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In a reading slump? Here’s a list of YA fantasy books with kickass female leads.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SCU chapter.
The Cruel Prince – Jude

You’re playing the great game of kings and princes, of queens and crowns, aren’t you?

Kicking off this list is a book that I couldn’t put down. Seriously, one second I was just opening it up and the next it was 2 AM and I was biting my nails at the ending. I really love the entire The Folk of the Air series. It focuses on a human girl named Jude in the faerie realm who gets caught up in an adventure close to the heart of the kingdom. This first book is extremely compelling and the characters’ complexities are beautifully written. You’ll want to read more, so it’s perfect that this is the first book of a trilogy!

Shadow and Bone – Alina

And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”

There’s something about this book that makes me feel painfully normal, but in the best way. It tells the story of Alina, a powerful grisha living in a corrupt, crippled and mystical nation. This series is perfect for magic lovers— the magic that Bardugo cultivates into her world building is dark, twisted and beautiful. On top of that, the characters are swoon-worthy in a way that’s going to have you crawling back for more.

The Diabolic – Nemesis

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

This book is perfect for the sci-fi lover looking for a sprinkle of fantasy in their life. Nemesis isn’t fully human, she was designed to be a machine. But she finds herself in a setting that requires her to think and live like a human would, and live she does. The character development in this book is beautiful, and you’ll be entranced by Kincaid’s writing from the first page.

An Ember in the Ashes –  Laia

You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes. That is your destiny.

This book really took me by surprise. I wasn’t sure that I’d love it at first because I hadn’t read anything similar that had impressed me, but the sheer complexity of the plot and the characters blew me away. Laia is an amazing heroine; the combination of her wit and intensity makes for a main character that you’ll find yourself rooting for all the way. This book is wild, with twists, turns, bloodlust and a grandeur that will keep you on the edge of your seat. 

Ninth House – Alex

But would it have mattered if she’d been someone else? If she’d been a social butterfly, they would have said she liked to drink away her pain. If she’d been a straight-A student, they would have said she’d been eaten alive by her perfectionism. There were always excuses for why girls died.

Welcome to the twisted fantasy of underground societies at Yale. This book is intense, but it adds to the plot in a way that will keep your interest aflame through until the end. Alex is a mysterious character, and her story unfolds like a flower slowly unfurling petals. Threads connect different pieces of the story throughout the entire book, so this is perfect for any mystery lover. It’s critically acclaimed by James Patterson, so make sure that you’re ready for a book edging the thriller genre before you pick it up.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January – January

May she wander but always return home, may all her words be written true, may every door lie open before her.

In the life of January Scaller, there are doors that connect her to other worlds. She lives in a world that wants her to be quiet and blend in, but she’s never been any good at blending in. Her life changes when she finds an escape that takes her on more travels than she could have ever imagined. This book tells a story that’s hard to put down, and you’ll love every word of it. 

Cinder – Cinder

Even in the future the story begins with Once Upon a Time.”

Cinder is a twist on the classic Cinderella story, but not in the way you’re expecting. Welcome to New Beijing, where humans and androids rove around as one and the same. Cinder is a cyborg and she might be the crown’s last chance at saving their fragile world. Plot twists and glorious character arcs will keep your attention going strong as soon as you open up this book. 

The Shadows Between Us – Alessandra

The rebel in me loves to throw dirt in the face of decorum.

This book isn’t long, so it’s perfect for a quick read if you’re looking for a good stand alone. Alessandra is witty, intense and probably slightly crazy— but I’ll let you decide that for yourself. She’s on the well worn path to the crown, trying to gain a place for herself in a society that wants her docile, and she’ll do whatever it takes to get to the top.

Holly is currently a junior at Santa Clara University studying English. She is passionate about trying new things and sharing contemporary issues through writing. You can usually find her reading a good book with her cat, Bean.
Meghana Reddy is the Campus Correspondent for the SCU chapter of Her Campus. Currently, she is a 4th year student pursuing a Major in Neuroscience and Minor in Computer Science. Meghana is passionate about women in entrepreneurship, consulting, healthcare, women's health, and dogs! In her free time, she loves to travel, try new foods, and practice yoga!