In the world of high school, no clique is more feared or glamorized than the Mean Girls. Sometimes they’re beautiful and intimidating, other times they’re downright nasty, and they don’t just exist in the real world. They’ve taken over YA lit, too, where we can safely observe them from a distance, without the risk of our gym clothes ending up in the toilet. The ladies on this list vary, as do Mean Girls in real life, from ultra-glamorous to conniving to downright sociopathic. There’s even a vampire on the list, because who’s a better Mean Girl than a vampire? And while we can’t condone their antics, we do get a bit of a guilty rush reading about them. Here are some of our fictional favorites.
Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl series, by Cecily von Ziegesar)
Blair Waldorf is a petite, well-dressed monster. Mean Girls in YA come and go, but Blair is OG, the Regina George of the YA universe. She strikes fear into the hearts of her classmates, her best friends, and even her boyfriend, and in a weird way I admire that. And she does it all in ridiculously overpriced heels, which I admire even more.
Massie Block (The Clique series, by Lisi Harrison)
A younger, inferior Blair. While I was kind of in awe of Blair’s obsessive scheming, Massie was just privileged, bitchy, and (as she would say) ahhh-noying. Plus, how mean was she to Clair and the rest of the Pretty Committee, her so-called best friends? Blair might have been a borderline sociopath at times, but at least there was something kind of classy about her. Sorry Massie, but I’m putting you in the “Out” column.
Mimi Force (Blue Bloods series, by Melissa de la Cruz)
A gorgeous vampire/former minion of Satan hellbent on destroying the girl who comes between her and her lover, Mimi was definitely a force to be reckoned with. Nothing says “mean girl” like “I almost helped Satan win a rebellion in Heaven.” Yeah, she was cruel and almost kills Schuyler, but there’s still something so cool about her. She really works that “Angel of Death” thing.
Beth Cassidy (Dare Me, by Megan Abbott)
Admittedly, it initially sounds kind of clichéd to cast a cheerleader as a Mean Girl, even if her targets are her fellow cheerleaders. But this noir thriller pits this manipulative head cheerleader in a psychological war with her coach and the rest of her squad. She’s a total Heather.
Yaqui Delgado (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina)
The title kind of says it all. Poor Piddy is just trying to adjust to a new school, and along comes Yaqui, who decides to make her life a living hell for no real reason. While a lot of the ladies on this list are more comfortable fighting with insults, Yaqui is physically abusive, preferring to use her fists to straighten Piddy out. Not someone I would want to mess with.
The Cabinet (Laurinda, by Alice Pung)
Amber, Chelsea, and Brodie hold so much power at private school Laurinda that even most of the teachers don’t dare question their actions…even if they include tormenting their fellow classmates. Lucy, our protagonist, is forced to deal with the racist attitudes of these three extremely privileged white girls as they attempt to make her their charity case.
Sam (Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver)
Sam might be the book’s protagonist, but even those rooting for her have to admit that she’s kind of a bitch. She’s self-absorbed, spoiled, and nasty—but that’s the whole point! Growing and changing is the only way she can save herself, and it’s awesome watching a Mean Girl right her wrongs.
Bounce (The Children and the Wolves, by Adam Rapp)
There are Mean Girls, there are crazy Mean Girls, and then there’s Bounce. A manipulator and stone-cold sociopath, she orchestrates the kidnapping of a young girl as part of a revenge plot against a visiting poet who dares challenge her. She’s a step beyond the other girls on this list, which is pretty impressive considering there’s a member of the undead among its ranks.