The best action-packed, post-apocalyptic fictions with a female protagonist

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been heavily immersed in the fantasy and sci-fi world since the age of nine, across fiction novels, role-playing games, tabletop miniature gaming, and movies. My first love was fantasy, and that’s one of the reasons why the post-apocalyptic genre particularly appeals to me when it comes to sci-fi. It plays in that dark, gritty place between futuristic, sci-fi, technology, and dark-age style fantasy. In addition, I’ve always felt socially conscious and value writing that highlights themes that are relevant today. This is another place that the post-apocalyptic genre slides comfortably into. And, of course, there’s the zombies. Another fantasy element that works beautifully in post-apocalyptic, sci-fi settings.


I wrote...

Salvage

By Martin Rodoreda,

Book cover of Salvage

What is my book about?

Excessive mining, human pollution, and war have left Earth devastated and all but inhabitable to humans. The Dome, built over the city of Sydney and controlled by the tyrant Silmac, protects what is possibly the last bastion of civilisation. 

When Silver is abandoned out in the badlands by her salvage crew, she must fight for survival to make it back to safety. But she soon finds that the Dome no longer offers the protection it once did, as she faces betrayal, makes new alliances, and uncovers secrets that will bring her into conflict with Silmac himself. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Red Sister

Martin Rodoreda Why did I love this book?

I loved this book for its combination of fantasy and sci-fi, the gritty and grim world Lawrence has created, and the high-energy and higher-stakes action sequences that fill the book.

I loved that it was unexpected. Lawrence's post-apocalyptic world concept was unique and fresh, compellingly combining the technology of a dying world with supernatural themes. I certainly did not expect the convent setting and nun-in-training protagonist in a sci-fi storyline, and yet that’s what I got in his main character, Nona Grey.

I love the tension and suspense created in the frequent action sequences Nona finds herself in, which left me wanting more and more. This leads to the last thing I really loved about this book: that it continued across two more books: Grey Sister and Holy Sister.

By Mark Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Red Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's not until you're broken that you find your sharpest edge.

"I was born for killing - the gods made me to ruin."

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices' skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don't truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought…


Book cover of The Hunger Games

Martin Rodoreda Why did I love this book?

I love the contrast of bleak desperation with gross opulence and excess that Collins creates in The Hunger Games.

The parallels between Panem and Rome turn what could otherwise be seen as a somewhat far-fetched or unlikely story into a reasonably plausible post-apocalyptic future possibility. I enjoyed the building of tension in the lead-up to the beginning of the games, as well as the explosive release and action when Katniss finally enters the arena.

I liked the way Collins creates an enemy in the very terrain of the arena itself so that, when coupled with the threat of the other contestants, the tension is heightened even further. 

By Suzanne Collins,

Why should I read it?

45 authors picked The Hunger Games as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...


Book cover of Feed

Martin Rodoreda Why did I love this book?

I love the way that Grant has written this book as part American political conspiracy theory, part zombie apocalypse. It certainly takes the political drama into a whole new place!

I liked the mechanics of how the world came to be infected with zombies and the “living with Zombies” society Grant has constructed, which I found to be well thought-out, researched, and believable. I loved the surprises in this book, the unusual relationships that Georgia Mason has with her brother and with their parents, and the general quirks and habits of her and her brother Shaun.

I enjoyed the criticisms that the book makes, particularly around journalism, religion, social media, and politics, and perhaps on the American psyche of distrust towards authority, while appreciated that it did not descend into full-blown conspiracy theory paranoia.

By Mira Grant,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Feed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BOOK 1 IN THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES

'Gripping, thrilling and brutal . . . a masterpiece of suspense' Publishers Weekly

'The zombie novel Robert A. Heinlein might have written' Sci-Fi Magazine

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives -…


Book cover of The Reapers Are the Angels

Martin Rodoreda Why did I love this book?

What I love most about this book is how Bell uses a zombie apocalypse to explore the complexities of humanity. I felt that Bell uses the zombie threat as a backdrop to look at how people respond under intense pressure.

I enjoyed the contrast of each character’s response to the apocalypse, ranging from kindness and fellowship to exploitation, violence, and madness. I liked the way Bell creates the protagonist Temple to be both innocent and kind whilst being plagued by guilt and tormented by a belief that she is a sinner.

I also liked the complexities and seeming paradox of the antagonist Moses Todd, whose dogged pursuit of Temple is at times Terminator-like and yet somehow almost chivalric in nature, operating under a code of honor, even if it is a misguided one. 

By Alden Bell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Reapers Are the Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe...

Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is just trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnant of mankind who have survived, at times, seem to retain little humanity themselves.

This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization - and to those who…


Book cover of The Queen of the Tearling

Martin Rodoreda Why did I love this book?

I loved that this book took me back to my fantasy roots and is epic fantasy at its best.

The post-apocalyptic theme in this book is not obvious at first and is only really explained as the trilogy progresses. I love that Kelsea is nothing like a normal protagonist, perhaps a result of this mysterious and uncertain history. I found it authentic that she was inexperienced, lacking in confidence, and had to labour hard to mature and find her place and role in the story.

I loved the dark, sinister, and mysterious nature of the antagonist, the Red Queen. And I loved the setting, the kingdoms, the threat of war, the chivalry of knights, and the threat of assassins.

By Erika Johansen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen of the Tearling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret after her mother - a monarch as vain as she was foolish - was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea's uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea's nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman…


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The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

By Andy Darby,

Book cover of The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

Andy Darby Author Of Me and The Monkey

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Fantasy lover Psychonaut Cat dad Designer Metalhead

Andy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Dr Dee has designs for a British Empire that will dominate the world for ages to come ushering in Revelation, and with the aegis of the Angels, he has the power to make it a reality.

But, two elements are missing, and through blackmail and occult ritual, infamous swordswoman Captain Lament Evyngar and her giant Dutch comrade are forced to journey to the war-ravaged Spanish Netherlands on a quest that will reveal the truth about strange entities that use humans to fight out their eternal conflicts and in doing so alter Lament and the course of history forever.

The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

By Andy Darby,

What is this book about?

Infamous swordswoman Captain Lament Evyngar awaits execution in the Tower of London, charged with heresy and attempted regicide, but all is not as it seems. Unwittingly entangled in the schemes of the Angels, she recounts her tale to the Queen's sorcerer, Dr Dee, who is more than a little responsible for her predicament.

Dr Dee has designs for a British Empire that will dominate the world for ages to come, and with the aegis of the Angels, he has the power to make it a reality. But, two elements are missing, and through blackmail and occult ritual, Lament and her…


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