We’ve all been there: 2am, eye-balling the clock, feeling sick with the anticipation of getting through the day ahead, but we simply CAN’T STOP READING.
I’m talking about those fantasy fiction series that we simply can’t put down, despite knowing we need those good 8 hours of shut-eye. Although they're often classed in the Young-Adult fiction category, but every 20 (or even 30)-something we spoke to is just as addicted. Most of these have also now been made into highly successful (and equally addictive) movie adaptations.
Since the days of Lara Croft, we’ve had a thing for badass female heroines, and coincidentally, all of these franchises feature strong female leads. Here’s why we think they’re so compelling:
1. The Hunger Games Trilogy A dystopian society that consists of 12 districts, centred around the ‘Capitol’ Panem. The districts were formed by the Capitol after a civil war and every year they make young candidates plucked from each districts fight to the death while the nation watches. The Main Character Katniss Everdeen – A badass rebel by day, poacher by night. Thrust into the spotlight when she volunteers to save her baby sister Prim after being picked at the annual ‘reaping’. The trilogy follows her fight for justice against the other district candidates in the arena, as well as the power-hungry Capitol.
Why We Love Her Her ‘zero-fucks-given’ attitude and endlessly brave sacrifices made on behalf of her loved ones as well as new friends, makes her a hero in our eyes over and over. Vices Her sulky exterior means often people take an instant dislike to her, which is a problem when her survival in the arena is largely based on the public’s opinion and consequent generosity. Another vice is her tendency to act before thinking; a trait which often gets her into trouble with authority figures. The Compelling Relationship The simmering tension between Katniss and best friend Gabe, mixed with a new found affection for Peeta (her fellow District 12 candidate) has us willing for sparks to fly. Although pretty tame on the physical romance front, this slow-burner makes the ultimate decision ever harder to call. Her Weapon of Choice Katniss is a complete archery pro thanks to years of illegal forest poaching to feed her starving family; making her a deadly shot with a bow and arrow. A skill that serves her well, in and out of the arena.
2. The Divergent Trilogy Another Dystopian setting, where their world consists of five factions that they are born into, and then have the option of transfering to a different one upon their graduation at the choosing ceremony. Independent thinking is a dangerous quality to possess in a city ruled by personality factions and cracks soon start to appear in this seemingly streamlined environment. The Main Character Beatrice Prior (or Tris as she later calls herself) – born into her family’s selfless Abnegation faction, she flings herself into the brave Dauntless faction, to the horror of her family and fellow Dauntless members.
Why We Love Her Her suprising gutsiness, against her natural upbringing (and miniature sized demeanor), and constant bravery makes for compelling reading. Vices Her complete disregard for her own life, in her quest to do the right thing is sometimes infuriating, as we of course are rooting for her surivival! The Compelling Relationship A much more satisfying relationship than The Hunger Games; we are privy to the budding, lust-filled romance blossoming with the out-of-bounds Dauntless mentor Tobias and after some initial crossed wires, lust, love, respect and some seriously hot make-out sessions. Her Weapon of Choice Her strong mind, well-equipped to fight back against the brainwashing simulations, leads her into dangerous territory. After some sizzling one-on-one gun lessons with Four (also known as Tobias), she also becomes an excellent shot and a strong fighter – not one to mess with and not bad for a short, skinny Abnegation transfer.
3. Game Of Thrones Series Based on the highly successful first novel of the A Song Of Fire And Ice Series, Game of Thrones is a political potboiler crossed with the essence of medieval legend; nicknamed 'The Sopranos crossed with Middle Earth'. In amongst the three main houses of Westeros, The Wall and Targaryens, lies ambitious and power-hungry noble families, all vying for for the Iron Throne of Westeros.The books contain separate and sometimes interconnected storylines, told from varying perspectives and the HBO television series is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and interweaves several plot lines at once. The television series is said to folow the path laid out by the author, but without crossing every milestone outlined in the incredibly detailed books. The Main Characters Strong female lead characters play a large part in this epic tale, as the plots intertwine intrinsically as a result of the complex roles they play with the other characters. Here's our round-up of the most poignant lead female characters in the television series:
Queen Cersei (QC) Wife of the King, Queen of The Seven Kingdoms and mother to the three heirs to the Throne.
Arya Stark (AS) One of the original Point of View characters from the book series, Arya's character is pinnacle to the plotline throughout. She rejects the notion that she must become a lady and marry for influence and power, feeling she can forge her own destiny.
Daenerys Targaryen (DT) Also known as Khalesi. She's the Mother Of Dragons (born in a fire she survived!) and the possible rightful Queen to the throne. It was usurped from her family line decades ago and her quest is to now restore its natural successor.
Why We Love Them QC: She's a total bad-ass; she knows her shit, she gets shit done and her evil nature makes compelling reading/ viewing. She's also stunningly beautiful, which makes us kind of want to be her. AS: She’s a cool, independent tomboy, in a world of manipulative Queen Cersei's, the fearless cheeky nature of Arya is a refreshing change. DT: Daenerys starts off being very timid, but gains confidence as the series goes on to having presence and power. Arguably the character who has changed the most over the series, she's known for being capable of great tenderness and humanity at times. She's also unwavering in her quest for the throne (along with everyone else), which she believes is rightfully hers!
Vices QC: She’s a bit of a scheming bitch TBH, but then if everyone was vying for my throne, I probably would be too. She's probably the most conniving character and doesn't have a problem topping people who get in her way. Oh and she's also having a highly incestuous relationship with her twin brother. Gross. AS: She can be very headstrong and fiercely independent at times, she also needs to believe in herself more. DT: She starts to evolve into a formidable force to be reckoned with, which can sometimes take away from the pure nature of her character in the beginning. She also still sometimes doesn't seem to know what she's doing and makes poor decisions; nobody's perfect!
The Compelling Relationships QC: Stuck in a loveless marriage and conducting an incestuous relationship with her brother Jamie, which results in the secret parentage of her three children who are the heirs to the throne, makes for intensive viewing and shocking twists. AS: She's very close to her bastard half-brother Jon Snow (not incestuously this time, phew), as he's always treats her seriously, like an equal, compared to her other siblings. They also both look like Starks (whereas the other four look like Tullys) and they're both kind of outsiders due to Jon being born outside of marriage and Arya's tomboy persona. DT: Her ever-changing relationship with her bullying older brother Viserys is interesting to watch as her character evolves, as well as how falling in love with her arranged marriage husband (how convenient) leads to her accquistion of power, when she becomes Queen of the Dothraki.
Weapon of Choice QC: The Queen uses her deadliest weapon of all - her assets. Not only is she strikingly beautiful but manipulative in how she uses her beauty. AS: She wields a sword named Needle, a gift from her half-brother, Jon Snow, and was trained in the Braavosi style of swordfighting while living in King's Landing. Don't let the little girl exterior fool you, she could totally take your head off if you crossed her. DT: Wel, if you count having three dragons at your beck and call a weapon... (FYI we do).
4. The Uglies Series A new kid on the block, this book series has yet to be made into a movie franchise (but we have high hopes) and was originally meant to be a trilogy, before the author gave in to the fans’ demands. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the story focuses on yet another female lead character, fighting against the man. Or in this case – the entire city. Upon their sixteenth birthday, every teenager undergoes extreme plastic surgery, nicknamed ‘The Surge’, to turn them ‘pretty’, and be enveloped into the rest of society.
The Main Character Tally Youngblood - One of the most recent 'Uglies' about to become one of the 'Pretties' on her sixteenth birthday, as is the tradition in this perfect beauty obsessed society. Her mind however starts to fight back...Why We Love Her Her strength of character and her will to see what’s right and wrong, rising up against her oppressors, even when faced with the possibility of having to stay ‘ugly’ forever. She fights against the idea of perfection in a society where looks are EVERYTHING; despite having her brain constantly rewired! Vices She can often be quite selfish in her way of thinking, leading the reader to wonder if she truly cares about the people closest to her. However it's her imperfect nature that makes her such a relatable character. The Compelling Relationship David or Zane, or Zane or David. Both harbour a lust (love) for Tally, both have totally different qualities… We keep changing our minds on who she should choose and wish her on-off BFF Shay would stop getting in the way of her blossoming romances. Her Weapon of Choice In this series, Tally’s most valuable weapon is her mind, and it’s ability to fight back against the brain-washing implemented by her society.
5. The Maze Runner Trilogy Set in another post-apocalyptic dystopian world, the Maze Runner is largely about a group of boys who get trapped together in The Glade, with no memories, surrounded by The Maze - filled with deathly monsters called The Grieves. Then the first girl ever arrives at The Glade and everything changes...
The Main Character Theresa Agnes - Although it originally focuses on the group of boys and Thomas, the arrival of Theresa changes everything and sets in motion their plan to escape. Why We Love Her She's a tough girl, despite being the only female and spending the first chunk of her stay at The Glade in a coma, she manages to figure out the code for The Maze and plot an escape plan for everyone. Job done. Vices Her tough girl persona sometimes makes it difficult to connect or empathize with the character, her lack of vulnerability and her telepathic manipulations of love-struck Thomas often portray her as the bad guy. The Compelling Relationship Theresa and Thomas's relationship is a confusing one at best, but also highly unpredictable, leaving an air of excitable suspense surrounding the possible direction the relationship could take. His love for her also spurs on lots of the action. Weapon Of Choice Her telephatic ability to communicate with Thomas is her greatest weapon against the oppressors of The Glade and proves vital in Thomas retrieving his lost memories.
So, if you've been looking for some great books/ boxsets/ movie series to get stuck into over the Christmas holiday period, look no further. BRB, just need to go re-read/ watch all of the above right now... See you in the New year.
Images: Rex Features and giphy.com
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
The leading destination for fashion, beauty, shopping and finger-on-the-pulse views on the latest issues. Marie Claire's travel content helps you delight in discovering new destinations around the globe, offering a unique – and sometimes unchartered – travel experience. From new hotel openings to the destinations tipped to take over our travel calendars, this iconic name has it covered.
Chia water is all over TikTok claiming to boost gut health and satiety - but after trying for a week, it's not for me
The results were.... interesting
By Sofia Piza
People are using face tape to minimise wrinkles, but does it work? After asking a plastic surgeon, I tried it for myself
Turns out, TikTok might've duped us on this one
By Tori Crowther
This weekly Olaplex mask is my answer to frazzled winter hair - the before and after pictures have to be seen to be believed
And it just takes 10 minutes
By Tori Crowther