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7 Great Young Adult Novels with a Strong Female Lead

Sometimes reading young adult fiction can be a good escape from working, cooking, all the day-to-day tasks of being an adult. And sometimes you just want to read a book where a young heroine kicks ass. So, after you’ve read The Hunger Games trilogy, what do you read next? Here are our suggestions. They range from zombie books to historical novels about gargoyles to books about friendships during war time — but the one thing they have in common is a strong female lead!

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

“The textual equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino movie.”Publishers Weekly

Two of you exist. Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence.


How I Live Now by Meg RosoffHow I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.A riveting and astonishing story.



Blood Red Road by Moira YoungBlood Red Road by Moira Young

In a wild and lawless future, where life is cheap and survival is hard, eighteen-year-old Saba lives with her father, her twin brother Lugh, her young sister Emmi and her pet crow Nero.

Saba’s small world is brutally torn apart, when a group of armed riders arrives five day’s after the twin’s eighteenth birthday snatch Lugh away. Saba’s rage is so wild, that she manages to drive the men away, but not before they have captured Lugh and killed their father.

And here begins Saba’s epic quest to rescue Lugh, during which she is tested by trials she could not have imagined, and one that takes the reader on breathtaking ride full or romance, physical adventure and unforgettably vivid characters, making this a truly sensational first novel in the Dustlands trilogy.


The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page MorganThe Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

It was bizarre and inexplicable, and after it happened, Ingrid Waverly was forced to leave her life in London behind. Exiled in gothic Paris with her mother and her younger sister, Gabby, where disturbingly, the house rented by Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, isn’t a house at all. It’s an abbey. A creepy, old abbey with a roof lined in stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And to top it all off, Grayson is missing. Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows that he’s in grave danger, and that it’s up to her and Gabby to find him before all hope is lost. And yet the path to him is more dangerous than she could ever imagine.


The Rising by Kelley ArmstrongThe Rising by Kelley Armstrong

The heart-stopping final book in the Darkness Rising trilogy, from New York Times-bestselling author Kelley Armstrong!

Things are getting desperate for Maya and her friends. Hunted by two powerful Cabals, they’re quickly running out of places to hide. And with the whole world thinking they died in a helicopter crash, they can’t simply go to the authorities for help. All they have is the name and number of someone who might be able to give them a few answers. Answers to why they’re so valuable to the Cabals, and why their supernatural powers are getting more out of control. Maya is unprepared for the truths that await her, but she’ll have to face them if she ever hopes to move on with her life. Because she can’t keep running forever.


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The book The New York Times called “a fiendishly plotted mind game of a novel!”

Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during the Second World War. One is a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat; one is a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly, and before long they are devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors.


Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane NickersonStrands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.


What’s your favourite young adult novel with a strong female lead? Let us know in the comments!

About Ainsley

Ainsley Sparkes is an avid reader and knitter. She feels that once she learns to knit and read simultaneously she’ll be unstoppable. A life-long love of books has led her to this position as Online Marketing Coordinator at Random House of Canada. But who knows, her recently reignited interest in mystery novels may convince her to give it all up to become a detective. You should follow Ainsley on Twitter here @RandomHouseCA. or here @AinsleySparkes.

9 Responses to “7 Great Young Adult Novels with a Strong Female Lead”

  1. Tracy says:

    Really liked Dualed. Blood Red Road was ok. The beautiful and the Cursed sounds like a good one but my favourite on the list is The Rising by Kelley Armstrong.

  2. Donnette says:

    The Girl Who Could Fly is another novel that supports a strong female protagonist. Read it with my 9 and 12 year old girls on a trip to Florida. Great female bonding experience. It ranks up there with the Hunger Games.

  3. Phill says:

    Trudi Canavans Black Magician series seems like it should be there.

  4. stacey says:

    i suggest you research the YA novels by canadian author kimberley joy peters. well written and definite appeal to young girls.

  5. Chantal says:

    Kelley Armstrong is my absolute favorite, however, the Rising is the last of two trilogies. Start with ‘the Summoning’ (first trilogy: Darkest Powers) or ‘the Gathering’ (second trilogy: Darkness Rising). You’ll enjoy ‘the Rising’ a lot more if you know what happened before!

  6. Tanya says:

    I could go on forever on this topic. Clary from the mortal instruments. Tris from divergent. Alaina from the grisha trilogy. Rose freaking Hathaway from vampire academy (don’t let the terrible name sacred you away they are fantastic!). Oh and we mustn’t forget kira from partials. Then there’s hazel in the fault in our stars. This is just the tip of the ya kick ass females iceberg. Read on!

  7. Theresa McGeragle says:

    The Birthmarked Trilogy!

  8. Boston says:

    Blood Red Road was awful.


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