As a hardcore fan of young adult novels, I’m pretty well versed in my YA heroines. But the other day I was talking to a friend about the new Insurgent movie coming out this week, and how I can’t wait to see it.

“Wait, isn’t that the one with the deadly games?” he asked. “That’s The Hunger Games,” I answered. “Oh, so this is the one with the maze?” “No,” I told him, “you’re thinking of the Maze Runner.” “Then what about that one where the girl has cancer?” This is about where I gave up on the conversation.

I get it. There are a lot of YA books out there, and lately tons of them are getting made into movies. And, yes, some of them might even seem a bit similar:


So if you’re getting lost in the sea of teen protagonists, here’s a handy guide to help you figure out just who’s-who in the YA action world:

Beatrice “Tris” Prior, from Veronica Roth’s Divergent

Look: Thanks to Shailene Woodley’s short haircut, Tris is looking more chic than ever in the new Insurgent movie. In the book she’s described as being short and slight, with pale blonde hair. Plus we can’t forget those raven tattoos on her collarbone.

Personality: Tris is proud and hates to show weakness—which becomes difficult when she chooses to join the Dauntless faction and is thrust into the kind of physical and mental training she’s completely unprepared for.

Love Life: The dreamy Four. He might start out as her trainer, but that only ignites the sparks between them.

What Makes Her Stand Out: Well, she is a Divergent, which is very rare in their world. It gives her the ability to think, fight, be rational, caring and compassionate all at once. It also paints a target on her back.

Katniss Everdeen, from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games

Look: Dark hair in a side braid, strong features, a bow and arrow strapped to her back. Is there anyone who can’t recognize Katniss by this point?

Personality: When your life sucks as much as Katniss’s, it’s hard to look at the bright side of things. Still, she’s courageous, strong, and more emotional then she might seem on the surface.

Love Life: Peeta, Gale, Gale, Peeta. Will she choose the baker’s son she’s faced horrors with, or the hottie childhood friend who kept her family safe while she was fighting in the Games?

What Makes Her Stand Out: Probably all the murder. And instigating a rebellion. She is the Mockingjay, after all.

Clarissa “Clary” Fray, from Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones

Look: Petite with red hair. More comfortable in jeans than dresses. Always carrying something to draw with.

Personality: Artistic, brave, and loyal. She’ll follow her friends anywhere—from the fae world to demon dimensions.

Love Life: One word: Jace. Sure, her best friend Simon might seem like a contender, but he’s really only a stand-in after Clary learns a pretty upsetting secret that threatens her connection with her hot, witty bad-boy.

What Makes Her Stand Out: Clary finds out she’s a Shadowhunter, tasked with killing the demons and monsters that threaten our world. But there are more than a few secrets in her life that make her special. Let’s just say that her drawing ability isn’t quite what it seems.

Lucinda “Luce” Price, from Lauren Kate’s Fallen (the film comes out in 2015!)

Look: Pale skin and hazel eyes. Black hair, cut short after a fire (which she may have mysteriously started).

Personality: Luce starts out depressed and sullen, and for good reason—she sees moving shadows, and she accidently killed the first guy she ever kissed. But she’s also a hopeless romantic, as we quickly see after she meets Daniel for the first time.

Love Life: There’s a brief stab at a love triangle with the dark angel Cam, but it doesn’t really stick. It’s clear that Daniel and Luce are true soulmates; their love spans centuries, and hundreds of past lives.

What Makes Her Stand Out: After being accused of killing her friend, she’s sent to a strange boarding school where she meets a bunch of—even stranger—teen delinquents. Turns out they’re all fallen angels and Luce is connected to them in ways she couldn’t have imagined. The secret to her identity is pretty huge and don’t expect to fully encounter it until the final pages of the third book (or movie). But by the end of book one, it’s clear that she’s been reincarnated over and over—with each version of herself tragically dying at age 17—and guess how old Luce is?