Top 10 Young Adult Heroines in the Last Decade

[tps_header]Top 10 in the Last 10! I’m very clever, you know.[/tps_header]

Whether or not you’ve ever picked up a Young Adult book, much can be said for the fact that you’ve probably at least heard of a few. From book adaptations to big screens and little screens alike, this genre is basically plastering itself to your side and saying, “It’s time.”

Not convinced? Well, besides the fact that more often than not YA lit has impeccable world building, a slap of angst, a right hook of fluff, and just the right amount of a body slam full of powerful dialogue, there is of course, the heroines. These are not just any heroines, but also everyday ones. Whether they’re saving the world, trying to get through the awful school day, or falling in love (maybe all at the same time), it’s their open hearts and innermost thoughts that give us the satisfied feeling at the end of a heroic journey.

Here are the top ten heroines of YA lit in the last decade, in my humble (and book obsessed) opinion.

[tps_title]10. Katsa, Graceling by Kristin Cashore



If the first sentence of the description doesn’t already set you for an immediate read (“Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight”), then I just don’t know what to tell you.

Okay, that’s a lie. Here’s what I’ll tell you: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight. She’s also got two different colored eyes, she’s the King’s niece, she falls in love with a prince named Po (it’s glorious), and she manages to steal your breath away in the midst of all this and then some.

Katsa is an independent woman who doesn’t need any man, and she’ll sure as hell tell you all about it.


Poor Po.

You can read the second and third book in the series by Kristin Cashore titled, Fire and Bitterblue.


[tps_title]09. Karou, Daughter of Smoke & Bone By Laini Taylor


Other than the fact that her name sounds like a superhero, Karou also has natural blue hair, a killer knack for drawing (she’s an art student!), and she grabs the attention of a super attractive guy named Akiva. She’s also an extremely well rounded and beautiful character. In a paranormal world packed with mythological creatures, there is a powerful guide to this book that leads you to the end, holding your breath. The novel is told in third person, but the stripped down to the bone, metallic truth, emotions and characterizations are so well-done you’ll prefer it by the end. In a fast-paced book full to the brim with lessons of growing up and learning, Karou will also have you wishing you had half the knowledge and sharp wit she has under her belt.

You can read more about Karou in the last two books of the trilogy, Days of Blood & Starlight and Dreams of Gods & Monsters.

Above is a fan made trailer for the books.

[tps_title]08. Blue, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


You may know Maggie Stiefvater from her previous trilogy, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, but in 2012 Maggie released a better book than all three of those combined. As of late, I’ve seen fandom happenings within the Raven Boys series, but I’ve only seen talk about the boys. Which are fine, dandy, and a nice up of tea, but Blue Sargent is the main character, and a fine one at that. The first book isn’t technically told in Blue’s POV (third person squad? See previous.), which is ultimately refreshing in the YA genre. Blue has been told since she was young that the day she kisses her true love is the day he will die. Super morbid, right? Also throw in the fact that she’s the daughter of her town’s psychic; however, Maggie doesn’t let it deter the racing-of-the-blood plot and overall execution of a great heroine, but uses it to make it so much better. Set in a boarding school in Virginia, it lays on the creepy, shivery vibe without going overboard.

You can catch Blue and all the cute, mysterious boys in The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and the upcoming fourth and final book in the series, The Raven King, due out February 23, 2016.

The attached clip is a fan-made opening credits montage for a potential (and DEMANDED) TV series based off of the books.

[tps_title]07. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

(2005) (2007)

Does this even need an explanation?

These are the only two Harry Potter books in the series I can use in this list, and the two that are my absolute favorite. Hermione is a character so equivalent to that of a heroine, I wish I could just list all the reasons in no particular order as to why she should be on any list ever.

If I could put Hermione Granger on my grocery list, I would. Alas, that’s not technically possible. She’s the brains, wit, and fervor that carries the trio through Hogwarts. From the minute she’s on the page, to the end of Deathly Hallows, waving her first child off to their very first year of Hogwarts (next to Ron and Harry, of course), she’s fearless, brave, and altogether a touching heroine without even being the “main character.”

Just watch the attached clip. You won’t regret it.

[tps_title]06.Quintana, Quintana of Charyn (The Lumatere Chronicles) by Melina Marchetta


Quintana, Quintana. I could wax many a poem about Quintana, with her snarl and her vivacity. Inside her head is the best and worst place a reader can hope to be. Quintana is brave without a flinch, quick to the bone, and exposed within sorrow that teeters the edge of too close to home. She’s a heroine in every sense of the word, if there’s ever a specific definition. At moments it’s mentally challenging to see through the eyes of Quintana, in the way that she’s ever holding to her past, but Marchetta does an impeccable job with creating a character you’re sympathetic to, hopeful for, but also in a war with. A devastating tale with a brutally honest and beautiful heroine.

You can read more of Marchetta’s work within this series by picking up Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles.

[tps_title]05. Cinder, Cinder by Marissa Meyers


Cyborgs? Check. An extremely unique setting? Check. A badass remake of the Cinderella tale? Check. Set in New Beijing, China, a mechanic named Cinder is an annoying pest to half of her stepsisters and a nuisance to her step mother. Let’s not forget the fact that she’s a cyborg. All of this adds up to a cleverly-done tale by Marissa Meyer. As a mechanic, Cinder does very mechanical things, like fix Prince Kai’s android. In the true fairy tale fashion that gives you as much of a satisfied feeling as the original Cinderella, this one is just as sweet. Prince Kai is unaware of Cinder’s cyborg status, and thus the plot begins to weave. Throw in a deadly disease that’s spreading like wildfire, a Lunar Queen, some more romance, an unexpected ending, and an independent ready to save the world kick-ass main character, it gets really, really good. Cinder is a heroine that not only gives you a giggly feeling, but also brings on the feisty and fiery, where the heroine is as engaging as she is heroic.

Check out the book trailer above!

[tps_title]04. Esa, Hold You Close by Barbara Farquharson Scott


As you all can tell by now, fantasy world building is a definite “YEESSS” for me. It’s not even close to becoming quenched, and with the amazing YA fantasy books hitting shelves as of late, I don’t think it’ll come close. Hold You Close presses all the right buttons with a courageous, crack-of-the-whip female character, while also noting that there’s female dragons. YEESSS.

Not only with a beautiful cover and a spell-binding love story, the main character Esa fills the pages with courage and poise. In a world full of dragons, shape shifters, and a heart-wrenching love, Esa is a character that every reader can relate to. Esa is written as mesmerizing as the cover suggests (that cover, though), while also being vulnerable, but her vulnerability is that much more comforting (but also HEART-WRENCHING) when you reach the end. Also, for all the romance lovers out there (I write this while looking in the mirror), you won’t be disappointed, I promise (HEART-WRENCHING). As powerful as she is impactful, Esa is a heroine not many will easily forget, in her world or ours.

You can read further into the Chasing Dragons series by downloading the companion novel, Chasing Dragons: Vengeance, on Smashwords and Amazon.

Isn’t that cover amazing?

[tps_title]03. Ruby, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken


There’s something to be said about the way that you can read a book and connect to it on a level that’s outside of yourself. A book where you can see it happening in a week, a month, a year, maybe even tomorrow, and all to the world around you. The Darkest Minds presents to us a world that’s not very far-fetched at all, and, besides that, gives us a gift in the form of Ruby Daly. She’s a courageous character that’s been through hell since she was ten (shipped off to a concentration camp), and continues to bend the rules of selflessness as the plot develops and the pages turn. She’s a heroine meant for all of us to know, breathe in, and love. Her strength is tested, her heart is tested, and she faces it head-on. Let’s also not forget to mention that there is a romance, and it’s one for the ages. Brilliant.

You can read the follow-up books in the Darkest Minds series in the form of books Never Fade and In The Afterlight, along with a compilation called Through The Dark.

Another book trailer for you! I just love awkward narration.

[tps_title]Verity, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein


There isn’t much I can say here without giving away too many spoilers, but I’ll say this: Verity is a very important female heroine. All of the heroines listed here (and then some) are all in their own way special, exceptional, and all other synonyms, but there is something so realistic in this character. She’s set in the WWII era, which everyone learns about in History courses, Social Studies 101, and even while reading Hemingway; however, I think that’s what makes this book so compelling, and the female heroine so reachable but inspiring. You’re able to connect a character with a very real and raw state of time and being. Verity, AKA Queenie, a British spy young woman, has been kidnapped by the Gestapo circa 1943 on an obviously gone wrong mission. The novel is presented as a confession from Julie (AKA Verity AKA Queenie), but as you read on, there is a realization that not everything is as it seems, but the one thing you can count on is that Verity is a God among mere mortals.


She’s flawed, compelling, and possesses a token of gold within her heart that many readers will look for in themselves even before they reach the end.

There’s also another badass female named Maggie who’s just as fiercely amazing as Verity. Two uplifting and beautiful heroines in one? Go! Read it now!

You know the drill for the above clip by now, I’m sure.

[tps_title]01. Mare, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Okay, I know what you’re all thinking already: “Brooke. What? Are you sure?” Which is generally what many people say to me when I express my obviously great opinions via the internet or in person, but hear me out, guys. Mare Barrow is one of those characters that was relatable to me. Have you ever read a book where you shut the cover and sat for a minute to decompress and enjoy the afterglow? This was not one of those for me, but the kind where I shut the cover and desperately yearned for more. Mare is a character who is flawed, but ultimately wants the best for everyone around her. She makes extremely overzealous decisions regarding her people and is in a bit of need for some character development, but she is overall an extremely gorgeous heroine who gets the “You’re a wizard, Harry” line and then kicks some butt. Lucky for me (and you!) Victoria is signed on to do two more books, making this a trilogy.

Is it 2016, yet?

Above is an ‘official’ trailer for the book. Time for the movie trailer, please.



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