I wrote my novel, The Rift Uprising, with one character in mind: a young woman whom my daughters could look up to—a fiercely intelligent kickass heroine, who is as protective as she is brave. And a little nerdy too.
Ryn, my main character, is that heroine. She’s strong and capable of making split-second decisions about what needs to be done. She does the best she can in whatever situation she finds herself in. I also wanted to create a character who would be unburdened by the guilt that the violence required as part of her job may cause. As a teenage soldier, I needed Ryn to be able to shoot first and ask questions later—to do what needs to be done and handle a crisis when the situation requires it.
I look up to characters like Ryn, and I find myself drawn to books and movies that establish badass ladies in the same type of way. That was why it was so important for me to highlight these types of characters—these warrior women who are just as capable of getting the job done than a man.
When choosing this list, I wanted to pick characters who met the criteria I set out when creating Ryn and if I could, I would have gone way beyond five books. There are so many amazing female characters who get stuff done!
Melaka Fray (Fray by Joss Whedon)
Set in Whedon’s comic-verse, Fray introduced us to Melaka Fray, a vampire slayer from the future—and a thief. Despite having no prophetic dreams of the slayers, as others had in the past, and no idea of how to use her gifts, Mel is one tough cookie, able to roll with the (literal) punches and do what’s necessary to survive. Protective of her family (what’s left of it) and her friends, Mel will do anything—including fighting a number of demons, vampires, and her own twin—to live up to her slayer potential.
Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas)
Celaena is a take-no-prisoners warrior. Once an assassin, Celaena is liberated from imprisonment in the salt mines in order to compete with other assassins and thieves for a chance to work as the Kingdom’s champion. Despite her job, she has strict morals and lines she refuses to cross. But with a hot temper, she can be vengeful when you cross her or dare threaten anyone she cares for—not two traits you want to see in a teenage assassin that’s coming after you!
Lisbeth Salander (The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson)
This list couldn’t exist without Lisbeth Salander. She’s the epitome of a “shoot first, ask questions later” kind of gal. Even if she doesn’t shoot so much as hack, using her computer skills to freelance and track down criminals, especially those who abuse and harass women. Many of the acts that Lisbeth commits could be considered barbaric but, in her eyes she’s dispensing justice. When she reaches for that gun (or keyboard) it feels like she’s doing it on behalf everyone who’s ever been violated or victimized.
June Iparis (The Legend Series by Marie Lu)
Not only is June a genius—she scored the highest marks on her Trial, a test that designates where in society you end up. After her only brother and caretaker is murdered, June vows vengeance, desperate to track down the person responsible. She is cunning and logical, and ruthless in her pursuit of the person who took her brother from her. Just look at June’s mindset: “I will hunt you down. I will scour the streets of Los Angeles for you. Search every street in the Republic if I have to. I will trick you and deceive you, lie, cheat and steal to find you, tempt you out of your hiding place, and chase you until you have nowhere else to run. I make you this promise: your life is mine.”
Constance Verity (The Last Adventure of Constance Verity by A. Lee Martinez)
Constance “Connie” Verity is taught at a young age to shoot first and ask questions later—the only way she can survive. When she was three hours old, she was blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) by a Fairy Godmother who gave her what every kid grows up wanting: a life of adventure. From the age of seven, Connie kicks ass and saves the world time and time again on so many adventures that at twenty-eight, she’s so over it. She wants a normal life—and to achieve it goes on one last adventure: to kill her fairy godmother and break the curse.
Amy S. Foster is a celebrated songwriter, best known as Michael Bublé’s writing partner, and has collaborated with Destiny’s Child, Diana Krall, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and a host of other artists. She is also the author of the novel When Autumn Leaves. When she’s not in a studio in Nashville, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Her latest novel, The Rift Uprising, is available now.