So badass ladies come in many different forms. Be they knife-wielders, fantastical mages, or bloody geniuses.
Let’s focus on the geniuses: these ladies can kick your ass with their brains. If they weren’t on your side, you’d piss your pants. You can’t help but root for them, and you know that they can get you out of dicey situations.
Below, we’ve gone beyond the tried and true Nancy Drew (who deserves her own list) to give you some of the best leading ladies who happen to also be blow your mind brilliant, in no particular order.
By Roald Dahl
Who else would be on here but everyone’s darling little girl genius? After all, she’s so smart that when she isn’t challenged, she has the ability to move things with her mind. All of her excess intelligence TURNED INTO MAGIC. And when she is challenged, she reads at like a college level. In first grade.
Plus, she loves books, and you know how we at Bibliobibuli feel about that!
By Stieg Larsson
Lisbeth has a photographic memory, an amazing ability with computers, and a passion for protecting women who can’t fight back. Unfortunately, she’s had a horrific life filled with bullies and arseholes of all descriptions. She’s Matilda, if Honey hadn’t adopted her and they hadn’t lived happily ever after. But we love her anyways, because she’s also a total badass and hates men who hate women.
By Marie Rutkoski
Not many people could end up in a position of strength after being taken captive. But that’s why we love Kestrel. She has political wiles and book smarts combined with a crazy ability to plan out battles. If you think you’re ahead of her, you’re dead wrong–even if you are this super-cute, super-smart dude who desperately wants her to stop fighting you. She won’t.
Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius Series
By Kaja and Phil Foglio
Let’s hear it all for crazy geniuses and mad scientists! Agatha is all about the science, and won’t even look at a boy unless he’s handing her tools, or participating in her hideous experiments. Unfortunately she’s also been thrust into the cutthroat world of imperial politics, because her ancestors were crazy geniuses/mad scientists who handily managed to conquer most of the continent of Europe…but guess what? She’s found her ancestors are right: if you build enough robots, you can solve almost anything.
By Marissa Meyer
Cinder is really very handy at building robots and doing mechanical things, which helps since she’s got some mechanical parts herself–the correct term is cyborg, and she’s fairly self-conscious about it. But that’s not all she can do, she’s bright enough to know the best way to use her mechanical gifts, and also how to use those really creepy powers that she suddenly ends up with.
Elisa, Fire and Thorns Series
By Rae Carson
Elisa is noteworthy not just for being a proudly plus-size heroine (although boy, do we love her for it), but for being politically savvy to boot. She handles a large nation, some very touchy fellow queens and a super-antagonistic neighbor with grace and aplomb, and also knows when to go charging off on her own adventures because no one else can do it better–and when she does, she awesomely saves her boyfriend and the world in one fell swoop.
By Mary E. Pearson
Although she’s not the most politically clever princess in the world at the beginning of the book (quite the opposite), she learns quickly when she has to (AKA when her actions have almost caused a civil war). She has enough smarts to work out how to take best advantage of her enemies, plus a few secrets that have been hidden under everyone’s nose for centuries. She is also very gifted with languages and is able to use this to her advantage.
Marla Wolfblade, Hythrun Chronicles
By Jennifer Fallon
The words ‘politically savvy’ don’t apply to Marla Wolfblade as much as the words ‘politically awesome’ do. The dumb blonde little sister of a dumb blond king, she learns very, VERY quickly how to play the political game when she is suddenly the mother of the heir in a country on the brink of civil war. She manipulates, coerces and seduces anyone she needs to in order to put her little boy on the throne. In other words, she’s a valuable lesson to never underestimate a blonde.
By RC Lewis
Essie prefers connecting circuits to being a princess and surrounding herself with the drones she has modified to being around people. She has carved out a place for herself on the mining planet, Thanda, she now calls home by turning her community into the safest mine via her ingenious programing. She continues to use her smarts throughout the book, from sabotaging her kidnapper’s ship to saving her planet and its people.
Juliet, The Madman’s Daughter Series
By Megan Shepherd
Juliet has a lot to deal with, from her crazed-scientist father (hence the title) to the two guys she stuck on that island with, one that she has known her whole life, the other who she meets under mysterious circumstances. Juliet worries throughout the series that she has inherited her father’s madness and some of the more gruesome thoughts that she has certainly could support that idea. Her understanding of anatomy leads to some interesting scenes throughout the series where Juliet definately channels some of the mad scientists from classic literature–in scary and awesome ways.
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Disclaimer: The cover pictures were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. None belong to us.