Action Heroes and Heroines in YA Literature

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Article in Young Adult Fiction, Adventure, and Thrillers categories.

Take that, James Bond!

Detectives & Crimes-Solvers

Like her idol Sherlock Holmes, eighth grader Ingrid Levin-Hill uses her intellect to solve a murder case in her home town of Echo Falls.
  • Body Bags (A Body of Evidence Thriller) by Christopher Golden
As Jenna starts her new job at the medical examiner's office, she is drawn into a web of terrifying disease, dangerous politics, and intriguing mystery. And when one of her professors ends up dead, she starts making connections even the police haven't seen...connections which will bring her face to face with a pair of killers: one medical, and one all too human.
After his older brother, a fledgling private detective, agrees to safeguard a package for a dwarf who does not live long, thirteen-year-old Nick scampers to solve the mystery while also trying to stay one step ahead of an assortment of thugs.
When someone steals her purse and her identity, high-school junior and reluctant sleuth Lulu Dark investigates.
When several students at Baker High School are stricken by an alleged curse of the school's ghost, Elijah and Elisha Springfield and their parents, undercover investigators, are sent to uncover the truth behind the events.
  • Framed (Traces: Luke Harding, Forensic Investigator) by Malcolm Rose
Luke has barely had time to celebrate his achievement of being the youngest forensic investigator ever when Malc, his robotic sidekick, calls him to their first case of as student's murder.
  • Fake ID (Hunted #1) by Walter Sorrells
After a lifetime of moving and assuming new identities, sixteen-year-old Chass begins to piece together the disturbing past that haunts her and her mother and which involves a mysterious tape, a deceased popular singer, and the secrets of several people in a small Alabama town.

Epic Questers

While escaping from the strange men that are after him in London, Jimmy discovers he possesses many unusual talents for an eleven-year-old boy.
With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction -- Zeus' master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him.
Through a series of dangerous and violent misadventures, teenage loser Alfred Kropp rescues King Arthur's legendary sword Excalibur from the forces of evil.

Fighters & Martial Artists

Sole survivor of a plane crash, Heaven is adopted by a wealthy Japanese family and at nineteen is forced to marry the son of her father's business rival. On her wedding day she loses the person she loves most, learns that all she knows about her family is a lie, and that she is being hunted and must fight back or die.
Jess is dubbed Lightning Girl by the press when, after a huge storm, she develops a psychic ability to find missing children. But has she lost her miraculous powers? She would like everyone to think so. All she wants is to be left alone.
While attempting to solve the mystery of a stolen jewel, Seikei, a merchant's son who longs to be a samurai, joins a group of kabuki actors in eighteenth-century Japan.
During the Japanese occupation of parts of China, twelve-year-old Ye Xian is thrown out of her father's and stepmother's home, joins a martial arts group, and tries to help her aunt and the Americans in their struggle against the Japanese invaders.
  • Tiger (Five Ancestors #1) by Jeff Stone
Five young warrior-monk brothers survive an insurrection and must use the ancient arts to avenge their Grandmaster.

Spies & Secret Agents

As students at a special high school that trains them to be secret agents, six teenagers struggle to complete the training exercises as a team before being sent into the field to swink or swim.
  • Silverfin (Young Bond #1) by Charles Higson
This prequel to the adventures of James Bond, 007, introduces us to the young James when he's just started boarding school in England and is about to become involved in his first adventure.
  • Stormbreaker (Alex Rider Adventures #1) by Anthony Horowitz
After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is coerced to continue his uncle's dangerous work for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6. See other authors who write like this.
Beverly Hills teenager Rachel Buchanan gets in trouble with the law and winds up at mysterious Blackthorn Academy in Pennsylvania, where she uncovers secrets about the school and becomes entangled in a case of international espionage.