This round-up of badass girl crews in YA is sponsored by Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera.
Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about. Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?
When women unite, incredible things can happen. I remember first reading about Manon and the Thirteen in Sarah J. Maas’s Heir of Fire. I was intrigued by the sheer strength so often left out of female characters in fantasy books; instead of leaving the action in the hands of male characters, Maas equips the Thirteen with fierceness and the ability to fight for change their own way. The Thirteen are not alone: from leading rebellions, to destroying enemies, to solving murders, badass girl crews are changing the plot across the pages of young adult fiction.
Read on to meet nine powerful badass girl crews in YA.
1. The Phoenix Crew in The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Hand-to-hand combat is not the only way to fight. No one knows this better than the group of young women fighting for the Phoenix, a mysterious rebel found in the shadows of the kingdom of Parthenia. Fighting with arrows, fanged snakes, and poisonous potions and powders, the group seeks justice and will follow the Phoenix to the death. Follow them in this colorful retelling of Aladdin.
2. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Led by a sarcastic teen named Mila, the Undead Girl Gang is out to solve a murder. When Mila suspects her best friend and two classmates—whom she does not particularly like—have been murdered and no one believes her, Mila decides to take matters into her own hands. Naturally, raising the murdered girls from the dead is the first step. With only seven days back in the land of the living, the four girls set out to find the killer. One problem: the undead are forced to stay within one hundred feet of Mila at the risk of turning into full-blown zombies.
3. The Crew of the Mors Novis in Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
As the captain of the ship Mors Novis, Caledonia leads a crew comprising of women and girls. After the crew of her mother’s ship was slain when Caledonia was younger, she chose to gather her own crew. Now she has set off onto the sea to exact revenge against Lir and the Bullets and the others who killed her friends and family.
4. Mirabella, Bree, and Elizabeth in Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
As one of the three queens competing to rule over Fennbirn, Mirabella does not have many people she can count on. Once she turns 16, she must use her incomparably powerful elemental powers to fight against her triplet sisters for the throne. Luckily, Mirabella has Bree and Elizabeth on her side: Bree is her childhood best friend while Elizabeth is a temple initiate who has a rebellious streak that often comes in handy.
5. The Thirteen in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
The Thirteen are introduced in the third book of the Throne of Glass series. Manon Blackbeak, the heir to the Blackbeak clan of witches, leads a group of vicious women who have tamed wyvern and are armed to the teeth. (Seriously—their teeth and their nails are weapons.) Raised to kill any who get in their way, the Thirteen can trust no one but each other. Can they get badder, fiercer, and more bloodthirsty? For sure.
6. Girls of the St. Clare’s School For Girls in Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
When the earthquake of 1906 hits the city of San Francisco, buildings topple and families are broken. Although her classmates treat her unfairly at first because of her Chinese heritage, Mercy Wong leads the girls in restoring the city. Mercy has some pretty incredible survival skills and business savvy that make her a badass character and a leader to follow.
7. The Hunters in The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
Led by the Greek goddess Artemis, the Hunters are a group of immortal and demigod teenage girls who slay beasts and swear to never fall prey to love. Although they do not make an appearance until the third book in the Percy Jackson series, these arrow wielding teens play a huge part in saving the campers of Camp Halfblood.
8. The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo
In the town of Cottonwood, the girls are born cursed with powers. Rome, Lux, and Mercy are best friends simply trying to survive life in the dusty Kansas town. Rome has the ability to fix anything; Lux can draw the attention of any man; and Mercy can ensure that there is “just enough” of whatever is needed. But then life shifts when Rome finds the journal of the woman who cursed all of Cottonwood.
9. The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
With signature long hair and bright red capes, the Boneless Mercies are a group of girls leaving death in their wake. Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are hired to put to rest the ill and elderly in a fantasy country inspired by Norse mythology. Each girl is discontent with her lot until the fates present them with an alternative: kill the monster haunting the lands and walk away rich. The story of these fierce young women is a fast-paced, female-led retelling of Beowulf.
Do you have a favorite badass girl crew in YA? Let us know in the comments. Looking for more young adult reads from diverse voices? Check out 6 YA Fantasy Novels by #OwnVoices Authors.