Let’s be real: There are some crazy readers out there. And you can’t even be offended by this statement because I consider myself a crazy obsessive reader (i.e. you read nearly a book a day without care for the monetary or social cost of it). But let’s not call it “crazy” or “obsessive”; I rather like *zealous* or *passionate* (thank you Thesaurus.com). But anyway, I was that kid who would rather stay inside and read in my special reading chair than play outside with my neighbors. And again, let’s be real: There’s a reason why people become *zealous* readers. For me, and I imagine for a lot of people, reading is a chance to escape from reality, to let your imagination run wild and dream of bigger and better worlds. And what’s a better escape than YA Fantasy?
I have six tested and true authors who, as a kid, I could always count on for a good fantasy read- and still can many years later. These are the authors whose books withstood my purge five years ago when my library shrank from 500 books to 50 books: Tamora Pierce, Sherwood Smith, Sharon Shinn, J.K. Rowling, Shannon Hale, and L.A. Meyer.
In no particular order, these six are fantastic YA Fantasy authors who know a thing or two about strong female leads and interesting story lines. They know how to balance romance and adventure, but best of all, they are fantastic at breaking conventional gender stereotypes. All of the leading ladies written by these authors are strong and independent characters who grow admirably throughout their respective stories. These six authors create characters that young girls can safely and proudly emulate; there aren’t any Bella Swans in these books.
All of the authors teach some sort of lesson but I want to focus on one particular author: Tamora Pierce. Ms. Pierce is, in my opinion, the ultimate YA Fantasy author and horrendously underrated. She has two different worlds she writes within and my personal favorite is Tortall. In Tortallan chronological order you have Beka’s, Alanna’s, Daine’s, Kel’s, and Ali’s story, ranging between two and four books per series. You can find the books and their order here.
Each young woman has her own unique story, her own unique struggles that many young girls can certainly identify with today. Yes the stories are set in a completely made up world that has magic and monsters, but the gender stereotypes, the female body issues, and boy troubles are all very familiar. And best of all, for the most part at least, the books are clean, nothing you wouldn’t want an 11 year old to read. Looking back I think I can safely credit Mr. Pierce for at least a part of my independent attitude, the one that didn’t care when my friends would make fun of me for reading during break periods at school. To this day, at 23 years old, I’ll still come back to her books when I want some clean, fun, and inspiring fantasy.
Of course, Tamora Pierce is only one of the five authors I highly recommend, each with several books and series that I adore. Below is a list of all the books I love by these authors.
The Tortall Universe (In published order, not chronological)
- The Song of the Lioness (Alanna’s Story, 4 book series)
- The Immortals (Daine’s Story, 4 book series)
- The Protector of the Small (Kel’s Story, 4 book series)
- Tricksters (Trickster’s Choice & Tricksters Queen, Ali’s Story)
- Beka Cooper: A Tortall Legend (Beka’s Story, 3 book series)
- An Elemental Blessings Novel (4 book series)
- Twelve Houses Series (5 book series)
- Summers at Castle Auburn
No explanation needed, unless you’ve been living under a rock.