Sci fi books with strong female leads used to be hard to find. Luckily it’s becoming more and more common to see strong female leads in science fiction books. I scoured the internet for the best books I could find and this list is the result. Do you know of any other great sci fi books with strong female leads? Please add them in the comments!
Almost all of the following books fit under the soft sci fi umbrella. I wrote a whole post on the difference between hard and soft sci fi. The main difference is soft sci fi focuses on characters, culture, and sociology whereas hard sci fi focuses on realistic science explained with technical details. And now for the top 6 sci fi books with strong female leads.
Divergent tells the thrilling story of a dystopian world that is transformed by courage, self sacrifice, and love. Beatrice Prior (“Tris”) lives in futuristic Chicago where she must choose to stay in her family’s faction or leave them for another. The choice she makes next comes as a shock to everyone, including herself. That one choice could transform everything. Even as her new life begins, Tris has a secret she’s determined to keep secret.
What Makes Divergent Unique
- Dystopian society
- Society is divided into five factions
- Candor (the honest)
- Abnegation (the selfless)
- Dauntless (the brave)
- Amity (the peaceful)
- Erudite (the intelligent)
- Lots of action!
I was hooked onto this book from the very first sentence! It only took me about a day and a half to read through the whole thing! The character of Tris was someone that I could easily relate to! (M. Addison, Amazon reviewer)
I really enjoyed the character building, getting to know her friends and her fears. The author is able to draw in the reader right from the start. (K. Blue, Amazon reviewer)
Great book with great female lead who develops a strong sense of self, trust in her own decisions, and handles some really frightening issues with strength and resilience. (E. Coyle, Amazon reviewer)
About the Author
Veronica Roth is a New York Times bestselling author. Her Divergent series was made into three movies! Veronica lives in the Chicago area with her husband and her dog. She writes full time. Her new book, Carve the Mark, looks soooo good. I’ve already added it to my “want to read” list.
In this unique fairytale retelling, Cinder is not only a mechanic, but also a cyborg! A deadly plague ravages the population of New Beijing. Cinder is a second class citizen, but somehow finds her life intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai. She learns more about her past and finds herself caught between duty and freedom. Her choices may affect the future of the entire world.
I have a serious book crush on Cinder. I was completely sucked in from the very first chapter. Cinder (and Scarlet, the second in the series) are probably two of my very favorite books ever written. I don’t want to talk it up too much because then your expectations will be too high. And everyone likes different things anyway. But in my opinion, Cinder is the ultimate blend between science fiction and fantasy!
What Makes Cinder Unique
- Cinderella is a cyborg
- Story takes place far into the future where androids are mainstream and the moon is populated
- Deals with big topics like prejudice and fear
- No love triangles
- The entire series (The Lunar Chronicles) has a whole host of strong female leads
Cinder is a retelling of the Cinderella story, but in such a different environment as to make it an almost completely different story. A gripping read. You know the story. But you don’t know the story. (Lora S., Amazon reviewer)
Great female protagonist who has many complex relationships with other female characters, from an android sister-in-arms, to the stepsister she loves, and the second stepsister and stepmother who hate her. (L. McKeough, Amazon reviewer)
Take well-written sci-fi, fuse in some fairy tale redux, set your story in a dystopian society, cast a deadly plague and aliens on the moon into the mix, add action, adventure, and romance, and bam! Cinder. I so enjoyed this book and am thrilled that there are several other novels and shorts in the series. (D. Dunstock, Amazon reviewer)
About the Author
Marissa Meyer is a New York Times bestselling author. Her breakout series, The Lunar Chronicles had unparalleled success. Marissa loves Harry Potter and Sailor Moon. She lives in Washington with her husband and two daughters.
Avlyn Lark lives in a society where emotions are nothing and function is everything. Avlyn struggles to control her emotions and wants nothing more to fit in. That becomes more difficult when a government firm hires her. The firm monitors every citizen and might expose her for what she really is. If her secret gets out, she could be killed.
What Makes Configured Unique
- Dystopian society
- Avlyn discovers she has a special ability
- Emotions are considered a weakness
- Intelligence is valued above all else
- Excellent world building
In the rather crowded market of Dystopian YA, this novel stands out for world building, a protagonist that walks the line of both flawed and likable, and some profound questions woven into the story. What is family? What is love? Who are we, beyond our roles in society? (H. Ring, Amazon reviewer)
This is one captivating book! The main character takes you through what daily life is like in this dystopian world, taking for granted things that would horrify common-day people. She has never felt quite comfortable with all of the rules though, and this glimmer inside her of how things should be sparks a whirlwind of controversy and adventure not only for herself and the people closest to her but for all of mankind. (L. Waters, Amazon reviewer)
About the Author
Jenetta Penner developed a love of sci fi at a young age. At 40, she decided on a whim to start reading YA Sci Fi books. She loved them so much, she soon started writing one. Configured is her debut novel. She lives in California with her husband, two daughters, and two fur babies.
4. The 5th Wave
It’s the dawn of the 5th wave. Cassie runs from beings who look human, but aren’t. They roam the countryside, determined to kill all of earth’s survivors. Cassie believes to stay alone is to stay alive. That is, until she meets Evan. Evan is mysterious, but might be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother. Cassie must choose to give up or to get up.
What Makes The 5th Wave Unique
- Silent invasion of aliens
- Survival vs Trust
- The 1st wave is an EMP that takes out all technology on the earth
- The 2nd wave causes massive tsunamis
- The 3rd wave infects and kills 97% of the population
- The 4th wave introduces the constant threat of drone
- The 5th wave begins and Cassie is the only human left on earth
Cassie was hilarious, feisty and strong. I loved the way she was able to think her way through almost any situation. (J. Teixeria, Amazon reviewer)
A new twist on alien invasion science fiction. I never wanted to put the book down. Full of suspense, action, and a little bit of love. The book is told from three main points of view: Cassie, Zombie, and a Silencer. (Jenn, Amazon reviewer)
About the Author
Rick Yancey is a New York Times bestseller. One of his books was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal. Another book won a Michael L. Printz Honor. He loves writing more than anything. Rick lives in Florida with his wife and youngest son.
5. Pivot Point
When Addison Coleman is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. Her parents tell her they are getting a divorce and she has to choose who she’ll live with. She’s never made a more important choice. One future is with her friends who also have special abilities. The other future is with new friends and new experiences. But fate takes a darker turn and there’s too much to lose in either future. She has to decide which reality she can live through… and who she’s willing to live without.
What Makes Pivot Point Unique?
- Addie is a Searcher and can see the two possible outcomes of each choice she makes
- The story switches back and forth between the two possibilities
- She has to choose to live with her mom or dad, but each choice carries a heavy weight
My emotions were whirling for days after finishing it, but what an amazing read! (J.H. Leigh, Amazon reviewer)
This is my favorite West book. I loved it. What an amazing way to write a story. When I first understood where this story was going and how she was writing it I thought there was no way it would all come together and work. I worried I was going to get annoyed with two story lines going on at the same time, but it was the exact opposite. I could not put this book down. (LoveBooks, Amazon reviewer)
I love the twists and also the subtle and not so subtle clues along the way. I love the ways the two stories worked side by side but also weave together. (L. Z., Amazon Reviewer)
About the Author
Kasie West likes to write YA and eat Junior Mints. She also loves wakeboarding. She lives in California with her family.
Jasmine never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. She graduates from small town smuggler to full on criminal mastermind so she can move out of her tiny apartment and pay off a large debt. Soon the heist is the least of her worries because she is thrust into a conspiracy involving all of Artemis. A killer purses her along with the law. She’s no hero, but she’s a great criminal and that’ll have to do.
What Makes Artemis Unique?
- Story takes place on the moon
- Heroine is a wisecracking criminal
- Involves a big heist and a huge conspiracy
The characters in this book are well written, and believable. I particularly enjoyed the snarky first person narrative coming from the perspective of a jaded teen-angst-ridden moon colonist. There was just enough science here to make the plot feel plausible, without getting bogged down in orbital mechanics. I think my favorite dynamic was the role gravity plays in this book, feeling almost like another character at times. (Josh, Amazon reviewer)
This is a brilliant mystery set in a near-future moon colony that’s seen from the bottom up. The characters and science are compelling, unique, and 100% believable. The action starts fast, picks up, ramps up, and then hurtles along at breakneck speed. (D. Lyle, Amazon reviewer)
About the Author
Andy Weir was a software engineer for 20 years before he wrote his first novel, The Martian. He now writes full time and loves it. He is a space nerd and lives in California.
More Sci Fi Books with Strong Female Leads
If you loved any of these books, you might like my book, Truth Seer.
Being a human lie detector is great… until you realize how often people lie. Imara’s life is finally going the way she’s always dreamed. Until her sister is taken hostage by crazed fanatics, forcing her into a fight she wants no part of.
Do you need even more books like this? My books are all sci fi books with strong female leads. You can also check out this post with 25 Soft Sci Fi/Science Fantasty books. Not all of those books have a strong female lead, but they all have strong women characters.
Want to try sci fi, but you’re not ready for a full length book? Check out my novelette, Unleash All Potential. It’s about an AI creating college girl who discovers a dark secret.
Do you know of any more sci fi books with strong female leads? Tell me about them in the comments!