Happy International Women's day! Unlike the National Cereal Day before (and no, we are not kidding), this one:

  • actually stands for something
  • has wider implications
  • is celebrated in various parts of the world.

(But then again, we do love our cereal, too. One ought never to underestimate the power of good breakfast food.)

So this Tuesday, in honor of March 8th and all it should stand for, we are picking the ten characters from various known YA series (and adjacent) who we feel ought to have been given more credit. Or at least a cookie for their troubles. (Though maybe they'd prefer cereal?)

Proceed carefully and beware the spoilers ahead. We tried to keep them light... and failed.

1. Ginny Weasley (Harry Potter)

Picked by: Natalie

I feel like Ginny needs more love. She grew up with six brothers (one is enough!) and had to endure pranks and teasing, so her need to protect herself against these troublesome boys helped build an impressive amount of spells at a young age. Young, small - yet feisty! Looks can be deceiving.
Ginny's bravery, independence and smarts were incredibly important in the books, and even though she finally went out with the boy she was in love with, when he broke up with her, she didn't even cry. She took it like a strong woman and knew he had to do it. Her tough yet fun personality makes her one of my favourite characters, and I feel like Ginny in the movies was watered down immensely. Due to that, she gets less admiration. 'She's weak, boring, dull and doesn't deserve Harry.' Did we read the same books? You're talking about the movies. Besides, she's a Weasley - of course she's awesome and badass! Team Ginny!

Art by Tara
2. Manon Blackbeak (Throne of Glass)

Picked by: Lexie

The beauty of Manon is that I don't even have to cry 'FIGHT ME ON THIS'. She'd do it for me. While many fans invested their energies into intensely hating the latter books in the Throne of Glass series for sinking their various ships, Manon slipped under the radar altogether. She was faulted for having an arc not immediately tied with Celaena's arc, and for being in a place so far from any of the principal characters while still getting a POV. But Manon, as the leader of the Ironteeth clan, has shown herself to be a spectacular character - one with as many faults as strengths. One who alternates between villain and hero. One who makes all the toughest choices. And my anti-hero loving heart will forever appreciate her bloodthirsty nature as well as her many sacrifices. FIGHT ME HER!

3. Joanna Mason (The Hunger Games)

Picked by: Natalie

If you ask me who one of the most badass females in YA is, I'd have to say Johanna Mason. I mean, an axe-wielding twenty-one year old who wants revenge and survives some of the worst kinds of torture and situations you can imagine.  She survived the Hunger Games twice, was tortured by Snow and remained her true self, continuing to fight for what she believed in. Johanna is amazing. I also love her colourful personality - that she's so sassy and calls it like she sees it. So why isn't there a lot of love for her? Maybe she is a tough pill to swallow, but she is damn well interesting to read. And a shout out to Jena Malone who OWNED the part in the movies. 

4. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)

Picked by: Lexie

Luna Lovegood is about four hundred kinds of wonderful. And Luna Lovegood should have had about four hundred pages' worth of shenanigans more. Because Luna is The Spontaneous Smart to Hermione's Logical Smart. She's unapologetically weird, imaginative, creative, and as outside-the-box as a character could possibly get. And - perhaps most wonderfully of all - Luna cares nothing about fitting in, or sticking out. To Luna, a person is just a person - and every person is a universe unto themselves. (Also, the Crumple-Horned Snorkack is real, and no one can prove otherwise!)

5. Meadow (The Murder Complex)
Fanart by chrysalisgrey

Picked by: Natalie

If you've not read this book, I do recommend you give it a try. It does involve a lot of death, but it's not exactly horror. If I can read it, the biggest wimp when it comes to scary things - then just about anyone can. The protagonist, Meadow, comes close to Katniss Everdeen in her ways. From a young age, her father trains her to fight - even to the point of physical pain - but his methods work. Meadow is a super badass. She can defend herself, she looks after her siblings and works to provide for her family. It may seem like she is cold or hard-hearted - that she does things without remorse - but Meadow does what she has to do. It's a town with a huge death rate and survival isn't easy in a place like this. 
Not all girls are girly. Some are strong and don't give up on things that they need to do or believe in. Meadow is a toughie, so if you like hard, female protagonists - try this one. She tends to get forgotten when YA characters are discussed. 

Pick by: Lexie

In the prologue of this YA Contemporary, Frankie Landau-Banks confesses to a series of pranks which she helped orchestrate. She's guilty of disrupting the public order. She's guilty of causing chaos on campus. She's guilty of leading a group of students into various revolts around her school. But mostly, she's guilty of behaving like a boy. Frankie Landau-Banks disrupts not so much the order as she does the way of things. She was expected to be well-spoken and polite. She was expected to study hard, apply herself, eventually find a guy from a good family, get a nickname like Bunny and behave as girls behave. Except Frankie doesn't. And for this alone (not to mention the hilarious pranks), Frankie deserves a far more prominent place in the YA Contemporary world than the passing mention she gets.

7. Harriet Manners (Geek Girl)

Picked by: Natalie
  When I read the Geek Girl books, I really admired Harriet. But when someone says 'awesome YA female character', nobody ever says Ms. Manners. I adore how honest she is about having no knowledge abut fashion, and her nerdiness is absolutely brilliant. Harriet embraces her inner nerd, she is intelligent and spouts out facts to people about the strangest things, not even caring that she is embarrassing herself. I enjoy when a character doesn't take themselves too seriously. Her quirky, kind nature is lovable, and she is a friend and character who we should all want to know or be like. Her heart in the right place, thirst for knowledge and wish to make friends is lovely to read, I don't think enough people appreciate her. There's too many protags that are too 'arty' and I find it refreshing when there's one as interesting as Harriet.

Art by Brooke
8. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles)

Pick by: Lexie

Now, don't get me wrong. The Lunar Chronicles is a series that took the YA community by storm in recent years. And it's a series where each of the principal characters got a book of their own where their story was told. It's very hard to underappreciate a character in these circumstances. And not for a moment do I think Marissa Meyer has done that. But I do feel like some of the fans did. Cinder was the original - the leader of the revolution. Cress and Thorne stole the whole show with their hilarious antics. Winter brought the stunning finale about. And Scarlet... slipped through the cracks some. But consider this a PSA where I remind the world that Scarlet tamed a mutated wolf-soldier, suffered torture, solitude and imprisonment, tamed a literal wolf, then walked into a lair of virtually rabid mutated soldiers and asserted herself as their alpha. Scarlet also cares nothing about appearances, a great deal about family, and she is the unprecedented mistress of sass. Scarlet is my faaaaaaavorite.

9. Jenny (Thoughtless)

Picked by: Natalie

So, Thoughtless isn't the most popular series out there. But Jenny deserves her place on it.
Do you ever meet people who are so incredibly kind that you're thinking 'are they really this kind or are they taking the piss?' Well, that's Jenny, but she's not taking the piss. She is 100% a kind-hearted soul who wants to be everyone's friend. I'm always surprised when people hardly bring her up, considering she's the most genuine and friendliest character. Hell, more people should be like her! Jenny is incredibly kind, forgiving, thoughtful and I think the kind of friend everyone needs. Her positivity is inspiring and the amount of patience she has with Kiera is very admirable because damn is Kiera frustrating! Jenny is never judgmental, she does what she thinks is right, and is always there for anyone. So that's why I'm shocked she's so underrated - people tend to talk more about the idiots, never about the nice characters.

Art by Isabella
10. Puck Connolly (The Scorpio Races)

Pick by: Lexie

Watch Lexie work Maggie Stiefvater into a post yet again and be stunned. (You aren't stunned? You must be not-at-all-new here.) Maggie Stiefvater herself has often said that her Shiver trilogy sold the most, but that her Raven Cycle series is the one with the fandom. The standalone paranormal (magical realism?) series that came between is very often forgotten. Which is unfair for a number of reasons, not least because its female protagonist, Puck Connolly, is a champion of girls everywhere. Every young adult should meet Puck Connolly. Every young adult should appreciate Puck Connolly. Every young adult should wind Puck Connolly's ponytail around their hands and tuck it into her jacket. (Read it and understand my crazy references. There might yet be a cookie November cake in it for you.) Puck bucks the rules (pun intended) by being the first female to sign up for an often-deadly horse race. Puck bucks the rules again by choosing an ordinary mare over a Capaill Uisce. And Puck bucks the rules at every turn when she refuses the role that the society is attempting to force on her. Puck is all kinds of amazing. (So much so that Maggie Stiefvater... named a fainting goat after her?) (Hey, quirkiness is part of the package.)

Who are your favorite underrated characters (of any gender)? We find that underrated-ness is a problem all genders and all ages suffer from - some even in book form. Let us know in the comments below, or find us on social media everywhere, where we slowly and surely take over the world.