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Lessons learned from the heroes and heroines of young adult literature
Daniel Radcliffe from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." - photo by Hikari Loftus
The teen protagonists of young adult literature are awkward, average-looking, most often popular for being unpopular and highly emotional.

In short, they could be any average teen reading his or her story.

The only difference is that many possess magical powers, are assassins or the government's most wanted, in league (or in love) with some mythical being or just trying to save the world while dealing with a complicated romantic relationship.

With "Insurgent," the latest movie installment of a popular young adult franchise, opening in theaters Friday, here's a few of the YA genre's most popular heroes and heroines from the last decade.

Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)

Harry Potter: Despite being raised in the Muggle (human) world until he was 11 years old, The Boy Who Lived is a talented and powerful wizard from the outset. After being taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he excels quickly in magical defense and stands up for his friends and what he believes in. Though he is known to be irrational and impulsive when angry, often resulting in danger to himself and his friends, he still manages to save the day by being quick-thinking, extremely brave and willing to shoulder immense responsibilities. Though Harry has an army of good friends around him, it's Hermoine Granger and Ron Weasley who prove to be his greatest strength. Loyal and smart, Hermoine and Ron are the first at his side with support, backup and knowledge.

The Harry Potter series is suitable for ages 8 and above, although books 5-7 feature darker material that might be better suited for ages 12-adult. The seven books were adapted into eight films that appeared in theaters from 2001 to 2011.

Percy Jackson series, by Rick Riordan (2005-2014)

Perseus "Percy" Jackson: Until he is attacked by a Fury, Percy has no idea that he is the son of the Greek god of water and that he is a demigod. But it explains his love for water and his many amazing water-related abilities. Things like being able to breathe underwater, or command and be healed with water, are among the abilities afforded the son of Poseidon. But many demigods, including Percy, live with ADHD and dyslexia due to their godly instincts battling with their human side. While Percy can be hard to predict, readers can count on him to always be loyal to his friends. Loyalty, however, is also one of his greatest weaknesses. Percys best friend and protector, a satyr named Grover Underwood, and his eventual girlfriend, Annabeth Chase, are the ones who know Percy best, stick by his side and push him to become all that he can be.

The three Percy Jackson novels are appropriate for ages 8 and above. There have been two movie adaptations so far. "The Lightning Thief" was released in 2010, and "Sea of Monsters" was released in 2013.

The Mortal Instruments series, by Cassandra Clare (2007-2014)

Clarissa Clary Fray: Like Harry and Percy, Clary was raised in the Mundane (human) world, even though, unbeknownst to her, she belonged to another. Clary possesses unique and powerful gifts that she begins to learn about at one of the Shadowhunter Institutes in New York although it is disguised and hidden from Mundane eyes. Initially, she has no patience to first learn how to become a Shadowhunter or about the magical world around her before racing into dangerous situations she thinks she can handle. More often than not, Clary puts herself and others in danger. However, by the end of the series, Clary is a competent, smart fighter and can work with a team with bravery and ability fueled by her love for her friends and family. And where there is Clary, there is Jace Wayland and Simon Lewis. Jace is not only one of the most talented, powerful and handsome Shadowhunters, but also her boyfriend. Simon is her lifelong best friend and closest confidante. Both of them offer her ultimate forgiveness, unwavering love and support that propels her to become her best self.

The Mortal Instruments series is better suited for ages 15 and above. The film "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" was released in 2013 but fared poorly at the box office. A Mortal Instruments TV series, however, has been announced.

Vampire Academy series, by Richelle Mead (2007-2010)

Rosemarie Rose Hathaway: As Dhampir guard to her best friend, Lissa, a vampire princess, Rose is fiercely loyal and charismatic. She is dedicated to her training and refuses to let those who look down on her get the best of her. Rose is also reckless, a little vain and violent not to mention a smart aleck. She does not hesitate to use her feminine charms to get what she wants, although she is not promiscuous. As the series evolves, so does Rose. She becomes more protective and grounded and less reckless, eventually helping others see the strength in themselves. Rose is only alive because of the abilities Lissa, her lifelong friend, possesses. They defend and protect each other with close bonds that are only rivaled when Rose meets her soul mate, Dimitri. Dimitri begins as Rose's mentor, but their romantic relationship forces them to become better guards and selfless protectors.

Vampire Academy is best suited for ages 14 and above. "Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters" hit theaters in 2014 but was deemed a box-office failure. There are currently no plans for a sequel.

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins (2008-2010)

Katniss Everdeen: While Katniss is known for being surly, stubborn and generally unpleasant, the truth is she is doing all right for someone with almost no free will. Her top priority is self-preservation, which is hard when the government of Panem (post-apocalyptic North America) requires her to either kill or be killed. She later becomes the reluctant face of a rebellion. Despite always being used as a pawn, Katniss remains determined to be true to herself. Though she loves few, she loves them fiercely. She is extremely skilled with a bow and ultimately perseveres within the darkest of circumstances. While Peeta and Gale are romantic interests of Katniss, they are also her closest friends. Gale and Katniss are an effortless team, providing for and protecting each other's families. But when it comes to deadly stakes in a game Katniss is playing with the government, it's only Peeta's strength and charisma that can power Katniss through it.

The Hunger Games is appropriate for ages 12 and above, though readers should be aware of moderately described violence. The trilogy has so far been adapted into three movies that hit theaters between 2012 and 2014. The fourth and final movie installation arrives in November.

Divergent trilogy, by Veronica Roth (2011-2013)

Beatrice Tris Prior: Mostly characterized for her unwillingness to show weakness, Tris is also stubborn, determined and exceptionally brave in the face of danger. Though her intentions are fueled by love for her friends and family, Tris is self-sacrificing to a fault and the outcome of her behavior is generally frustrating and ultimately disastrous. Tris grows up in post-apocalyptic Chicago, which has been divided into five factions each representing one dominant or valued virtue. While being "Divergent" allows Tris to emulate traits from multiple factions instead of just one, she particularly emulates the Dauntless faction's motto of performing ordinary acts of bravery and having courage to stand up for another. As it is considered dangerous to possess more than one faction's virtue, being a known Divergent makes Tris one of the government's most wanted. Tris and her mentor-turned-boyfriend, Four, spend the entire trilogy saving each other. If there is anyone who can ground Tris, it's Four. These two are equals and an excellent team when Tris isn't in self-sacrifice mode.

The Divergent series is suitable for readers ages 12 and above. The first film adaptation, "Divergent," was released in 2014, and "Insurgent" opens Friday, March 20. The third and final book, "Allegiant," is expected to be split into two films for release in 2016 and 2017.

Legend trilogy, by Marie Lu (2011-2013)

June Iparis and Daniel Day Wing: Both main protagonists with superior fighting and military-style talents (think 15-year-old Jason Bournes), June and Daniel are exceptionally smart and lethal with a high moral code. Many of their strengths are also their weaknesses. The love they have for their family, the love they develop for each other and their opposite society upbringing fuel their motivations and bravery, but are also used by their enemies for leverage against them. Initially opposed to each other, the two combine forces to save the home they love Republic, which is located in the post-apocalyptic Western United States. Ultimately, they are a superior, balanced team.

The Legend trilogy is appropriate for ages 12 and above. Author Marie Lu said a screenplay is being worked on, according to MTV.

Throne of Glass series, by Sarah J. Maas (2012-expected finish in 2017)

Celaena Sardothien: After the murder of her parents, Celaena is taken in by a group of assassins and trained to be one of them. Living in the kingdom of Adarlan, she breaks the typical YA mold of strong, tough women who despise glam and frill. She's a deadly assassin who acknowledges her love of boys and expensive, beautiful clothes. A woman of many passions, Celaena is unpredictable when angry and not afraid to spill blood. But she's also good, kind-hearted and saves many lives. Celaena's story is unfolding, so readers are still wondering if she will keep Chaol Westfall and the prince, Dorian Havilliard, as close friends or make one of them more.

Throne of Glass may be best suited for ages 14 and above. There are no known plans for Throne of Glass to be adapted into a movie.
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