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“Comparing lead female characters in books (and their movie counterparts) v3”

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All three of these selections star a female lead who is embroiled in a dystopian country or world situation. Each gains insight about her surroundings and becomes a rebel. Their ordeals are flush with danger, romance, and violence. One is a stand-alone story while the others offer the beginnings of a longer tale. Each one has an eponymous movie as well.


The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins, 2008


Poverty-stricken citizens are tortured with the annual reaping of their children by the legal government. Those children are placed into impossible situations against their peers from the other districts, fighting for their right to live. Some have minor skills to help survive the environment or to hide from the hunters, but some have a bit more. Take Katniss for example – daughter of a coal miner and herbalist/healer, she can hunt effectively, trained through necessity and years of near starvation. Will she make it to the end of the 74th annual Hunger Games?

Personal extra:

I appreciated the way Collins describes Katniss through her thoughts and actions. She’s not a very likeable character – she’s rude, brusque, proud and yet avoids the rigors of leadership because she doesn’t want that responsibility. The movie version is played very well by Jennifer Lawrence, but reading the character from the original book is extremely satisfying, especially as her relationships with those around her transform (Gale, her mother and sister, Peeta, Haymitch, etc.). If you haven’t seen Battle Royale (2000), know that it is extremely bloody but worth a(n adult) watch for the comparisons between this Japanese movie based on the 1999 novel by Koushun Takami and the 2012 film version of The Hunger Games.


The Host

Stephenie Meyer, 2010


The invasion is already here – it’s done and the ‘souls’ have won. Humans are walking around pretending to be normal with other consciousnesses having moved into their brains. But every once in a while, the human is left trapped inside with the alien mind and they can converse. This is what happens to Melanie when Wanderer moves in to take over, not realizing initially that she’s not alone. How do you hide secrets from the mind you share inside your own body? How do you protect your family, some of the last free humans on the planet?

Personal extra:

If you are not a Meyer or Twilight fan, give this work a chance anyway. I loved it much more than the vampire and werewolf series. It speaks to teen girls of a mature nature (girls who have discovered first love) and involves some terrifying violence against women, but is suitable for higher teens. The duality of our twinned major characters is fascinating and makes me ask myself, ‘How would I react?’



Veronica Roth, 2011


Chicago is the barely-recognized setting of a five-faction social arrangement between those that carry certain personal traits like intelligence, honesty, bravery, amity, or selflessness. Trying to decide which one of these character traits is the guiding star for their own future is what every teen faces. Some choose their parents’ faction and remain with what is familiar… but when you long to know more, is there any other choice than to leave home and safety, headed for a completely new life? Once you get there and are told that the accepted few will be pitted against each other to determine who comes out on top, would you immediately flourish or wilt under the pressure? And are the factions really performing their tasks as expected by all the others, or is there an undercurrent of sedition or mutiny growing?

Personal extra:

Is age really just a number? Governments declare at what age a person is no longer a child and responsible for themselves, when they can drive, drink, vote, marry, etc. In this work, 16 is the age for a child to choose their adult path, even if that means failing and becoming one of the factionless. A kindness would have been to let every child take a two-week orientation course (or something similar) with every faction, hearing from the leaders and their same-aged peers about what really goes on in their corner of the city. Of course, we find out later that this place wasn’t designed for kindness. In hindsight, this story would have made me terrified of taking off for college (hazing, bullies, strict codes and expectations, the shame of washing out) has I seen it as a teen - yeesh.

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