1. Anne from Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
Though she doesn’t get into any actual punch-ups in the sleepy town of Avonlea, Anne’s got as much spunk and sass as any weaponised heroine. I love her work.
2. Smilla from Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
The resourceful Smilla she gets into some pretty hairy fisticuff sessions on her way to the Arctic to solve the mystery of the death of her neighbour’s child.
3. Mara from Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing
Mara and her brother Dann face untold dangers as they journey north through Africa, fleeing drought. Mara uses wits and guts to take on everything from giant bugs and crocodiles to pimps and soldiers in this epic adventure.
4. Alicia from The Passage by Justin Cronin
Okay, I know, I manage to include this book in every list I make, but Alicia is one tough cookie! She faces off against the ‘virals’ (zombie-vampires) with her trusty crossbow and she takes them out left, right and centre. Killing it!
5. Esther from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
In Plath’s taut and witty semi-autobiographical debut novel, Esther fights valiantly against the baddie within – depression.
6. Marina from State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Marina has no idea what she is letting herself in for when she travels from Minnesota to the Brazilian jungle in search of her missing colleague. Marina uses her considerable intelligence and a courage she didn’t know she possessed to meet the foes she encounters which are as much psychological as physical.
7. Tally from Black Glass by Meg Mundell
Abruptly orphaned and separated from her sister, Tally has to be tough and savvy to survive life as a homeless ‘undoc’ on the mean streets of Mundell’s darkly-imagined future-Melbourne.
8. Lucinda from Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
The gutsy and single-minded Lucinda is one of my favourite heroines of all time, carving her own singular path through mid-nineteenth century Sydney.
9. Ren and Toby from The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Ren and Toby get their hands dirty in ways they never imagined in order to survive the wreckage of the bio-plague that sweeps America in Atwood’s gritty sequel to Oryx and Crake.
10. Katniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A list of kick-ass heroines could NOT be complete without Katniss. I mean, could you win a fight to the death against 24 people? She is the kiddie! If only she wasn’t embroiled in a teen love triangle I would have followed her to the end.
Who are your favourite book heroines? Let me know in the comments.
You might also like: Top Ten Books by Australian women writers.
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