International Women’s Day 2020: Incredible YA books by female authors to read right now

Here's a list of essential young adult novels from a range of genres to pick up this IWD

Karly Cox |

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In honour of International Women’s Day 2020, we’ve put together a list of essential YA books in a range of genres – all written by women – to add to your TBR


A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole 

Octavia wants to be a scientist on her planet, Faloiv. But when that opportunity opens up to her, she discovers that everything she thought she knew about her planet, her dream job and herself aren’t what they thought.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi 

Juliette has a special power: her touch is lethal. She’s been imprisoned for killing someone – by accident, and yet her “crime” seems more important to those in power than the fact people are dropping dead of diseases, there’s no food anywhere, birds no longer fly ... utter dystopia. But when the leaders sense there may be an uprising, they decide they may need to use Juliette’s unique force. But is she prepared to be a weapon?

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Crime fiction

The Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri 

If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you need to check out this story about his partner John Watson’s granddaughter, Portia. When she inherits 221B Baker Street, it isn’t only the detective’s former home she succeeds to, but his curiosity and passion for solving crimes – and ending up in sticky situations.


S.T.A.G.S by M. A. Bennett 

Lonely Greer is new at school, and shunned for being less wealthy than her classmates. One day, though, she is invited by rich boy Henry to a weekend hunting trip at his country estate – only she doesn’t realise until she arrives that she and two fellow misfits are there to be the hunted, not the hunters. It’s going to take every gram of her smarts to stay ahead of the pack – and stay alive.

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

Tina is a thief who’s been living on the streets for years since her mother was murdered. She is setting up a scheme to take revenge on Roland Greyhill, the man she believed killed her mum – but before she can carry it out, she is caught stealing by Greyhill’s son, Michael. He promises not to report her – on condition that she consider that his dad is innocent, and work with him to prove it.


The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu 

Lu is known for her stellar sci-fi and fantasy, but this latest release (just out last week!) combines that latter genre with historical fiction. It tells a story of the relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister, Maria Anna, aka Nannerl. She, at first, is the musical genius, but Wolferl begins to eclipse him. So when a mystical prince shows up from a kingdom Nannerl had invented, and offers to help bring her brother down a peg or two, she agrees. She just doesn’t realise that there is more to the deal than she intended.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge 

Hark and his best friend Jelt make a living by collecting “godware”, scavenged bits of the old gods who once ruled their island. When Hark gets arrested, and sent to work for a scientist, he finds a strange object that seems to heal people. But it seems to have an even greater power than that – one that could see the long-dead, monstrous gods return.

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Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari

In a world where there are no bees, children are forced to work on farms, and pollinate the crops so plants can grow. But the farm where Shifa and her brother Themba work is particularly harsh. They need to get out. The journey ahead will be beyond dangerous, but if they don’t try, it’s more than their own well-being at risk; the entire world depends on their success.

Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay 

It’s 1899, and Samkad lives in a village deep the Philippine jungles. He is about to undergo the rites of passage that will make him a man, when a stranger arrives – a white man. This is the first time Samkad has met anyone who doesn’t look or sound like him, and the first in a series of events that will threaten his village, his people and his life. How he reacts to these changes may affect his future, and that of everyone and everything he cares about.

Historical fiction

Firebird by Elizabeth Wein 

Inspired by the Soviet female combat pilots of the second world war, this story tells of Nastia, a young, loyal pilot signed up to save the motherland. But as she learns more about the war, she starts to question everything she has been told, and everything she is expected to do for the “good” of the nation.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls 

Set in Britain during the first world war, three young women from very different social classes are brought together through their desire for independence and the right to speak up. As Suffragettes, they are willing to go to extremes to fight for their rights – but they also have the reality of everyday life, plus an escalating war, to deal with.

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Graphic novel

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova 

The first in a series of stories about life in junior secondary school, Peppi’s first day at a new school gets off to a really bad, horrible, no-good start when she trips over and is helped up by a nerd – not the sort of boy she wants to be associated with, so she shoves him and runs off. She realises that she has behaved badly, but is too awkward to apologise. But things are about to get even more cringeworthy ...

The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

The author was 18 when she wrote this book, so it’s an honest, realistic snapshot of teenage girl life, told through photos, random thoughts and sketches.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This memoir tracks the author’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic revolution of the early 1980s. Her story is both personal, and reflective of a time and nation few people outside of the Middle East perhaps know much about.