating — 50,669 ratings
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55

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4.32 avg rating — 44,633 ratings
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56

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4.22 avg rating — 44,598 ratings
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57

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4.07 avg rating — 413,799 ratings
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58

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4.29 avg rating — 284,261 ratings
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59

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4.32 avg rating — 47,620 ratings
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60

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4.37 avg rating — 304,691 ratings
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61

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4.25 avg rating — 443,609 ratings
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62

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4.19 avg rating — 21,380 ratings
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63

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3.98 avg rating — 50,591 ratings
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64

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4.27 avg rating — 37,537 ratings
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65

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4.15 avg rating — 34,939 ratings
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66

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3.84 avg rating — 816,477 ratings
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67

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3.76 avg rating — 495,344 ratings
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68

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3.82 avg rating — 24,286 ratings
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69

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3.98 avg rating — 313,802 ratings
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70

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4.11 avg rating — 22,385 ratings
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71

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4.03 avg rating — 191,728 ratings
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72

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4.18 avg rating — 362,832 ratings
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73

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3.73 avg rating — 64,967 ratings
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74

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3.69 avg rating — 140,941 ratings
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75

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4.01 avg rating — 35,003 ratings
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76

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3.94 avg rating — 98,524 ratings
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77

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4.06 avg rating — 62,565 ratings
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78

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4.18 avg rating — 86,876 ratings
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79

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3.98 avg rating — 60,667 ratings
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80

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3.96 avg rating — 205,157 ratings
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81

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3.96 avg rating — 61,600 ratings
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82

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3.97 avg rating — 35,777 ratings
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83

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4.15 avg rating — 559,390 ratings
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84

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4.52 avg rating — 9,028 ratings
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85

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4.09 avg rating — 75,310 ratings
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86

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4.10 avg rating — 28,288 ratings
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87

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4.16 avg rating — 30,128 ratings
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88

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3.96 avg rating — 44,601 ratings
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89

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 22,723 ratings
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90

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4.04 avg rating — 104,435 ratings
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91

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4.04 avg rating — 98,430 ratings
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92

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3.77 avg rating — 157,301 ratings
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93

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4.19 avg rating — 38,605 ratings
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94

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3.68 avg rating — 12,094 ratings
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95

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4.20 avg rating — 31,010 ratings
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96

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3.91 avg rating — 30,919 ratings
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97

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3.92 avg rating — 86,331 ratings
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98

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3.82 avg rating — 14,765 ratings
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98

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4.47 avg rating — 342 ratings
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100

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4.40 avg rating — 2,216,675 ratings
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2,563 books · 8,170 voters · list created June 29th, 2008 by Jennifer (votes) .
606 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Jennifer 2313 books
50 friends
Caitlín 1533 books
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Agata 872 books
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Heather 1479 books
37 friends
Haley 3034 books
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elissa 2118 books
347 friends
Sarah 374 books
25 friends
Rita 3487 books
45 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 111 (111 new)


message 1: by Tate (new)

Tate Yay!


message 2: by Seth (last edited Aug 10, 2008 06:30PM) (new)

Seth Hey, this is a really, really great list idea and I love the votes so far. Some of them are for books that are most definitely *not* YA, however (for example, Kushiel's Dart does have a kick-ass female protag, but she's a sexual submissive who sleeps her way through the more sexually perverse ends of the her kingdom, in sometimes-explicit scenes, to spy on nobles).

Any librarian can remove them, but it seems worth discussing first. Any opinions?

The ones I'd recommend removing as of 20080810:

- Kushiel's, for the above-mentioned reasons. Not shelved as YA and many/most readers/parents/librarians wouldn't want it to be.

- Mists of Avalon. Great book and protag, but not shelved as YA anywhere. Might be acceptable, though, since the content is within the YA range for today's students (one slightly explicit sex scene, but that's all that comes to mind as possibly objectionable).

- Weetzie Bat. Okay, I'd love for this one to stay (it's a favorite), but it isn't fantasy.

- Poison Study. Nothing from Luna (the original publisher) is intended for YA--it's Harlequin's fantasy imprint. I would certainly give this to a tween to read*, but I wouldn't call it YA. (It's a great book, though)

- Equal Rites. Not necessarily worth removing, since he didn't have a YA line going at the time, but it's part of the main (not-YA) Discworld series, not the newer YA spin-offs (Maurice and his educated rodents and the Tiffany Aching books)

There are idiots out there who would take a book's presence on a list like that as evidence that it's appropriate for some particular reader, and I'd hate to put the kid through dealing with their adult when they discover what was in the book. I'd love them to read these books, but not to get in trouble over it.


* I'm hard-pressed to think of what I wouldn't give a tween to read, so maybe I'm not the best judge of that side of things.


message 3: by Seth (new)

Seth Okay, I'm going to remove Kushiel's Dart.

It was place #29 and had 4 votes:
T ranked it 3/5 with the comment: phedre!
Otto ranked it 4/6
Willa ranked it 3/4
Laura ranked it 2/4 with the comment: I just wouldn't put this in the "children's" category...

Again, I'm yanking it because the list specifically says YA and while there are books on the list that are not marketed or shelved as YA, Kushiel's isn't even close. It's a good book and the heroine is certainly kick-ass, but generally she's kick-ass by having her ass kicked during an explicit S&M sex scene.

I would hate for someone to be surprised after assuming a book being on this list is YA-appropriate. Well, actually, I'd love them to be surprised by that because they shouldn't be handing their YA-age kids books they haven't looked at, but getting Goodreads involved is not cool.


message 4: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I'm not quite sure how Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle qualifies. I mean, I love the books, but kick-ass is NOT how I would describe her, exactly.


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael Bialys It has to be 12-year old Makenna Gold. The Virago!


message 6: by Seth (new)

Seth I added Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle to my list when I saw her here. "Kick-ass" can mean a lot of things, so I decided that--for her at least--it means uncompromising, unstoppable, clever, caring, and an altogether excellent role model for a young girl (or boy) who won't grow up accepting that things have to be bad.

Kinda makes me want to play a game of cleaning-the-house or something.


message 7: by Alethea (new)

Alethea A I think it's worth noting that Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder will be released as a YA title, along with one of its sequels, Magic Study, this Nov/Dec. I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone younger than 15 as there is some explicit violence. I think YA is appropriate, and I love the main character--she's inspirational for those of us who have suffered abuse and refused to let it defeat us.


message 8: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Any of the Discworld books are appropriate for a YA audience if they are willing to read them. My two sons are age 7 and 10 and listen to the audiobook versions on road trips. They love them and ask to listen to them over and over.


message 9: by Stephen (new)

Stephen What? None of my Catriona books from the Dragonlance YA line? Guess I need a better publicist -- or Cat does. ;-)

Oh, and some of you might be surprised what my wife the librarian shelves as YA and Children's books (including the entire Lord of the Rings - Go Eowyn!). Times have changes, and kids books have gotten "older."

Keep the lists going. (Though there are almost too many choices on 'em.)


message 10: by DaNae (new)

DaNae After Making this list it is clear that I should have a name with a double letter.


message 11: by Wealhtheow (new)

Wealhtheow Jane Austen probably shouldn't be on this list, given that she didn't write fantasy!


message 12: by Jakki (new)

Jakki Wow i really needed this list haha!!! Tamora pierce and trudi canavan are great!


message 13: by Alexa (new)

Alexa Well, I like a Wrinkle In Time. I have read it at least 15 times, and it never gets old! I love Mrs. Whatsit!!!


message 14: by Tamora (new)

Tamora Pierce Seth wrote: "Okay, I'm going to remove Kushiel's Dart.

It was place #29 and had 4 votes:
T ranked it 3/5 with the comment: phedre!
Otto ranked it 4/6
Willa ranked it 3/4
Laura ranked it 2/4 with ..."


I think it's a good call to yank. I love the author and think the series is phenomenal, but YA it's not!



message 15: by Tamora (new)

Tamora Pierce Call me a [email protected], but most of the books on page 3, albeit featuring phenomenal female heroes, are adult books, not YA. There are so many great YAs out there with female heroes--it would be nice to see them get a fair share of recognition!

And thanks, everyone who put ALANNA at the top of the list (for today, at least)! You've made my day!


message 16: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Wizard's First Rule is not a YA. I see it listed near rank 8. There are some pretty heavy torture scenes in that.


message 17: by Denae (new)

Denae Christine I don't know if they rate as fantasy or not, but I'm extremely surprised the Maximum Ride books aren't on here (at least, not that I saw through my skim)


message 18: by Merenwen (new)

Merenwen Twilight should not be on this list. The only strong female characters in that book were the vampires, and they played very small roles in the book!


message 19: by Emma (new)

Emma ^ I agree with that statement: Bella is anything but kickass.

I say add in Candy Quackenbush from the Abarat series by Clive Barker!!! She's awesome! Probably my favorite female character ever.


message 20: by Isaac (new)

Isaac Why is Lyra of His Dark Materials at the top? She just lets Will do all the work.


message 21: by Sarah (new)

Sarah this is an AWESOME list. Not just awesome because it claims to be a list of best women protags, but because it pretty much actually is. unlike a lot of goodreads lists. and check out all that fantasy!


message 22: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Wow, I was surpised to find that I've read close to half these books and they're all great choices.


message 23: by Alyce (new)

Alyce Adding my voice to the chorus that the Twilight books should not be on the list. The books (rightly or wrongly) are popular, they are fantasy but they surely dont qualify as featuring "kick-ass female characters".


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 03, 2009 08:45PM) (new)

what about valkykrie cain or Tanith low they both kickass in skulduggery pleasant


message 25: by Melisa (new)

Melisa There are some really good books on this list. I'd like to suggest The Order of Odd-Fish.


message 26: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn I'll join the consensus in saying that there is no 'kick-ass' female heroine the Twilight books, so I'm going to remove them.

I'm also going to remove the Maximum Ride books by Patterson, since those are not fantasy, they are science fiction (genetically engineered children with wings set in 'today's world).



message 27: by Adam (new)

Adam Graceling, The Hunger Games, The City of Ember, The Wizard of Oz and The Chronichles Of Narnia. (there are about half sci fi and half fantasy here)


message 28: by Adam (new)

Adam As well as Uglies, Midnighters, Double Identity, Runnign out of Time and Found.


message 29: by Reed (new)

Reed I agree with adam. The Hunger Games should definatly be up here! I love the protagonist in that book!


message 30: by Carolyn (last edited Nov 17, 2009 08:16AM) (new)

Carolyn The Hunger Games, City of Ember, and Uglies are all science fiction though, so they shouldn't be on this list. Can't speak to Double Identity, Running Out of Time, or Found (the latter two are on the list already, on the last page.)


message 31: by Adam (new)

Adam Carolyn wrote: "The Hunger Games, City of Ember, and Uglies are all science fiction though, so they shouldn't be on this list. Can't speak to Double Identity, Running Out of Time, or Found (the latter two are on t..."

Yeah, I know, but half of these are already sci fi, so what the heck? you might as well vote.


message 32: by Adam (new)

Adam Carolyn wrote: "The Hunger Games, City of Ember, and Uglies are all science fiction though, so they shouldn't be on this list. Can't speak to Double Identity, Running Out of Time, or Found (the latter two are on t..."

Yeah, I know, but half of these are already sci fi, so what the heck? you might as well vote.


message 33: by Adam (new)

Adam Carolyn wrote: "The Hunger Games, City of Ember, and Uglies are all science fiction though, so they shouldn't be on this list. Can't speak to Double Identity, Running Out of Time, or Found (the latter two are on t..."

Yeah, I know, but half of these are already sci fi, so what the heck? you might as well vote.


message 34: by Chara (new)

Chara wow! GREAT LIST! not really surprised 2 realise i've read at least half of these. anything and everything by Tamora Pierce sould be at the top though! she rocks! also, ancient future trilogy by traci harding and obernewtyn chronicles by isobelle carmody should probably b on here somewhere! they're awesome! and so is white tiger by kylie chan!


message 35: by Adam (new)

Adam Hunger Games defintetly numba one. where is it???


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

ADD SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT BECAUSE OF TAIHITH LOW AND VALKYRIE CAIN THEY KILL EVERYTHING


message 37: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie Just curious what strong female is in The Graveyard Book.Great book but doesn't seem to go here.


message 38: by Imani ♥ ☮ (new)

 Imani ♥ ☮ pippi longstockings?


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

VALKYRIE CAIN


message 40: by Katherine (new)

Katherine As wonderful as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is, it's not really fantasy...


message 41: by Emily (new)

Emily Where's the Hunger Games? That series has one of the strongest female characters I've ever read!!!


message 42: by Jenn (new)

Jenn How are Series of Unfortunate Events on here?! Defintiely not fantasy! Same with True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle! Yes, the girls in these books are amazingly kick ass, but not fantasy!


message 43: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Newell Unfortunately, "Anne Frank" is not a fantasy. This world would definitely be a better place if what happened to the Frank family (and too, too many others) was a work of fiction, but it's not.

While I do think the book is *absolutely* a great choice for YA readers, may I politely request that it be removed from this list of fantasy characters?


message 44: by Frank (new)

Frank Exactly how is Artemis Fowl a heroine book??? And it is ranked 19 as well!!


message 45: by Jane (new)

Jane Jenn wrote: "...Same with True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle! Yes, the girls in these books are amazingly kick ass, but not fantasy!"

I was slightly confused myself how True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is fantasy. YA, yes. Fantasy? erm... if you dream in pirate??? It has a lot of votes but I read it and I wouldn't count it on this list.


message 46: by Kiki (new)

Kiki Who the heck voted for Luce?


[I wish Kagome was on this list...]


message 47: by Lemur (new)

Lemur Susie wrote: "Just curious what strong female is in The Graveyard Book.Great book but doesn't seem to go here."

i guess it does have Death as a woman....not that she shows up too often...


message 48: by Kaitlyn (new)

Kaitlyn I am overwhelmingly pleased at the lack of Twilight on this list.


message 49: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Kaitlyn wrote: "I am overwhelmingly pleased at the lack of Twilight on this list."

I really wanted to like that comment, but then I realized that I'm not on Facebook...


message 50: by Lianne (last edited Nov 30, 2011 07:00PM) (new)

Lianne Love the list. Alanna and Katniss rule. Can't wait to read the titles that are new to me.

What, no Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith? Maybe I missed it on the first pass.

Some newer titles that deserve to be included:
Starcrossed and Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Among Others by Jo Walton


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