Villains are always one of the best part of a novel; they’re push that sends our protagonist over the edge. This list is dedicated to the villains who confound you, who terrify you, and who startle you with their brilliance or brutality.
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Cinder is a cyborg from New Beijing who ends up caught in an intergalactic war between the Lunar people and her own country. Based on the fairy tale Cinderella with a sci-fi twist, Cinder is thrust straight into politics, magic, and her own strange past.
Graceling (Seven Kingdoms #1) by Kristin Cashore
In a world where some children are born with an extreme skill, dubbed a Grace, Katsa is burdened with the responsibility and power of a Grace to kill. She lives under the command of her uncle, King Randa, who uses her as a thug to punish those under his thumb. Running a secret council in the underground of the castle with her cousin Raffin and companions Oll and Giddeon, Katsa meets a prince named Po who will pull her into a journey that spans nations and a frightening secret that might kill them all.
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness
In Prentisstown, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts in an overwhelming stream of Noise. Todd and his dog Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in this town of impossible privacy, something terrible is hidden. They just may have to run for their lives.
The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray
It’s 1926 and New York is filled with speakeasies, liquor, and Ziegfeld girls. Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring town to these bustling streets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will in his creepy occult museum. Evie worries he’ll discovers her darkest secret with his endless curiosity; a power that has only brought her trouble so far. But then a string of murders are branded with a cryptic symbol, Will is called onto the scene. And the more Evie digs into the story, the more she realizes their power is just what they need.
Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). However, when Beatrice leaves her world of the selfless behind to join Dauntless, she sheds her name and becomes Tris. However, Tris has her own handful of secrets that theaten to not only destroy her but the very foundation on which her society has been built.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (The Girl of Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson
Elisa has always been called the chosen one, destined for greatness. However she is the sibling of an older sister infinitely more prepared and shipped off to marry a king whose country is in turmoil. He needs her and he’s not the only one; a rebel faction is growing, increasing in strength by the day, and the thing they need most might just be her.
Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #1) by Bethany Griffin
A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them. So what does Araby Worth have to live for? Nights in the Debauchery Club and a way to forget it all. But in her search for oblivion she finds more than she bargained for…and maybe even something and someone to fight for.
Eon (Eona #1) by Allison Goodman
Eon has been studying dragon magic for years, all in preparation to apply for an apprenticeship to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. The problem is, Eon is actually Eona, a sixteen year old girl who could be killed for attempting to form a link with a dragon on account of the fact she’s female. After succeeding in gaining a dragon, Eon is catapulted into the Imperial Court where enemies are lurking and it becomes harder and harder to keep secrets hidden.
Shadow & Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
The Shadow Fold is made of impenetrable darker, full of monsters that feast on human flesh and torment the country of Ravka. Alina is a foot soldier and an average one at that, not particularly skilled in any one thing. However, a trip through the fold reveals her to be a Grisha, an gifted magic user of the imperial army, and can produce light from her hands at will. She is thrust into the world of the Grisha, lavish and elite, while honing her skills in hopes of being used to help her kingdom. But when the Grisha have a more sinister plan in mind, how will Alina balance her duty and the one place she’s ever felt she belonged?