From quiet superhero Hazel Grace to slayer Buffy Summers, Julie Kagawa, author of the Blood of Eden and Iron Fey series, lists her five favorite YA heroines, in no particular order, and reveals why they resonate with her.
1. Karou (Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor): Karou has a complicated backstory. She's a human with an unknown past who was raised by a group of devils that work magic in exchange for teeth, and she falls in love with an angel who happens to be at war with the devils that raised her. Karou is brave and smart and resourceful, and even with her very tangled past, she never loses sight of who she really is.
2. Katniss (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins): Katniss Everdeen needs no introduction. She lived through not one but two Hunger Games, started a revolution, endured everything the Capital threw at her and refused to let the system turn her into something she was not. In the end, she made it through a little scarred and a little heartbroken, but she is a true survivor and will continue to inspire all those around her to greatness.
3. Hazel Grace (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green): Hazel is a quiet kind of superhero. She doesn't have powers, she doesn't live in an oppressed dystopian society, she doesn't wield a sword or fight vampires or demons on a regular basis. She is a perfectly normal teen who happens to have a very terminal cancer. She is entitled to a little self-pity, but she never lets it consume her. She keeps living, and loving, the only way she knows how, because that's all she can do. Even when she faces the worst life can throw at her, she finds a way to soldier on, to keep living, and even to find a little beauty and hope in the midst of it all. And that takes true courage.
4. Ananna (The Assassin's Curse,The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke): Ananna is a pirate. She's snarky. She's crude. She doesn't use proper English. She's also witty, stubborn, and can hold her own while traveling with an assassin she’s linked to by a curse, and a female manticore who likes to eat men. In other words, she's pretty awesome.
5. Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): As a hard-core Whedonite, I compare all other YA heroines to Buffy. Can they kick as much butt as Buffy? Are they as snarky and witty, stubborn and infuriating, brave and resolved and self-sacrificing as Buffy? It's interesting to note that while Buffy dealt with all of the normal teen girl things—including a vampire boyfriend and an obnoxious younger sister—she always did what had to be done. Even sending her boyfriend to hell. Even giving her own life to save her sister. There were moments when she faltered, moments when you wanted to smack her, but she still came through when it mattered. Buffy had all the traits of a kick-ass heroine, and she still raises the bar for all other YA heroines to match.