These books follow protagonists as they fend off the bad guys, fight for what’s right, and then unnervingly discover that they’ve somehow fallen in love along the way. Perfect for readers who enjoy strong-willed characters full of vigor and enthusiasm, and for romantic sub plots that are plausible, but don’t take over the whole story.
Rebel of the Sands*
by Alwyn Hamilton
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
The Assassin’s Curse
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
All Ananna wants is to captain her own ship along the southern coast, but her family has other ideas for her future. She abandons her family’s ship when they try to set up marriage between her and an arrogant son of another pirate clan. Scorned and hungry for vengeance, the other clan sends an assassin after her. After a pursuit, Ananna and the assassin come face-to-face one night, and while Ananna is armed with some magic, she isn’t entirely sure how to use it. In her desperation to save herself, she activates a curse binding her assassin to her as a protector instead. Neither is happy with this turn of events and set off to find a wizard who might know how to undo the spell. Learning to live and survive together is only the beginning.
by Kristin Cashore
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away.
What kinds of adventurous YA reads have you enjoyed so far? They don’t have to be romance, either.