Katniss Everdeen, also known as "the girl on fire." From the moment you meet Katniss, you know that she is not your normal heroine. Katniss lives in a world where you have to grow up fast in order to survive. For anyone not familiar with the world of The Hunger Games, Katniss lives in a dystopian world where the 12 districts of Panem are controlled by a central government known as The Capitol. Each year, two tributes (a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18) from each district are chosen to fight in the Hunger Games to the death. They are literally thrown into an arena with other kids their age and are expected to kill their peers in order to survive. The Hunger Games are the result of a failed uprising by the districts of Panem. With a world like this, one can understand why Katniss grew up as fast as she did.
Katniss is the sole provider for her family, which consists of her mother and sister Prim. The fact that Katniss gives up her childhood so that Prim can have one makes her an admirable heroine. Each and every day she risks her life by crossing the border to hunt for food for her family. When Prim is selected for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers herself without even batting an eyelash. It gives the reader a true glimpse of the kind of person Katniss is: caring, protective, strong, and brave.
Throughout the novels, Katniss continues to exemplify these qualities. She goes through the preparations for the Hunger Games with her head held high, never for one minute complaining or thinking "Why me?" So many other heroines spend most of the novel whining and complaining about their life and situation. Katniss never does any of this -- she accepts her fate and decides to make the best of it. She is far from the normal YA novel heroine.
Not only does Katniss take care of herself in the arena, she also takes care of Peeta (the other tribute from District 12) when he needs it. This shows how caring and giving Katniss truly is. Here she is, in a fight to the death, and instead of letting Peeta die she nurses him back to health and ultimately saves his life. Once again, Katniss is proving how strong and determined she truly is. Nobody else in the arena would have done this. In my opinion, if any other YA heroine were put in the arena, they would not survive it.
Later on, when Katniss's actions in the arena lead to a war, she is yet again thrown into a situation that she has no control over. She has somehow become a symbol for a war she never intended to start. She has become the Mockingjay. Nobody asked her if she wanted this role, and nobody really cared about her. They just cared about what she symbolized. If she wasn't a symbol of hope and rebellion, nobody would have given her a second thought. She is forced into this role, and performs it admirably. She doesn't run or try to skip out on her duties, she recognizes that what she is doing is for the greater good and accepts her task.
Katniss is the type of heroine girls should look up to. She possesses qualities rarely seen in a YA heroine by being intelligent, brave, strong, and pretty all at the same time. She doesn't wait for any boy to save her -- she saves herself. She shows girls that it is okay to be strong and that you should never weaken yourself, especially not for a boy, no matter how cute he may be. She also shows that it is okay for the girl to be the one doing the saving sometimes.
Overall, Katniss is one of the strongest heroines I have ever read. Her character has a lot of depth and is one that should be admired. Suzanne Collins created a character that broke all the rules concerning heroines and in doing so gave us one of the best in existence.