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!
Beatrice, AKA Tris, is a lovely character. I loved her, all the way. I didn’t find her annoying, EVER, which is really rare with books nowadays. She reacted the same way I would and she was just such an exciting character. (Gosh, my heart is pounding just writing this review! IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD!) (Sophia, Goodreads reviewer)
About a girl who has to decide between being brave, selfless, or peaceful in a society where you can only be one. If you love the Hunger Games, READ THIS BOOK! If you don’t, READ THIS BOOK! (Dark Faerie Tales, Goodreads 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 considered vermin by her step-mother. When the handsome Prince Kai needs an android repaired, Cinder finds herself at the center of an intergalatic struggle. 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
This was a very light cute read and I enjoyed it thoroughly! I loved the futuristic space-y setting and the fact that Cinder was a mechanic. I also appreciated the Asian influences and diversity. (Sara, Goodreads reviewer)
Cinder’s character is great, I found her sarcasm to be entertaining and felt for her when she battled with people’s reactions to her. Kai is the perfect prince charming, but this prince charming is struggling to lead a country, avoid a war and fight a plague. He is faced with some decisions that will cause harm no matter his choice and I hope he is able to find another option than the ones he’s faced with. (Ashlee, Goodreads 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
I have read a lot of dystopian novels in the past few years, and this one stands out from the masses. I loved almost every aspect of it. The plot moved fairly quickly, and you never knew what direction it was going to go in. (Samantha, Goodreads reviewer)
I absolutely LOVED this book! The story sucked me right in and Avlyn’s world felt so *real.* Lena was probably my favorite character, and I loved the relationship between Meyer and Avlyn. It felt natural and not at all rushed like some other relationships in books sometimes are. (Britt, Goodreads 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
The story begins at 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
This book surprised me in so many ways. There were parts that you could predict but then he added things to those parts that you didn’t see coming. I normally don’t fall head over heels for books that switch povs a lot, but Yancey did it so flawlessly! The characters were witty, smart, and charming. (Angela, Goodreads reviewer)
Aliens. Immediately people have certain ideas in their heads about what that means. Yancey plays with that idea a little. Aliens have been amongst us for thousands of years, apparently. They’ve been inside us and have a definite plan set up to eradicate the human race. Cue a brash action-packed novel. (Karen, Goodreads 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
The friendship here is literally to die for. Laila and Addy have it all – the funny banter, sarcastic comebacks, emotional support and they love each other more than any of the boys. Their love is so strong that it defines the entire book. I loved every second of it. (Amelia, Goodreads reviewer)
Though it is a science fiction story, per se, it leaned heavily towards a contemporary romance in half the book and science fiction in the other half. It easily appeals to the hopeless romantic and the lighter science fiction lovers. Every girl deserves a Trevor in her life, and for around three hundred pages you can imagine he’s yours. (Moriah, Goodreads 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 wanted to become rich, not be a hero. 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
Jazz Bashura is a smuggler with an insanely high IQ, who is also one of the top smugglers in Artemis (the first and only city on the moon). Life on Artemis isn’t all sunshine and daisies since it’s still wildly expensive to get to. Therefore, the economy must rely on the ultra-rich tourists and business billionaires, which leaves the actual citizens of Artemis with nothing but scraps. Jazz works as a sort of courier making deliveries. Since Jazz’s life goal is to finally be rich and out of the slums, she teams up with her Earth friend Kevin to earn money smuggling goods between Artemis and Earth to earn extra cash. (Toya, Goodreads reviewer)
The characters were also developed exceptionally well, which is not always true or entirely necessary for science fiction, but is an added bonus here. Jazz was an incredibly fun character to read about, she was snarky, sarcastic and down right diabolical. (Amanda, Goodreads 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!