Best brave novels to inspire your teenage daughter

Have you read any Young Adult fiction recently? Because, seriously, YA fiction is where it’s all happening. Strong characters, gripping plots, imaginative worldscapes – the best YA books are packed with all the juiciest elements of fiction. Perfect for inspiring teenage daughters to take on life at full tilt. Here’s my pick of the best!

(Obviously, all these books can be read by boys too. I just think that these particular books have strong female characters with the kind of bravery and resourcefulness that I would wish for every teenage girl to carry her through to adulthood and beyond.)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is the best Young Adult book I have ever read. It was so good that I read it again straight away. Then I went out and bought copies to give to all my female friends and family (of all ages!). Set in World War II, it tells the story of two extraordinary young female pilots and their against-the-odds intense friendship. The bravery, ingenuity and love shown by the two heroines is breath-taking and utterly inspiring. Buy a copy for yourself as well as your daughter/niece/neighbour and be prepared to cry buckets, it’s brilliant.

If horror is your daughter’s genre, The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey really delivers. It’s a zombie novel but packs so much more too. Melanie is clever, brave, loving and wise – but highly original too. She is also a child zombie torn between helping her human teacher or eating her! Poignant as well as terrifying, a truly gripping read.


Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve is worth reading just to get to know Hester. Hester might not be the main character in this book but she is definitely the most interesting.  She is a total kick-ass character – angry and violent with a fierce temper and a lust for vengeance. However she is loyal and brave and wiling to die for those she loves. Perfect for a passionate teenager working out who she is and what she believes in. (And, best of all, you grow to love Hester despite her flaws).

The Territory by Sarah Govett is the first book in a trilogy featuring a blighted world of global warming where only the brightest are allowed to remain in the unflooded lands. After exams at 15, the rest are sent to the Wetlands and almost certain death (so lots of echoes of the pressures put on GCSE students there!). The heroine Noa is a bright girl growing up in an unfair world with the odds stacked against her. This first volume is fairly tame but the second one (Escape) sees Noa get down and dirty as she attempts to rescue her friend Jack from the Wetlands.

The L-shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks is pretty vintage now and not specifically Young Adult. It’s also far slower-paced and more reflective than the previous books. But this was my teenage coming-of-age book so I had to include it. True, the heroine ends up pregnant and living in a bedsit without adequate heating or a fridge, so perhaps not the ideal role model. But it’s really about striking out on your own as a young woman despite the odds being stacked against you. I re-read it recently, and it had stood the test of time.

The Hunger Games Trilogy probably deserves a place on this list too – Katniss Everdeen is such a cool character, brave and beautiful whilst still being flawed and human. But I’m figuring you have already discovered that one (and if you haven’t, or if you have only watched the films, the books are definitely worth the effort).

If I have missed off your favourite Young Adult book, please comment below and share your recommendation. No spoiling the plots though. And huge thanks to my phenomenally well-read friend Lindsey Blake for her input in choosing and reviewing these brilliant YA novels!

Got a younger child? Check out these Books for raising confident girls and Books for boys who dare to be different. Or these recommended books for teenage boys.

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This is not a sponsored post, I chose these books because I honestly recommend them. But it does contain affiliate links which means that if you click through from this post and buy the book on Amazon, I will receive a small fee. For more details, see my Disclosure Notice.

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4 thoughts on “Best brave novels to inspire your teenage daughter

  1. Heather

    Not sure if it’s classed as YA but The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was amazing. Switching between WWI and 1947 it brings together two women in a wonderful story of unlikely friendship and coming of age. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommended it to all my friends.

  2. Caroline

    My daughter (and husband) love the Sarah J Maas Throne of Glass action packed fantasy books about a female assassin. Not my thing at all but my daughter keeps telling me I should read them!


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