Science Fiction/Fantasy

5 SFF Books About the Positive Power of Anger

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5 SFF Books About the Positive Power of Anger was originally published in our science fiction & fantasy newsletter, Swords & Spaceships. Sign up for it here to get SFF news, reviews, deals, and more!

I just finished reading Lore by Alexandra Bracken, and it was a fun urban fantasy ride with a cool Greek mythology gimmick. But the thing that really struck me about this book is the way the main character, Melora, is so angry. And while there are plenty of angry heroines (and far more angry heroes) in fiction, a lot of times the stories really focus on anger as a force that destroys the person who feels it and those around them. It’s more rare to hit on the nuance that anger can also be rocket fuel for change. In Lore, there’s no doubt about the destructive power of anger, and the effect it has on Melora’s life — but it also powers her through the changes she has to make to herself and the world.

What about some other books that examine the positive power of anger? (I must quickly mention here Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, which is definitely not SFF, but it is very much about this concept. Full disclosure: Mark and I have the same agent.)

a graphical text cover that says Zero Sum Game, in which the O is made of a bullet hole

Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

Cas Russell can use mathematics like a magic superpower to dodge bullets. But after having her memories screwed with and her life manipulated, she is rightfully mad as hell by the time she gets to Null Set. That anger powers her to fight crime — and fix the problem she herself caused by crushing her last enemies.

Queen of the Conquered cover

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

The islands of Hans Lollik have been ravaged by colonizers, with families murdered and the survivors subjugated. The anger that comes from that pain drives one woman to try exact her revenge by way of the throne, and in its sequel King of the Rising, powers former slave Loren to lead a revolution.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Navajo monster hunter Maggie Hoskie has a lot of reasons to be really mad at the world. She’s been given that anger by a lot of betrayal and a lot of death around her, and it’s been used to manipulate her. But it powers her into being almost unstoppable, both in pursuing revenge and pursuing justice.


The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season starts with an act of destructive anger, when Essun’s husband beats their son to death because he reveals he has the powers of an Orogene, someone who can manipulate seismic energies. It’s set in a world built upon injustice and iniquity, shaped by the rage of the Earth itself at what has been done to it. But Essun and many of the other characters use both their grief and the accompanying anger at what has been done to them to ultimately forge a better world — even if at great cost.

Looking for more books about channelling anger into action? Check out: