One thing I hate about heroine’s in young adult fiction, is that when you first read them, they often come across as very…needy or pushy or cocky. It’s as though they feel the need to prove that the leading female character in a story doesn’t always have to be the ‘damsel in distress’ type which, don’t get me wrong, is great but they push the idea of a strong independent, female character to the point where she becomes impossible to relate to and often kind of preachy.
When I first read Lena, she instantly grabbed my attention due to her vulnerability. She wasn’t a revolutionary character who was breaking the mould of society and setting new boundaries, but rather, just an ordinary young woman who was subject to the same conventions and social norms as everyone else in her world, and had to be pushed into seeing the powers that be, for what they really are, and then making a stand against them.
I think my favourite moment with Lena is when she is at her Evaluation, and she is asked why she likes Romeo and Juliet, and rather than give the answer the Evaluators were expecting (something along the lines of, because it’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of love) she answers simply with, ‘It’s beautiful’. This is the first time the reader is shown the side of Lena that she wants, perhaps even subconsciously, to keep hidden from the world. It is the first time we think, yep, she’s going to defy this dystopian society. It is also the first time Lena says something that is just raw honesty.
The thing about Lena, is that she sees the world in a way that and artist, musician or poet might, she sees the light and dark of the world and thinks them equally beautiful. It just takes a chance meeting with a young boy named Alex to give her the confidence she needs to stand up for what she believes in. The way she grows so naturally throughout the book, rather than in a sudden implausible way, makes her extremely realistic and easy to relate to.
More character analysis’s coming soon! Stay tuned for the analysis on Hanna!
Until next time
I love you. Remember. They cannot take it.