Cover Image: The Science of Strong Women

The Science of Strong Women

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Member Reviews

Interesting read about a number of "strong" women including:
 June Osborne
Star Carter
Katniss Everdeen
Elizabeth Bennet
Jo March
Buffy Summers

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC!
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So, so good! As a science teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to make my curriculum more engaging, and this book will definitely help me do that!
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Thank you so much to Skyhorse Publishing, Rhiannon Lee, and Netgalley for giving me access to this book in exchange for an honest review. 
the book was pretty much what I expected, although there's not really a "science" but rather a showdown of famous characters that the author deems feminists (I'd have to know them all to access if they are but I'll take her word on it).
I think it's a wonderful book for someone that wants to start dipping their toes in feminist literature but I do have reservations about some apparent bias that appears in this book. Especially while talking about J.K. Rollins, you can see the author "waters down" her opinions of less-than-good things about the women talked about in this book. I'd rather have seen her talk about apparent feminist characters written by people that are not feminists and how that dichotomy exists, rather than her underlining it on men but not pointing it out on women or not pointing out the controversies on women authors as she did with men.
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I was really intrigued to read this book and was looking forward to something that was incredibly researched, witty, and gave a unique frame of reference.  This was a regurgitation of the author's opinion and bias on these characters.  It is obvious there was research done, but this is not what was presented.  I did not see any reference to science, personality, or character really about any of the subjects.  I did, however like that the book was broken into type of character.  Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.
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What is the book about: This book is a compilation of strong female characters that includes quotes, lessons learned from each character, plot, feminist icon, facts and other bonus sections for each. I thought this book included a ride range and diverse inclusion of different characters that I did not initially think of when picking this book up.

Why I picked up the book: I mean who wouldn't pick up a book with these women on the front of it!

Who I would recommend to read this book: I think anyone who is into fictional characters or tv/movie buff! I found the facts and behind the scenes perspective for each character to be fascinating! I just wish there would have been more perspective included around these strong leads or some sort of tie in with the name including science in it.

Thank you Netgalley and Skyhorse Published for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:  3/5*

"Here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, and may we learn from them with The Science of Strong Women."
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*Thank you NetGalley for this ARC, in exchange for an honest review*

“We need to help boys see that it’s okay for a girl to be stronger and more powerful than them, and that it doesn’t make them weak in comparison.”


This was a pretty decent book, but to call it “Science of..” doesn’t really cover what’s in the book, because I would think that there would be in depth analyses of the characters and women, and that takes way more than the 3 pages every person got. It could have been a lot more detailed and longer.
However I did learn new facts and thought it was a pretty interesting read, it was just not what I expected from the title, and I would have loved if it was longer and lived up to the name.
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This was a book that had potential but did not deliver. In fact, it left me quite disappointed.

First and foremost, the title is false. There is no science at all in this book, it's merely a listing of fictional "strong women" that the author admires. I wasn't a fan of the style of writing, as it has an incredibly casual tone that brings to mind a blog post rather than a collection of interesting essays. And while there is an introduction that gives some history around feminism in different societies and in fiction, it's very brief and lacking. Some detailed research would have been a welcome addition and perhaps might have given it more of the "science" feel the author was striving for.

My biggest issue with the book is that it praises some women as "strong" but goes out of its way to point out how other women are "weak" or "going along with societal norms", without really giving any sort of thoughtful discussion over why some women were in the "weak" position, or the lack of opportunities they had. Society is to blame, not "weak" women who could not stand up and make changes (for whatever reason, lack of privilege, racism, etc.). 

Here's one passage to help illustrate what I am talking about:

"Buffy epitomized female empowerment during a time when pop stars were asking men 'to hit me baby one more time.'

Buffy is an amazing and empowering female protagonist, that's true! But why the snide comment about an unnamed Britney Spears (who at this time, was a literal child being manipulated by her parents and management in order to make as much money as possible)? And given what has come to light in recent years about the unethical conservatorship Spears was forced into, the line seems especially mean-spirited.

We can admire strong women without turning up our noses at women we deem "less than". Otherwise, are we really any better than the patriarchal society??
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I think this booked lacked some diversity. It was pretty fun and I think it would be a nice gift to give to any young adult or adult that loves pop-culture and movies. The Science of Strong Woman was a decent read and had some cute stories.
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Thanks NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for a copy of the eARC in exchange for an honest review!  

The Science of Strong Women is an analysis of figures present in literature and filmography from different eras.
It’s a very accurate collection of information also regarding the authors of these characters and curiosities related to the works. I found the research very interesting!
It is very clear that these female characters have been analyzed because the author likes them, it also refers to modern women who appear on Netflix and I liked that! 

One sort of problem I encountered is that there is practically none of science! For me, however, it was not disappointing but for those expecting such a book, perhaps it could be. So I warned you!! 

In conclusion I found the whole book very enjoyable, I was afraid it was boring but instead it surprised me! It made me want to deepen some characters by reading their incredible stories!
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The Science of Strong Women - Review 

Gracias a Netgalley y Skyhorse Publishing for the digital copy of the book

This is a great concept, I like the idea of selecting feminist characters from mixed media and analising them. The impact they had in their audience (wether of the time or nowadays). There is a clear lack of female representation in media, which is something this book talks about.

However, there are a few points that made me reticent to giving it a 4-5 star review:

There is no science, apart from the term in the title. Yes, the author cites some studies but overall, the only thing we have is their opinion on the characters they chose. I like that, but it is not science. This book is a compilation of personal eassays from the author. 

When talking about facts of author, for JK Rowling there is absolutely no mention to the damage she has done to several minorities. I understand the author is not the focus of that section, but the character of Hermione. However, I think it is just as importat to mention harmful behaviours from authors even if you do not expand on it.

I've read some other reviews of this book and I have to agree that there is a lack of poc and LGBTQ+ characters. I noticed this with Buffy, when there is absolutely no mention to one of the very few examples of a lesbian relationship worth viewing on a Tv Show. Again, no necessarily harmful, but since they talk about representation on media...

There is another point that I want to mention: The bechdel test. Contrary to popular belief, this test examines the relationship between female characters, not their representation. I think this is important to mention when talking about feminism, but just as a comment in genneral. 

Overall, is an easy read that flows quickly. Not my favourite tho.

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A strong woman is not just a badass lady who solves her problems with a high kick and a sassy comeback, all the while looking fabulous in a cape (although the cape is a plus!). A strong woman is a pioneer for bravery, intelligence, determination, and social justice for all.

I loved this book. It reads fast and tells a lot of interesting things. The fictional characters described here are a marvel and discovering what the authors were thinking while creating them as well as curious facts about their lives is a great pleasure. 
This book has introduced me to new books, movies and series that I didn't know about and will definitely read and watch, as well as giving me a point of view on certain fictional women that I had a bit of a grudge against, like Katniss.
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This was such a great read. I was familiar with most of the fictional characters mentioned in this book, but it was still interesting to look at these characters through the lens of feminism. I also loved ready the fun facts at the end of each character’s section. I would highly recommend giving this book a read. It was fast and entertaining.
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This was so intriguing, especially how the book also focused on the history of feminism as well as fictional feminists. 

Whilst k liked the idea, I would have liked to see a wider range of characters included, such as more disabled feminists, more feminists of colour, more lgbtq* feminists.
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Here we have a fine and interesting book with facts and stories about famous female characters we like. The book is in 11 parts with different names like Girls Who Run The World, Teenage Drama Queens and Wonderful Warrior Women.

In this amazing book we can read about Pippi Longstocking, Matilda Wormwood (Matilda by Roald Dahl), Buffy Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Hermione Granger, June "Offred" Osborne (The Handmaid's Tale), Katniss Everdeen, Elizabeth Bennet, Phoebe Buffay, Jo March and Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess).

Only name I felt was missing by all amazing characters was Beatrice Prior from Divergent other than that this was a great book. 
I really hope this one get translated to many languages and especially to Swedish so that readers that have a hard time reading in English can read it. 

The story about every character has been more or less intresting and I think anyone could enjoy this book.
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The Science of Strong Women is a great book to read. I love how detailed it tells of the different characters of women we know and love today. If you haven't read this book please give it a read. I highly recommend.
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A great introduction to feminist pop culture, although I feel like it’s more of an “author’s opinion” on different female characters.

I have to say that I enjoyed reading this book, it was fun and witty. I appreciated the diversity of this book and the fact that I discovered new female characters! I think it’s very important to finish a book with some new information, especially a book built like this and with this purpose in mind.

I liked the drawings, I liked the “Lesson Learned” and famous quotes of the character, and also the “facts” part in which I learned new things about characters that I liked ( although, it could have been named something different).

I did find the title a bit misleading, although, in the end, I saw there are a few other books with the name “The Science of…” and different topics. I think the book could have been built a bit differently to incorporate the title.

To sum it up, I would recommend this book to children or just to teenagers in general, I feel like it would be productive for them to read this, even though everyone can read it. 

This ARC was kindly gifted to me by Skyhorse Publishing through NetGalley.
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In a Nutshell: Great intent. Decent research. Half-baked execution. Nothing “science” in the content.

Let’s begin with the structure. The book begins with an introductory note on the history of feminism and then goes into iconic “feminist” characters from fiction – books as well as movies/TV shows. Thus spotlighted are fifty characters from a variety of genres, time periods, and backgrounds. The main content is divided into eleven sections depending on the role the character is most known for. Thus we have “Teenage Drama Queens”, “Fierce Females of Fantasy”, “Wonderful Warrior Women”, and so on. Each section contains a character sketch of a few characters, with a mostly fixed pattern for each sketch.
1. A grayscale illustration of the character – The illustrations were mostly good. Many of them were based on the actresses who played the parts in the movies (Katniss Everdeen, Matilda Wormwood, Sabrina Spellman) but in a few cases, the portraits don’t resemble the actress. (Hermione Granger, Jo March) I don’t like such inconsistency. Hermione’s depiction seems to have been based on the idea of her being Black as written in “The Cursed Child’, but that book isn’t even part of the official Harry Potter canon, and c’mon – you think Hermione, you think Emma Watson! It was an iconic performance. Why this decision then? 
(If you are curious to see how Hermione was sketched, just enlarge the title – the character inside the S of “strong” is Hermione.)
2. One of the character’s iconic quotes – pretty interesting for most characters.
3. “Lesson Learned” – A one-liner author’s opinion on one lesson we can learn from this character. This was an important key to understanding the rest of the content, because some of the selected characters were quite surprising. But the lesson the author chose to focus on helps us understand why they are present in the book. 
4. “Plot” - A plot summation of the fictional work they are part of.
5. “Feminist Icon” – This section details out the reasons the character made an impact on the author. When a book has been adapted into a movie, the information takes inputs from both sources, which results in some inconsistences. The heading didn’t suit the content of this section, which comprised almost entirely of the author’s rationale as to why the character was a “feminist icon”. However, there is a fair amount of judgement clearly visible. (Details below.) I guess one person’s “feminist icon” is another person’s “clichéd character”. 
6. “About the Author” – Contained some intriguing (and sometimes shocking) facts about the author who brought that character to life. Again, the content isn’t unbiased. (Details below.)
7. “Facts” - (First off - Why call this “facts”? Was the rest of the content just fiction? Why not “Trivia”?)  This contains some titbits of information related to the movie/book, the character, or the actress playing the character. 

As you can see, the structure is impactful and definitely contains some thought-provoking content. But I hope you noticed one item glaring in its absence: “Science”. Unlike what the title suggests, there’s nothing about the science of the character, and the analysis is entirely personal than scientific. (This stays valid even if I include the social sciences.)  The title is thus somewhat of a misnomer. I admit, I picked this book up more for the science than for the supposedly feminist content. So this was disappointing. 

Where the book worked for me:
👉 It doesn’t just cover the obvious female superheroes but regular everyday female characters. There are plenty of expected characters such as Jo March and Nancy Drew but also some unexpected ones such as Wilhelmina Harker from ‘Dracula’, Eowyn from the LOTR series, Tracy Turnblad from ‘Hairspray’, and Wednesday Addams from ‘The Addams Family’. There are a couple of trans women characters also included. (I would have loved to see more, but fiction has yet to have really strong representation of trans people that would have fit the ’feminist” bill.)
👉 I loved how the author included female characters from the classics too, and added this note in the introduction: “The time in history and the places in which these characters exist are key to understanding what makes them strong women. With our views on feminism and gender constantly evolving, what made sense two hundred years ago can seem wildly outdated by today’s standards.”  Exactly! If only the reviewers of today remembered this while reviewing classics – always judge a book based on when it was written, not by when you read it!
👉 The point that is raised about these characters not being perfect but having ONE quality that is admirable is spot on. As the author herself says, “there is no perfect fictional feminist. These are all flawed characters who have one or a few stand-out traits.” If we read the content keeping this point in mind, the book becomes a lot more tolerable.

Where the book could have worked better for me:
👉 The characters are supposedly from a variety of backgrounds. But the fact is, a majority of them are white! Most are straight. There’s no LGBTQ+ rep except for two trans characters. 
👉 The authors are predominantly white, and the fictional works are almost all from the USA or the UK. It indirectly depicts how limited the reading/viewing of this author is. Few might have heard of Sister Sara from Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s “Sultana's Dream” or Rajani from the 1980s TV show of the same name, but how can Lisbeth Salander from Steig Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or Olanna (or even Kainene) from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun” not make the cut? The author mentions in the foreword “[…] shows how obsessive my consumption of strong fictional women is!” Well, all I can say is, you do need to diversify this consumption, dear author! The world is much larger than what you think.
👉 The author claims that reading lists in schools are filled with books written “by white men, for white men.” Not exactly accurate, is this? There are so many classics written by women (The Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen,…) that are a part of essential reading lists. Also, when the very next page after this sentence has the character sketch of Hester Prynne from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “A Scarlet Letter”, isn’t the point invalidated? 
👉 Unlike what the title suggests, being a strong woman is not the same as being a feminist. The characters included in the book are strong in various ways, I agree. But many of these were simply outstanding female characters and had nothing to do with being a feminist. So the “Feminist Icon” section does a lot of twisting around to fit them into the feminist mould. Thus:
↳ It includes Scout Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird” as a feminist. If you ask me, Atticus Finch was more of a feminist than Scout was. 
↳ Katniss Everdeen is included for her “great ability to communicate and foster relationships” – SO not true!! She’s a feminist for very different reasons. And please, she didn’t “pine over a boy”? Her actions in the final book of the trilogy are entirely dominated by her feelings for Peeta.
↳ Anne of Green Gables was an iconic character only in the first two books. Then she settles into domesticity, leaving her dreams of becoming a teacher behind. This is conveniently ignored.
↳ Okoye from “Black Panther” is chosen over STEM icon Shuri, just because the former fits into the “badass tomboy” mould that the author so clearly admires.
👉 The info related to authors isn’t comprehensive and again, highly prejudiced. For instance, Enid Blyton’s racist tendencies are included but J.K. Rowling’s controversial transphobic remarks are skipped. Roald Dahl’s bigotry is referred to in a single sentence but Lewis Carroll’s alleged paedophilia is completely ignored. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s highly racist portrayal of colonial India is glossed over. (As is the fact that she hadn’t ever visited India but wrote the initial section of ‘The Secret Garden’ based on what she presumed about “the colonies”.) 
👉 The kind of feminism advocated is the one that looks down on dresses and the colour pink and homemakers. For instance, George from the Famous Five series is said to have inspired the author to join the Boy Scouts as they got to “sleep outdoors, play with axes, and build campfires, while the Girl Scouts would have sleepovers in the village hall, and make crafts.” What’s the problem with that? One can be a girly girl and still be a feminist! Ironically, Elle Woods from the Legally Blonde series gets a proud mention in the list, with the lesson derived from her being “Having an interest in frivolous things doesn’t make you stupid.” Someone had selective amnesia while writing about George and Scout Finch!
(Speaking of Elle Woods, I would have loved to see the author’s opinion on “feminist icon” Elle’s ‘Bend and Snap’ routine.)
👉 Pride and Prejudice is NOT a ‘romantic novel’! That’s such a literal reading of the text!
👉 I would have loved to have some insight on the author’s background. There’s nothing about her in the book. Some bookstore sites mention her bio as, ‘Rhiannon Lee holds a PhD in chemistry and is a strong campaigner for the recognition of women in science.’ If this is true, then the author lost an opportunity to make this book more fact-oriented and science-oriented, and less like a Wikipedia of her favourite characters. 

All in all, this is a book that promises a lot and tries to do a lot. But forcing a generic character into a feminist mould has led to many goofs. Plus, the blatant bias for and against a few authors, and the lack of global representation makes the experience less memorable. Twisting the author’s own words, this is clearly written by a white woman for Western straight (mostly white) women, and even they won’t necessarily like it.

2 stars.

My thanks to Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for the DRC of “The Science of Strong Women: The True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fictional Feminists”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.
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With a title like "The Science of Strong Women," it was reasonable to believe it'd be a well-researched and balanced analysis of women in life and literature, but it turned out to be a collection of a social media influencer's opinions and reading tastes that seemed tailored to appeal to her following, and provided little insight into women's issues and also lacked serious discussion of feminist topics. 

I would've preferred it be marketed as simple personal opinions that have nothing to do with "science," as that creates expectations that won't be met by someone unqualified in the history and sociology of depictions of women in literature in relation to feminist topics, and so it was sadly a disappointing book.
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I enjoyed reading about many of the most influential fictional women of our time. I thought the set up of each “chapter” was well done and easy to follow. The “lesson learned” was probably my favorite part. I also appreciated the concise background for each because I was not familiar with all of the characters, but it wasn’t over explained to the point it was hard to get through. 

Throughout reading this book I added several books, shows, and movies to my to be read/watched lists.

I do find the title misleading as there isn’t much “science” involved so much as a compilation of important fictional female characters. So if you’re picking this book up based on the “science” in the title, maybe think again. 

Overall I really enjoyed this read! 

***Also appears on Goodreads
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The science of strong women by Rhiannon Lee was really fun and I loved hearing about the impact these fictional women have on us as children growing up. It definitely made me think about how im going to choose what my child watches when they’re young and shaping their little minds. I also loved how the author described how feminism for each character looks completely different depending on where they’re located and the time period. Feminism has many different forms and it’s about being a pioneer for womens equality. Doing the best you can with what you know now. That being said, it was kinda boring to me. I was really invested at the beginning but I slowly just was getting over it.
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