Books by Tropes: The Unlikely Hero(ine)


I created my first “Books by Tropes” post before I dropped off the planet for awhile, and I’ve decided I want to keep going with it. For my first post (Enemies to Lovers), click here.

If there are any tropes you’d like to see, leave me a comment below and I’ll see what I can come up with :).

Anyway, I love a good underdog. Who doesn’t? I also prefer female MCs. Nothing against the guys or anything, I just relate more to a female narrator/main character because…well, I’m a woman.

So many books feature strong female characters, and I love it. But I especially love a girl who is either underestimated or grows into someone stronger because it’s just more interesting.

These are my favorite books that feature an unlikely heroine. They’re all fantasy, and they all have romance, so if that’s not your thing then…try it out? Just kidding. Kind of.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Amazon, GoodReads

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart (Goodreads).

Why it made the list: Alina is an orphan, she’s poor, and she’s weak. If she doesn’t qualify as an unlikely heroine, I don’t know who does. Besides, she really comes into herself over the course of the trilogy. It’s a slow process, but she grows so much, and I have to respect her for that.



Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson: GoodReads, Amazon

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? (Amazon).

Why it made the list: Okay, I’ve only read the first book in this series, but I LOVED IT.  Vin is such an incredible character. She starts out with a life that no one would think would lead to anything, but obviously, there’s more to her than meets the eye. She is strong and clever, and an all-around great character.



Uprooted by Naomi Novik: GoodReads, Amazon

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose (GoodReads).

Why it made the list: THIS BOOK! I loved it. Agnieszka isn’t someone you would think of as a hero. Things just don’t seem to go right for her. She’s clumsy, unexceptional, plain. But her character grows so much. And the writing…did I mention I love this book?



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