9 Strong Female Characters We Can’t Get Enough Of

Not all female protagonists are damsels. This week, the Bookstr team shares which strong female characters they think are tough as nails.

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It could just be us, but we think there is nothing better than that moment of solidarity we feel when reading a book whose female protagonist utterly dominates. Women aren’t simpering and cowering in the corner, awaiting the knight in shining armor to carry them off into the sunset. We’d rather help with the ass-kicking and have a voice alongside those who agree with our views. So we took a poll and below are 9 of our favorite strong female characters.

Annabeth Chase – Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Book Cover, The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) a series by Rick Riordan

Annabeth Chase is one of my favorite characters in the entire Riordanverse. I grew up with her and she’s literally brains, brawn, and beauty all rolled into one. Percy would have died without Annabeth in the first five seconds of his first quest. She’s an inspiration for so many girls and has been depicted on both the big screen and the stage, and will appear soon in the upcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians Disney Plus series. She’s the demigod daughter of Athena, a badass fighter, strategist, architect, and person. I can’t wait for the upcoming Percy Jackson Book 6 by Rick Riordan, where Annabeth, Percy, and Grover will appear once again. As Percy would say, “I learned a long time ago: Never bet against Annabeth.”

-Emily Gumal, Editorial

Evelyn Hugo – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Book Cover, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

While I read this novel more recently, there is always something so empowering and freeing about reading about a complex woman who doesn’t apologize for her complexities. Evelyn is and isn’t a bitch––she’s compassionate when she wants to be, and rough when she needs to be. She can be both soft and hard and has so much confidence in herself that it’s impossible not to like her, or at least respect her. I admire her so much, especially because of her pride in her bisexuality –– even when it precipitated so many fights and issues between her and Celia St. James, Evelyn never let herself be squared into anything she didn’t feel. Being bisexual myself, Evelyn’s strength of character inspires me deeply to be just as strong in my convictions.

-Dani Shembesh, Editorial

Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

Book Cover, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

She’s the definition of a BADASS. Katniss is my childhood as this was the series I grew up watching. Not to mention, the adaptations were soooo good, and Jennifer Lawrence killed it as the role. Katniss provided for her family when her father died and her mother fell into a deep depression. She then volunteered as tribute for her little sister, not knowing if she would even survive. Katniss not only protected her sister, she also gave safety to Peeta. No matter the situation, Katniss would protect who she loves and she wouldn’t hold back. Every time I think of a powerful woman in fiction, I instantly think of Katniss for those reasons. She’s resilient, brave, strong, and an independent woman that everyone should look up to. 

-Sierra Jackson, Editorial

Eowyn – The Lord of The Rings

Book Cover, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Eowyn is a progressive character within Tolkien’s world. She behaves with the dignity of a king. She consistently puts her duty to her people first, is proficient in weaponry, and rules with the strength and grace her male contemporaries could only dream of attaining. So staunch in her beliefs that she should protect her people in battle, she disguises herself as a man and goes to war with the rest of the warriors, despite the decree of her king. This decision leads to the death of the Witch-King, which only she could have done per prophecy, and led to the salvation of her people.

-Kristi Eskew, Editorial

Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon – Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

Book Cover, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

I’ve decided to be unconventional and talk about one of my favorite female main characters and that’s Usagi Tsukino. On the surface, she’s not the first person that you would pick to become a superhero given that she’s lazy and a crybaby and quite bad at superheroing. However, it’s her innate kindness and desire to protect the people that she loves in spite of such overwhelming odds at times that gives me strength to keep going. She’s an unconventional hero in every sense of the word and she’s all the stronger for it. I love Usagi and will always look to her for strength to keep on fighting in my own personal battles.

-Brock Mackinnis, Editorial

Inej Ghafa – Six of Crows

Book Cover, Six of Crows Leigh Bardugo

With the second season of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone coming out this month, I thought I’d take this opportunity to gush about one of my favorite characters from the Grishaverse, Inej “The Wraith” Ghafa. Born into a nomadic community of people called the Suli, Inej was a talented acrobat and high-wire walker before being kidnapped by slavers at 14. These slavers took her to another country and Inej was forced to work in a brothel before her indenture was bought by a high-ranking member of a local gang. To pay off her debt to the gang, she becomes the best assassin in the city while holding fast to her faith and morality throughout her new, dangerous life. She is quiet, highly adaptable, and a devoted friend to those who have earned her trust. Furthermore, once she regains her freedom, Inej becomes the captain of a ship that hunts down slave traders and brings them to justice. Her character is so well-written in the books, and actress Amita Suman is excellent as Inej in the show. Besides, what is there not to love about a woman who names her knives after saints?

-Cara Hadden, Editorial

Hua Mulan – The Ballad of Mulan


Mulan hid her true self for years until the world was ready to not only accept but also acknowledge her as she truly is and not as something else. The world she lived in lifted anything obscuring their ability to see her as her true self, no matter how hard or uncomfortable that made others feel. She made it so that the truth would be acknowledged as it truly is and not through rose-colored glasses. I really admire her willpower, her strength, determination, her passion, her willingness to fight for what she believed in, and stand up for herself.

-Christina Hardesty, Graphics, Instagram & Facebook

Lucrezia de’ Medici – The Marriage Portrait

Book Cover, The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell

I was especially empowered by this female main character because she was a real-life historical figure, which gave the fictionalized story much more weight. The author’s historical research surrounding this young woman’s short life during the 16th century cinched this vibrant yet tragic novel for me. Lucrezia as a protagonist was so enrapturing because she is the perfect example of a young woman finding strength and self-affirmation under incredibly repressive circumstances. The life that she was forced into as a noblewoman, including the man she was forced to marry, does not define her. Her legacy is one born of her own mind and art and intellect. She was definitely a trailblazer in her own right, and I’m glad this author brought her back into historical memory all these centuries after her death. 

-Erin Shea, Editorial

Calypso – The Sea Queen

Book Cover, The Sea Queen by Jovee Winters

strong female characters, female protagonist

Growing up, I was the kind of kid who believed that Disney villains should have happy endings as their crimes weren’t as bad as they seemed through the eyes of the “heroes.” So you can imagine my excitement when I found Jovee Winter’s The Sea Queen. The book is a twisted spin on fairy tales & greek mythology featuring Calypso– depicted as a primordial goddess in the series– who is unapologetically a badass. She is the type of woman who knows what she wants and will take it no matter the circumstances. In addition, Calypso wasn’t the type to be in other businesses as she kept to herself in the beginning & only got involved when it involved her or her own: a trait I relate with in my day-to-day. Calypso is fiercely loyal to those she deems close to her as she is a loving mother, faithful lover, encouraging friend & a somewhat okay sister. I can confidently say Calypso is one of the fictional role models I still strive to be today.

-Jhade Gales, Graphics

Want to read more about what we think? Click here to read about Literary Couples We Love to Loath.