From dimension jumping to time travel to aliens next door to dystopian futures, these ten series would not have been the same without the awesome heroines leading the way.
Heads up – there are a few spoilers in here, so if you haven’t read these books, maybe skip past those ones.
- Marguerite Caine – Firebird by Claudia Gray
She steals her parents’ dimension-travelling device in order to jump into another dimension in the hopes of chasing down her dad’s (supposed) murderer. That sentence alone should explain why she’s at the top of this list.
But throughout the series, Marguerite is constantly proving how awesome she is, over and over again. She has to constantly think on her toes, bluffing her way through each new dimension. And then there’s the whole saving Paul Markov (sigh) from his hideous fate and destroying the multi-dimensional corporation that is trying to use her.
“My hate is stronger than the dimensions, stronger than memory, stronger than time. My hate is now the truest part of who I am.” A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1)
- Juliette Ferrars – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
When we’re first introduced to Juliette, she’s fragile, weak, and frankly a little boring. She has very little confidence in herself (understandable given what she’s been through) and is completely dependent on Adam for reassurance and acceptance.
But that’s just in the beginning. Over the course of the series her character grows and changes until she is barely recognisable. She learns how to control her ‘curse’, becomes self-dependent and ends up being a totally kick-arse leader in the fight against the supreme commander.
“For so many years I lived in constant terror of myself. Doubt had married my fear and moved into my mind, where it built castles and ruled kingdoms and reigned over me, bowing my will to its whispers until I was little more than an acquiescing peon, too terrified to disobey, too terrified to disagree. I had been shackled, a prisoner in my own mind.
But finally, finally, I have learned to break free.” Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)
- Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I’m not gonna lie, after three books and four movies I’m kinda a little over The Hunger Games. But that doesn’t change the fact that Katniss is one of the most kick-arse heroines of YA fiction and deserves a place near the top of this list.
Coming from practically nothing to become the ‘girl on fire’, she survives in the arena against all odds and defies the Capitol when she chooses to save Peeta as well. She sparks a revolution as the ‘Mockingjay’…and then she becomes a totally loose cannon in book three, executing the wrong leader.
“Only I keep wishing I could think of a way…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.” The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
- Linh Cinder – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Fun fact: The Lunar Chronicles is the only series on this list told from a third person POV. In this series we had not one, not two, but four incredible heroines, who could all easily be on this list in their own right. I’ve chosen Cinder because she was there from the very start—she was what drew me in and got me addicted to the series in the first place.
Cinder is a cyborg and an alien—I don’t think we can get much more sci-fi than that! Living in futuristic Beijing, where prejudice against her kind runs rife, Cinder toils away her days as a mechanic, until her path crosses with that of Prince Kai, when he asks her to mend his android.
This is such a fascinating series, combing science fiction with some of our favourite fairy tales, and despite the fact that there are other strong female leads, Cinder really is the centrepiece of it all.
“Soon, the whole world would be searching for her–Linh Cinder.
A deformed cyborg with a missing foot.
A Lunar with a stolen identity.
A mechanic with no one to run to, nowhere to go.
But they will be looking for a ghost.” Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
5. June Iparis – Legend by Marie Lu
I mentioned the Legend series in my YA Book Boyfriends list, because I’m totally head over heels for its main man, Day. June is the lucky girl that gets to spend all her time with Day throughout the series. And fortunately, she’s just about as awesome as he is.
The teenaged ‘Prodigy’ of the Republic, June is the perfect soldier—brilliant, resourceful, an exceptional fighter—until she uncovers the truth about her brother’s death and joins forces with the Republic’s number one enemy, creating a superteam of awesomness.
“I could be compassionate, if I wanted. Metias would be merciful. But I was never as good a person as my brother.” Legend (Legend #1)
- Ellie Linton – Tomorrow by John Marsden
So technically the Tomorrow series is not sci fi. It’s more of a ‘what if’ kind of story—what if you went camping with your friends and returned home to find out your country had been invaded? But despite the fact that there are no aliens or ‘out of this time’ technology and the like, it is often categorised as dystopian, and considering how awesome Ellie is, I’m rolling with that.
Ellie is the narrator of the series—a regular Aussie teenager who returns from a fun trip away with her friends to find her world changed forever. I think the thing I love most about Ellie is how real she seems. So many of her reactions to the ever more dangerous situations are so genuine you start to feel like you actually know this girl.
“I felt that my life was permanently damaged, that I could never be normal again, that the rest of my life would just be a shell.” Tomorrow When the War Began (Tomorrow #1)
- Kricket – Kricket by Amy A. Bartol
Here we have us another alien. Kricket thought she was just a normal girl—a foster runaway living on the down low—until the is kidnapped by a group of guys and taken to another planet, where she is apparently at the very centre of a war that is breaking out.
Despite the drastic overhaul in her life and the amount of adjustments she has to make, Kricket handles it all pretty well. She manages to master diplomacy (sort of), kick some serious butt, and fall in love…twice.
“Oh, I’m so going to put a knife in the other side of your chest, I think, feeling stabby.” Sea of Stars (Kricket #2)
- Tris Prior – Divergent by Veronica Roth
I will admit, Tris really got on my nerves in book two, Insurgent, but she was pretty damn awesome in the first and third book so I’m giving her a pass.
In a world where being different is the most dangerous thing possible, Tris finds herself a mix of three different factions—Dauntless, Abnegation and Erudite—she chooses Dauntless (and who wouldn’t with guys like Four running around there), which goes to show just how kick-arse she is. She is the first to jump from the roof, and she spends countless hours working on the physical component of her training and mastering her fears in the simulation, putting her at the top of the board at the end of initiation. And then she has to save everyone from Erudite’s evil plan to take over the world (or Chicago as it happens to be).
“I feel like someone breathed new air into my lungs. I am not Abnegation. I am not Dauntless.
I am Divergent.” Divergent (Divergent #1)
- Kate Pierce-Keller – The Chronos Files by Rysa Walker
Using an ‘out of this time’ medallion given to her by her grandmother, Kate has to travel through time to save the world from her grandfather’s (whom she has never met) plan to re-write all of history. In the process, of course, she re-writes some of history but ah well…
I love Kate because she pretty much has to save history armed with nothing but her wits (and Kiernan… sigh). Her adventures see her thrown into dangerous situations time and again (kidnapped by one of America’s most notorious serial killers; caught up in a riot in 1960s Georgia), and she is constantly forced to make decisions that could have a ripple effect through to her own time. And all in all, she handles the pressure pretty damn well.
“Watching people you love walk into danger is a hundred times harder than walking into it yourself.” Time’s Divide (The Chronos Files #3)
- Katy Swartz – Lux by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Katy is right down the bottom of this list because, for some reason, in the final book she turns into a complete idiot. She becomes needy and whiny and everything I absolutely hate about a lot of YA heroines.
BUT prior to that she is freakin’ awesome. She has so much spunk about her and her sense of humour is fantastic. She’s a human trying to find her place in a world where she just learned aliens are real and live next door, and I have to say she adjusts to things pretty well, albeit with a few bursts of her fiery temper.
She’s a target for everyone from enemy aliens to the DOD. And then there’s all those pesky new powers she needs to deal with after Daemon saves her life and she becomes bonded to him…
‘Just because I’m human doesn’t mean I’m a coward or unethical. I’d never do anything that would put Dee in danger. Why would my life be more valuable than hers?’ Obsidian (Lux #1)
Who are you favourite heroines of sci fi? Did they make my list?