The best YA dystopian novels with strong female (and one young boy) protagonists

The Books I Picked & Why

The City of Ember

By Jeanne DuPrau

Book cover of The City of Ember

Why this book?

This book is closer to MG than YA, but great all the same. It takes place underground and the lights keep going out. How creepy is that! I couldn’t wait to find out why they were down there and see if they could get out! While I was reading it, I kept wondering what happened? What made them go underground, and why did they stay? I won’t tell you what happens, but I will say this book was thought-provoking and a really fascinating read.

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By Suzanne Collins

Book cover of Mockingjay

Why this book?

Like so many other readers, I grew to love Katniss. She only did her, you know? She spoke her truth, and she won followers by being strong, even when she felt she wasn’t. I would have chosen the first book, but I think it’s on all the lists, so I chose this one because it brings resolution to the horror of what people in the lesser districts had to endure during the games, and it puts an end to that violence and injustice.

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By Veronica Roth, Nicolas Delort

Book cover of Divergent

Why this book?

I love strong female protagonists and Tris doesn’t disappoint. I love when she does the same physically demanding stunts the guys do without batting an eye. What a tough cookie! I didn’t mind the romance, but that’s not really my thing. The story was intriguing enough to make me wonder what had happened to create this world, and I was always rooting for Tris to find out answers to the questions she had.

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The Giver

By Lois Lowry

Book cover of The Giver

Why this book?

This story is on the younger end of my referral list, and the protagonist is a young boy, but I really love it because it made me think. Jonas may be young, but he questions the reasoning and logic behind so much of what he is expected to accept at face value. This story challenges readers on every page to put the pieces together as Jonas does, and it holds lots of surprises! I loved the high moral standards Jonas had.

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The 100

By Kass Morgan

Book cover of The 100

Why this book?

Clarke is a natural leader who wants to take care of everyone but herself, and she will sacrifice her safety for others all in a world that defies the logic of the one she’d always known. She is frail and emotional, but tough when she needs to be, and she develops close bonds with just a few special people, while caring about all, even the ones she wants to shoot with a rifle or hang by a rope.

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