Who She Is:
Beatrice Prior, the protagonist of Veronica Roth's Divergent series, lives in a dystopian Chicago where society is divided into five factions. She was raised in the Abnegation, or selfless faction, but now she is faced with choosing a faction to pledge her loyalty for the rest of her life. The aptitude test meant to make the decision easier told Beatrice she's Divergent, able to fit into multiple factions. She must choose between Abnegation and Dauntless - but she must also hide her Divergence or risk her life. Choosing Dauntless will get her away from the Abnegation life she's never really fit into, but it would mean leaving her family behind.
After choosing Dauntless and renaming herself, Tris is instantly thrown into the grueling initiation of new faction members. Even as Tris fights for her place in the faction, she's also keeping her Divergence under wraps and uncovering a plot to kill Divergents and Abnegation alike.
Why She's Awesome:
I love Tris Prior. She's one of my favorite literary characters. Why, you ask?
Throughout the Divergent trilogy, Tris grows from a quiet Abnegation girl to a Dauntless soldier. From the moment Tris leaves her family behind so that she can lead the life she wants, she's independent. But she never loses her selflessness as she learns to be brave. Even as she embraces life in her new faction, Dauntless, she remembers her Abnegation roots and her family, shown in her choice of tattoos.
Tris' tattoos are very similar to Four's. While she has the ravens and symbols of her factions, he has all five faction symbols tattooed on his body. Tris' tattoos symbolize that she's both Abnegation and Dauntless, while Four's remind him to be brave as well as selfless, kind, smart, and honest. Both characters refuse to be put into the boxes their society has built (the factions) which is part of why they make a great match.
Unlike many YA heroines, Tris never loses her head to romance. She loves Tobias and does her best to keep him safe, as misguided as her actions sometimes are, but it never becomes the focus of the story. The romance is always a side aspect of the story, adding more to the plot which always focuses on the revolution and Tris' part in it.
One of the most relatable things about Tris is that she makes mistakes. Lots of them. She's as insecure as she is confident; while she knows she's strong and capable, she can't believe Four loves her (at first, anyway). She sets the bar too high for herself sometimes, taking it on her shoulders to save her friends' lives, and it doesn't always go well. But she learns. She changes, in one of the best examples of actual character development current YA has. When she sacrifices herself in the first two books, she does it to atone for her mistakes. In the third book, she does it to save her brother. (And I'm still angry about her death, so I'm not going to say any more on that).
Tris Prior is a great character because she never loses herself. Not to romance, not to her changing world, not even to her family. Every decision she makes, whether it's a mistake or not, is hers. She exhibits extraordinary strength and bravery, but she never becomes unrelatable or flat. This is what sets her apart from so many other YA heroines, and why she's not just a great leading lady, but a fantastic protagonist.
Ex Libris, Veritas
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As Simple as Snow