This series features a strong female protagonist who does not rely on a male to solve her problems. Alexia starts the book by defending herself from an ostensibly stronger male attacker, and never slows down.
Hines’ brilliant reimagining of the classic fairy tale characters brings Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty into a whole new feminist light.
Instead of the prince having to save the princess, it’s the other way round! We join Princess Danielle not long after the famous Cinderella courtship, as Prince Armand is kidnapped by Danielle’s jealous stepsisters. Snow is a brilliant sorceress and Talia (Sleeping Beauty) is an assassin who aid her in the quest to rescue the prince. Each of the three women have a less than fairy tale upbringing, with Talia’s background especially gritty and steeped in betrayal and rape (a hefty, but well handled theme for a YA book).
Each woman has abilities that compliment the other, and a major theme of the book is about them learning to work as a team, teach each other new skills, and value friendship. The book is also not hung up on romance, leaving the women to explore many different facets of female relationships without the standard trope of them fighting over a man!
Followed by three equally brilliant sequels, a YA series must.
Jemisin’s Inheritence Trilogy features a range of feminist characters, male and female. She examines such themes as genderqueer and LGB characters, matters of race, and disability (as in the 2nd book, The Kingdom of Gods).
In The 100K Kingdoms, Yeine is a WoC from a matriarchal society sent to explore her connection to the ruling family that oversee all the lands. As she negotiates politics, her burgeoning magic and myriad love interests, she struggles to match her independent nature with that of the gods which wish to consume her autonomy.
Throughout the Empire series, we see Mara grow from being the head of her clan to a major political power in her land.
The story synchs up with Feist’s “Magician”, and part of Mara’s power comes from negotiating trade and magic between the two dimensions.
While Mara must use her sexual prowess and marriagability to build her power base, as she grows older and more comfortable with her power she sheds the rules of her society to become a force to be reckoned with.
This story follows the lives of three young independent apprentice women as they struggle to make a living in the big city. Mostly following the story of tailor Velody, she discovers she has hidden magic which makes her a part of an elite cadre of magicians who, using their animal metamorphosis, protect the city from wild magic.
There is a major subplot where one of the women is raped, and it shapes how she interacts with the world and her friends for the rest of the story. It is handled with sensitivity and care.
Velody is a major feminist heroine because she refuses to become a puppet of the male magicians, and continues her career as a tailor alongside her education as a magician and protector. There is also a major romance plot in the story in which she takes control of the affair, refusing to bow to the control of her paramour (who even though he is attracted to her is using her for her abilities).