5 young adult South African books that feature heroines you’ll love
Deadlands by Lily Herne
I’m actually quite sad that this book didn’t take off as much in South Africa as I’d hope, because this book (the first in a trilogy) is pretty kickass and features a rag tag group of teens who find themselves in a post-apocalyptic Cape Town, trying to survive in a city that’s overrun by and infested with zombies.
Infused with a sharp and biting wit, Deadlands is at once an action-packed novel featuring a diverse cast of characters (yay for no tokenism) and a cleverly satirical read filled with barbs that take aim at both the past and current political infrastructure of our country.
While the book itself features an array of characters, we start off by getting to know the jaded and feisty 17-year old Lele, who lives in the city enclave with her parents and younger brother. Sick of the zombie infestation, Lele soon finds herself recruited by a mysterious organisation whose intentions aren’t all that clear.
WATCH: Deadlands book trailer
The Mark by Edyth Bulbring
Another book that’s been getting a lot of rave reviews over the last couple of years is Edyth Bulbring’s dark and edgy dystopian novel, The Mark.
The novel chronicles what happens when the world is ravaged by an event known as The Conflagration. It’s a world in which 15-year old Juliet Seven finds herself living; one where she’s subjected to a system of rigid rules enforced by brutal rulers who decide the fate of others based on marks at the base of their spine.
If you’re looking for a book featuring a nice girl, you’re not going to find it here (In fact, most of these recs feature girls who buck conventions, so if you’re looking for nice little girls who play in their neat and tidy boxes, you might want to look for boring somewhere else).
However, if you want a book that features a young girl fighting back against a system who tries to dictate her destiny to her, using everything in her arsenal including her biting barbs and fighting-girl attitude? Then this book is right up your alley.
Check out one of our regular book reviewer and fellow SA author, Nerine Dorman’s review here:
Crooks and Straights by Masha du Toit
A feisty heroine who has to navigate a magical Cape Town landscape dominated by political upheaval and discrimination? Um, yes please.
Masha du Toit has created a world infused with magic – one that’s quickly becoming a war between those who have magical abilities and those who don’t. It’s a novel that combines unique African folklore and features an empowered heroine who uses her wits, courage and determination to fight against her system that threatens the lives of those closest to her.
Sidekick by Adeline Radloff
For fans of those who love superheroes, Sidekick features a heroine who will become the badass fictional bestie you never knew you needed. 17-year old Katie lives with her adoptive mother at home and plays sidekick to a superhero named Finn who has the ability to stop time.
Katie has the unique ability to move during these frozen moments, which naturally makes for a setup up for some really interesting situations. Sidekick is a book that’s packed with plenty of hilarious and punchy moments and you’ll adore – and a heroine you’ll root for all the way.
When the Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
SA author Cat Hellisen’s heroine Felicita is a heroine who walks away from her privilege and fakes her own death to avoid the entrapment of an arranged marriage.
Beautifully written and lushly detailed, When the Sea is Rising Red is a book that’s magical at its core, human at heart and a novel that explores the obvious disconnect between the haves and have nots.
It’s both a character study and a learning experience for our heroine, who is magical, prickly, stubborn and wilfully strong – and who has to quickly learn how to adapt and survive in the slums of Pelimburg.
Actually, you know what, just read my review – I’ve practically written a love letter to this novel (one that I could write time and time again to be honest)