OK so I've finally read The Hunger Games (previously reviewed by Jen). I avoided it because I wasn't in the mood for a dystopian novel, and it sounded like reality TV (which I hate) gone amuck. They didn't tell me I would fall in love with Katniss! She's a tough girl who has kept her family alive since the age of twelve, is coming of age with a pure lack of self-involvement, and is unaware of her effect on others. At its core this book is about loyalty, courage, honor, love. That book I would have read long ago.
It makes me think of other tough girls who I have loved.
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
You could pick up any series by Tamora Pierce and you'd find a tough girl that worms her way into your heart. The first one I picked up was Terrier, about Beka Cooper. She's a rookie cop...in Pierce's parlance, a dog, or I should say a puppy, in the Provost's Guard. She chose the tough beat where she grew up, but despite her beginnings, she has some advantages, including consultations with ghosts, dust spinners that spit out hidden conversations, and a very special cat. I'm currently listening to the third, Mastiff, and still loving her no-nonsense voice, strong with loyalty, duty, and astute investigation.
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Plain Kate has a few things working against her. She lost her father and must support herself with her woodcarving skills. She lives in a world where magic is sinister, and the townspeople accuse her of being the witch who caused their bad luck. Then she makes a deal with a real witch, and she escapes the town accompanied by, wait for this, her very special cat. (Come to think of it, there's a special cat in Hunger Games too...hmmmm.)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Katsa may be the most feared assassin in all the seven kingdoms. Born with the Grace to kill, she is the property of the king. She doesn't like being the thug that her Grace makes her, and she's behind the secret Council that would change the way things work. Then she meets Po, from another kingdom where people with these special abilities are free to make their own choices.
Oh, and all of these books...quite well written...with complexity, flowing prose, and no extra or missing plot points.