Don’t be deceived by the title of the first book, Poison Princess: Evie is no damsel in distress, though she does start out seeming that way. She quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with in this book, which is like Hunger Games meets zombie apocalypse.
Celaena Sardothien is a badass assassin with a host of secrets up her sleeve. This book takes so many twists and turns that you won’t be able to put it down. But none of those twists make Celaena any less the ultimate fighting powerhouse that she is, thank goodness.
Teens who love Katniss (The Hunger Games series) and Tris (the Divergent series) will easily fall for brave, fair Alina. This book will have you not only rooting for the hero but questioning your own actions and their impact on the environment.
Not only is Maya well-written as a female character, she’s also just what books need when it comes to diversity. As a Native American high schooler, Maya faces all the usual coming-of-age struggles while also discovering secrets of her adoption and the truth about the town where she lives.
Sahar is an Iranian teen hiding a scary truth: She’s a lesbian and in love with her best friend. In her society, homosexuality is condemned, but Sahar embarks on a transition to acceptance that will leave your heart pumping in a love story that is bigger than teen romance. It’s a love story for self-identity.
Ivy was the heroine of all heroines in the 1970s, in a world before Harry Potter, Girl, Interrupted and The Hunger Games. Ivy’s journey is as beautiful as it is tragic, set in the postwar world where women are not considered equal.
Amari is just 15 years old when she is kidnapped from her West African home to become a slave. Forced to find her courage in a story that seems otherwise hopeless, Amari faces injustices that make her story all the more raw for their reality.
Though Melinda may seem helpless in the wake of her sexual assault, she learns how to use her voice in this novel in a powerful way. With sexual assault so rampant in our world, Melinda serves to give a voice to other women who are in the same circumstance and seeking understanding.
There is nothing weak about Lada, though her strength does hide her vulnerabilities. Throughout this book, as she grows, Lada learns to deal with them in a way that makes her strong, genuine and a heroine worth rooting for despite her flaws.
Kestrel is a unique heroine because she doesn’t excel in battle or in action. She excels in politics. She’s one of the most clever heroines in YA literature, and her strategy and intelligence throughout the series shines.
Aya makes so many badass heroine lists because she really is just hardcore like that. As a girl on the run from men who would make her a slave, Aya’s determination to survive is sure to inspire your teen to get up off the couch.
I think what makes a good female heroine is not just her strengths but also how she deals with her weaknesses. It is in those moments that the true heroes arise, as they say, and Verity is definitely a hero. This novel, set in World War II, will give Hemingway a run for his money when it comes to character development.
Sam and Andy are the Thelma and Louise of their generation. In 1849, Sam kills a man in self-defense and goes on the run with Andy, an escaped slave, at her side, disguised as men and fighting to survive. This story is mostly one of friendship.
The best of dystopian lit before dystopian lit was even a thing, Uglies tells the story of Tally, who gets to become a Pretty at age 16. But being a Pretty might not be all it’s cracked up to be, especially in this world.