Dystopian character deconstruct – Eve, Penryn, and June

So, as I’ve mentioned before, dystopian themes seem to be the YA theme-du-jour. I’m not complaining, because the stories I’ve read have been thrilling and romantic. The only thing is, the subject matter is really, really dark, and I’ve had to supplement with some mindless romance novels when I need a breather. 🙂

Three dystopian YA novels that I just finished are Angelfall (Susan Ee), Legend (Marie Lu), and Eve (Anna Carey). The first two books have only  the first installment released, but I have also read Once, the second in the Eve trilogy. First let me say that I enjoyed all of these books.

However, the main girl character in each of these stories is so very different. I think that’s a great thing, and I was wondering what type of role model each one presented for the book’s readers.

Penryn – This girl is totally cool. Seventeen-year-old Penryn can defend herself and will do anything to rescue her sister. She has a complicated relationship with her mother (don’t we all) and isn’t head-over-heels crazy about the hero at the beginning, all things that make me love her more. To be honest, she may be my all-time favorite heroine in YA dystopian books. She has the toughness of a Katniss Everdeen, but also a compassion I never felt from the Hunger Games gal.

Eve – I’m really intrigued by Eve. She does brave things every once in a while, but so many of her actions seem selfish, and they often cost lives. However, this  aspect of her character makes her seem pretty realistic–she’s a teenager trying to figure out her place in a very, very crazy world. I hate to say that as much as I’d want to act like Penryn in a post-apocalyptic state, I’m probably more of an Eve. If you’ve ever read true stories of survival, you’ll notice the similarities to Eve’s tale.

June – I guess my only issue with Legend’s heroine is that she’s so mature for her age. Then again, she’s living in a very different world, so maybe that’s it. She’s definitely harsher than the other two girls, evidenced by her ability to watch others be tortured, but I have a soft spot for this kid too. It’s just, she’s so intelligent and way to tough for me to emulate;-)

Anyway, I’m pretty happy to recommend these books, and I will do so in my next teen writing workshops. The dystopian theme certainly gives the author a chance to challenge teenagers to think outside their own world. I’d be interested to know if these authors based their dystopian worlds on any current or past regimes.

Until next time, read on!


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