Sharon's Final Pick: Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Originally, when Racquel thought up this feature, she did not want us to feature any paranormal / dystopian / fantasy heroines, because they are the obvious choices. We wanted to focus mainly on regular ladies who do not need to Save the World. However, when I first heard about the feature, Katsa popped into my head, and she just wouldn't go away. So I decided to include her, because I think she has a lot of qualities that recommend her to this list.
First of all, the obvious. Katsa has a Grace which enables her to go into hand-to-hand combat against anyone (even multiple people) and come out the victor. Katsa also stands up for the women of the kingdom, teaching them to defend themselves when always before, they have had to rely on men to do all the protecting. Basically, Katsa is just all-around fantastic. But there's even more!
One of my favorite things about Katsa is that she does not want marriage or kids. I can't relate to it even the smallest bit, but I majorly appreciate it. It is nice to see this view for a change, because I do have friends who feel this way. Yet it is a perspective so rarely held by fictional heroines (and if it is, it's only due to being burned, and the heroine happily caves by the end of the story)! Katsa has formed these opinions on her own, because she knows herself. She knows that if she were to try to fit herself into the traditional mold, it would only be hurtful to herself, her partner, and, eventually, her children. Yet she is still insecure, still views herself as not "normal" because of her lack of these desires. At the same time, she doesn't judge others who do desire husbands and children. She simply knows those things are not for her. And she sticks to it, despite her insecurities and the pressure of others.
Lastly, Katsa learns over the course of the story how to be less self-centered and to give of herself to others, which takes much more strength than simply taking all the time. All of these elements combined make Katsa one of the strongest YA heroines I have read to date.
Have you read Graceling? Do you agree with this assessment? Who are some of your favorite strong heroines, from any genre? Why?