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  • Writer's pictureT. A. Hernandez

Indiecember Recommendations: My 5 Favorite Protagonists

It's December, which means it's officially time for Indiecember! If you're not already familiar with Indiecember, go and check out Megan Tennant's website to find out more, then come back here, because I'm about to give you some great recommendations to help you fill those squares so you can win.

Throughout the rest of the month, I'm going to be shouting out some indie books I've read and loved by making lists of some of my favorite things in those books. Some books may be featured more than once if I choose them for multiple lists, but I won't put the same book twice on a single list. Today, I want to draw your attention to some of my favorite protagonists in indie books.

Artwork by EJ Fisch

Ziva Payvan of the Ziva Payvan series by EJ Fisch

This elite assassin is tough as nails and falls very squarely in the morally gray realm - if not a little closer to the dark side of things. But man, is she well developed. As part of a special police force in Fisch's fictional world of Haphez, Ziva is often called on to perform tasks others can't or won't, and she does so with perfect efficiency. Her significant trauma history and the measures she takes to protect herself are crucial parts of her character and are deftly woven into the story. I love every second I get to read about her, even if I don't always love her and her choices.

Nika Tescarav of the Asterion Noir trilogy by GS Jennsen When we first meet Nika in Exin Ex Machina, she's a woman without a past who has become a clever and resourceful rebel leader in a world that is cyberpunk meets space opera. I can't exactly pinpoint what it was that drew me to Nika initially, but I do know that I fell in love with her almost immediately and delighted in accompanying her on her many adventures over the next three books. She becomes increasingly complex and layered as the series goes on and she uncovers more and more about her past, and it's a journey that is powerful, exciting, gut-wrenching, and beautiful all at once.

Artwork by Benjamin P. Roque

I had no idea I needed a YA fantasy retelling of Peter Pan centered around Wendy Darling, but this immediately became one of my favorite series ever, and that is in large part because Wendy is such a great character. She's an underdog in the fact that she is a woman in a man's world and grew up an orphan, which means she has to fight for her success harder than most and often does so by outsmarting and out-talking those who stand in her way. It's so fun to watch and I can't wait to read more about Wendy in the third book of this series.

Carthage's mind is truly brilliant, and it's so fun to see what inventions and spectacles he comes up with for the high-stakes performance competition in this book. He has a complicated history and motivations that kept me fully engaged with him as the story progressed. The story's other protagonist, Arbrook Huxley, should also get a mention here as it is the interactions between him and Carthage that really provide the heart and soul of this book. Huxley is equally well-developed - Carthage just happened to resonate with me more.

Artwork by TA Hernandez

This was one of my first reads for Indiecember this year, and I loved the protagonist so much I ended up trying my hand at drawing her. 736 has a great narrative voice, and I really enjoyed seeing her gritty dystopian world through her eyes. She's brave and smart and a little bit reckless, which just means she gets herself into some pretty high-stakes situations that make for great sources of conflict. While her motivations tend to be a little selfish, she's willing to sacrifice for the people she cares about and doesn't back down from a challenge. If you're looking for an immersive, character-driven experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat, pick up Aletheia and spend some time with 736.

Have you read any of these books? Who are some of your favorite characters in indie books? Drop a comment to let me know! Thanks!

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