Listen, there is a Mulan inside all of us. She’s that part of you that will always make it to the appointment—even if it means charging through half-decimated streets on your horse with straw in your hair. She’s the part of you that takes a lightning strike of inspiration and turns it into something amazing, like the take-down of an entire army with a single cannon and some snow. And, of course, she’s the part of you that hugs the emperor because, why not?
And obviously, your Inner Mulan deserves books. She deserves books about dastardly plots (because she’s probably desperate to see how she would solve them). She deserves books about magic and creatures and books where the two entwine, (to know she’s not the only one who has to deal with a loudmouth of a dragon for a spirit guide). She deserves books about home (because sometimes she misses it, maybe more than she’s willing to admit).
But most of all, she deserves books about people who are like her, too: rogue runaways who are brave, talented, and who don’t always fit in—sometimes not even in the skin they were born in. So, let’s give them to her!
Here are five books to satisfy your Inner Mulan:
A saga about a spitfire (literally) sorceress fighting tyrannical forces to bring peace and freedom to her people is exactly what Mulan is all about! Like Mulan, Ruby refuses to accept the status quo just because everyone says it’s so. This is a fantastical story about fighting for yourself, and for what’s right, despite an overwhelming number of odds. Sounds familiar, right? Let your Inner Mulan lose herself in this magical struggle of epic proportions.
Speaking of magic, Genie Lo’s hilarious and heartfelt journey as she accepts her destiny to save the world from evil (while not letting her 4.0 GPA slip, obviously) is exactly the kind of thing your Inner Mulan would love to snuggle up and laugh out loud with, because she knows what it means to fight evil demons and deal with cultural expectations at the same time. A cute, light-hearted, witty, and meaningful story about recognizing who you are and finding a way to fit in, all at once.
Evie and Mulan would be best friends. No, seriously. *Best* friends. They both know what it feels like to leave a place they don’t belong to. They get how painful it is to actually come into your own, one way or another. Evie, like Mulan, is a rogue—even for 1920s New York. And just like Mulan, she’s full of life and open to new experiences—like, say, catching a crazy serial killer terrorizing New York City. Equal parts horror and turn-of-the-century wit, with an incredibly compelling cast of characters, this battleground may look different from the mountains of China, but it feels just as razor-sharp and unforgettable.
If there’s one thing Mulan absolutely loves to do, it’s beat impossible odds. And nothing gets more impossible than a terrifying post-World War II world where Hitler and the Axis powers won. Concentration camps still function, and a young Jewish girl—a survivor of terrible experiments at a camp—must enter a cross-country motorcycle tour disguised as a German to assassinate the now all-powerful Führer. And really, all I can say to that is, RIGHT?! Who wouldn’t love a story that starts that way!! Your Inner Mulan would be glued to the couch, feverishly turning pages and asking herself, how would she make it in a world where the fascists actually won?
Granted, I haven’t read this one yet, because (woe is me!) it doesn’t publish until March 2018. However, I absolutely must inform you that I (along with many others), are practically salivating at what it promises. Just like the Frostblood series, it centers around a captivating narrator, Zélie Adebola, whose blood is steeped in beautiful, eerie magic. But a tyrannical monarchy has deemed Zélie to be wrong, unworthy, and worse. And just like Mulan, Ruby, Yael, Genie, and Evie, Zélie not going to take it lying down, igniting the ever-important struggle between oppressors and oppressed.
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Sharanya Sharma is a former teacher from Washington D.C. who lives, breathes, and devours young adult literature. Currently, she is a Book Riot contributor, and is working towards earning a graduate degree in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. When she isn’t hopelessly lost in a book or her writing, you can find her tweeting @srsharms.