Divergent, which opened this weekend, introduces yet another gutsy heroine. Mini Anthikad-Chhibber takes a look at this increasingly popular young adult fiction staple

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the standard tropes in a quest story would be a young man of mysterious parentage on the brink of adulthood going on a journey to find himself. He would be helped on his quest by a wise wizard. So Luke Skywalker (Star Wars) had Yoda, Frodo (Lord of the Rings) had Gandalf and Harry (Potter) had Dumbledore. Over the past few years, there has been a shift in young adult fiction with the protagonist invariably being a young woman on the threshold of womanhood. This works well for Hollywood as there is the glamour quotient along with the mind-blowing action — awesome stunts in high heels. While the young men of yore were practically asexual — Luke and Frodo didn’t hook up with anyone, the young women be it Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) or Bella Swan (Twilight) apart from saving the world also have to figure out which of the hot hunks is their soul mate. Here are five lovely ladies who have captured our imagination in print and on screen.

Katniss Everdeen

The Hunger Games

Based on Suzanne Collins trilogy, Katniss Everdeen is the protagonist of The Hunger Games. Set in a dystopian world where children fight each other to death in a televised reality show, 16-year-old Katniss takes the place of her younger sister, Prim, in The Hunger Games. She is partnered with Peeta, the baker’s son from her district. Peeta shows Katniss a kindness when they were younger, while Katniss shares more in common with Gale. Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence makes for a striking Katniss, while Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as Gale provide eye candy. With Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) doing the Katniss’ styling, the movies have some super cool clothes. While the first movie (2012) was awesome, the sequel, Catching Fire, last year wasn’t all that hot. Here is hoping the third part, Mockin Jay, makes up for the disappointment.

Bella Swan

The Twilight Saga

Bella Swan is the heroine of Stephanie Meyer’s cross species love story, The Twilight Saga. When 17-year-old Bella joins a new school, she doesn’t bargain for the fact the hottest boy in school is a 100-year-old vampire, Edward Cullen. Love obviously knows no reason and the movies like the books follow Bella’s love story as she figures out the only way to be with Edward is by turning into a vampire herself. Matters are complicated when Bella’s friend, Jacob Black, turns out to be a werewolf. The five movies (2008 to 2012) based on the books were overshadowed by truly terrible acting from the leads Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Stewart and Pattinson’s off-screen shenanigans. Bella is an interesting creation because unlike her Victorian counterparts who swooned and bared their necks to Count Dracula, she is proactive and willing to become a vampire to be with her love.

Clary Fray

The Mortal Instruments

Clary is 15 years old when she realises she is a demon hunter, like her mum and her world is filled with vampires, werewolves and others. Based on the first book of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones, the 2013 film directed by Harold Zwart, has Lily Collins playing Clary. The two men in her life — geeky and caring Simon (Robert Sheehan) and biker dude Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) — lend some tension to the proceedings. There is the mandatory makeover scene where Clary goes from safe to sexy dresser. Overall the film didn’t have the quirkiness of the book and felt rather dull and derivative.

Lyra Belacqua

The Golden Compass

Lyra is the heroine of The Golden Compass (2007) directed by Chris Weitz. The film is based on Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights, the first novel in the his Dark Materials trilogy. Though the film boasted an impressive star cast including Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Christopher Lee and Nicole Kidman with Dakota Blue Richards playing Lyra, it didn’t do too well. While it was a visual treat, it played safe and didn’t explore the book’s complex themes. The books create a fascinating graph of Lyra, on the cusp of puberty discovering love and loss, terror and bravery, danger and safety. The sequel to Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, introduces 12-year-old Will, who lives in another world but helps in Lyra’s quest. The relatively disappointing showing of The Golden Compass put paid to sequel plans. More is the pity.

Tris Prior

Divergent

Tris is also 16 when she discovers she is Divergent in Veronica Roth’s bestselling series. Set in a postapocalyptic Chicago where people are divided into factions depending on their character, Tris discovers feelings for the mysteriously named Four, an instructor in the auntless faction. Divergent, directed by Neil Burger, as Shailene Woodley playing Tris and Theo James as our. Kate Winslet plays the antagonist in the film. The stunts are worthy of a dystopian Lara Croft. Will Tris join the action heroine sorority? Only time will tell.