Forget movie boxsets, with the summer holidays stretching out before you, it’s all about losing yourself in a book boxset. This summer we’re celebrating some of our favourite female protagonists as they take on dangerous missions, stand up to the establishment, make lasting friendships, and maybe even fall in love.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- The Hunger Games
- Catching Fire
The Hunger Games has been read by million of teens over the last decade. The trilogy is set in the fictional country of Panem, a dystopian society where every year, children from different districts are randomly selected and forced to compete in a televised battle to the death, called the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen, the sixteen-year-old protagonist volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the games, and in the first novel we follow her through the ultimate challenge as she battles to save her own, and others, lives. This is a series about so much more than the gruesome battle it is named after though. It’s about defiance in the face of power, about human force beyond physical strength, about family and about love. It’s a gripping journey which shouldn’t be missed.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
- Northern Lights
- The Subtle Knife
- The Amber Spyglass
The enduring popularity of Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials, is testament to the unique and riveting plot of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. The intricate fantasy worlds Pullman creates, through which a cast of characters led by the young Lyra Belacqua battle adversity, will leave you utterly absorbed. The action begins in Oxford, England, when Lyra hears of a plot to murder her uncle, Lord Asriel. This sets off a series of events including kidnaps, rescue missions, and travel to other worlds inhabited by creatures and forces unknown to the human world. With underlying themes of physics and perhaps even atheism, there are layers far beyond the storyline to explore and question. Therefore, for a curious and imaginative mind, this is a must-read.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
In Scott Westerfeld’s future dystopian world, everyone is considered “Ugly” until on their sixteenth birthday they have extreme cosmetic surgery to become “Pretty” and cross the river to the other side of the city where they can live without stress and responsibility. But everything is not as perfect as it seems. When Tally Youngblood sneaks across the river before her sixteenth birthday and becomes embroiled in a stand against society’s plans for everyone to conform, she discovers that taking your own path can have dangerous and terrifying consequences. As the series continues, Tally sees life from both sides, but ultimately, who will she fight to protect? With plenty of themes that will be familiar to teenagers, including facing change and questioning the superficial expectations of society, this is a series to make you interrogate the status quo.
Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter
- I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
- Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
- Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover
- Only the Good Spy Young
- Out of Sight, Out of Time
- United We Spy
This bestselling series follows the lives of students at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. The academy is no ordinary school – students here train in martial arts and code-breaking and communicate in 14 different languages as they perfect their espionage skills. But what happens when they’re faced with normal teenage challenges, as well as more extreme missions along the way? Follow Cammie Morgan and her friends as they grapple with kidnap plots, security breaches, terrorist organisations…and teenage crushes, in this pacey and thrilling series.
The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper
- A Brief History of Montmaray
- The FitzOsbornes in Exile
- The FitzOsbornes at War
This trilogy follows the royal family of the fictional island kingdom of Montmaray through the late 1930s to the outbreak of World War II, as they are forced to abandon their home, endure sorrow, embrace love, and eventually, to dream of returning to their kingdom again. Similar to Dodie Smith’s classic novel, I Capture the Castle, the narrator is a young, penniless inhabitant of a crumbling castle, who tells the story from her perspective after she is given a journal on her sixteenth birthday. As a result, for those wanting a personal and touching fictional narrative, underpinned by deeper tensions building in the outside world, this is an excellent choice.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series Ann Brashares
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
- The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
- Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
- Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
- 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Gorws
- Sisterhood Everlasting
This touching series follows a group of high school friends, who decide to stay in touch by sharing a pair of jeans over the holiday, each wearing it as they experience a formative summer of travel, first love, and family upset. In the subsequent books, the girls are reunited with the jeans as they take on change and challenges, but always with their friends standing by to support them. For anyone looking for a book which celebrates the unbreakable bond of friendship, this is it.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Collection by Jenny Han
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
- P.S. I Still Love You
- Always and Forever Lara Jean
This series of bestsellers follows the story of Lara Jean, a high school student who is forced to confront her past crushes after the letters she wrote to them but never meant to send, are somehow taken from the secret box under her bed, and mailed out. Lara Jean faces up to past feelings and sees new ones blossom as she gets ever closer to the changes which high school graduation will bring. For a light, romantic read, this hits the mark.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
- The Princess Diaries
- Vol II: Princess in the Spotlight
- Princess in Love
- Princess in Waiting
- Project Princess
- Princess in Pink
- Princess in Training
- The Princess Present
- Sweet Sixteen Princess
- Valentine Princess
- Princess on the Brink
- Princess Mia
- Forever Princess
- Royal Wedding
The Princess Diaries follows the life of Mia Thermopolis, whose world is turned upside down when she discovers that she is the heir to the throne of the fictional country of Genovia. Beginning in her freshman year at high school, we follow the likeable and dorky Mia through her diary entries as she learns about her new role as a princess, overcomes family obstacles and falls in love. With multiple books in the series, it’s definitely one to keep you busy!
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