Imagine being a teenager, facing life and death situations and only having hours before you have to make fateful decisions.  In  In the After by Demitria Lunetta, the main character, Amy, watches an apocalypse with her own eyes.  It happened so suddenly that anyone who was outside immediately died including both of her parents.  Amy had to decide whether she wanted to live and fight or succumb to the devastation.  Similarly,  in Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy,  teenager, Chase Harcourt, is selected to United Star Academy in hopes of becoming a Streaker pilot.  A Streaker pilot learns to fly a prototype jet intended to fight the Chinese in a cold war.  Chase can choose to save her country or watch it be destroyed.   Both heroines find inner strengths they did not know they possessed, through their true grit and determination to survive.   

Both characters in each story demonstrate a tremendous amount of strength.  Even though the odds are against them, and they go through major setbacks, their willingness to survive is prevalent throughout both stories.  Amy stays hidden for a while, scavenging for food and a place to safely live.  It takes her some time to get past her losses, but she realizes that she only has so much time until she runs out of resources.  She decides that leaving home, where all of her memories were made, is her only way to survive.  For Chase, she might not be in the same circumstances as Amy, but she has the weight of the United States on her shoulders.  Chase is selfish, cocky and believed to be the most talented, daring, and qualified person to test the new Streaker jets that the United States plans to use in presumed war against China.  But as talented as she is, Chase finally grasps that she needs to build trust in others and they in her.  Each heroine displayed immense fortitude to tackle the seeming impossible.


When you think of your teenage years, you would envision someone who is trying to find their place in the world.  Someone who is thinking about their future:  where they  want to go to college, what career do they want to pursue.  But in the minds of these two characters,  Amy and Chase don’t have time to think about their road ahead.  They can only think in the present.  Not many teenagers would be able to walk in the shoes that these girls are now wearing.  They are being required to function as adults.  Amy in a matter of seconds, and Chase in a very short time.  Before the apocalypse Amy’s every need and want had been provided. Then suddenly, her whole world was taken from her as if it never existed.  Her support system was totally destroyed in seconds.  She has to learn to fend for herself and a child that she found and felt morally obligated to save. Chase in contrast, does not have to fend for herself and she continues to have her support system.  However, Chase offends people in how she presents herself without even realizing it.  Chase needs to quickly develop a relationship, a comradery, with another pilot who is called upon to work with her.  In order to achieve success in protecting her heavily militarily disadvantaged country in an impending war, Chase and the other pilots must work together.   These situations make the teenagers grow up.  Not many teenagers could handle the pressures these characters


Demitria Lunetta’s Amy was a more believable character than Cori McCarthy’s Chase.  Amy was more mature than Chase because she contemplated her fate.  Amy was realistically scared.  She seemed more like a typical teenager.  Chase on the other hand was implausibly immature to be a fighter pilot and in the circumstances she faced.  Amy could be compared to seventeen year old Malala Yousafzai, human rights and education activist who won the 2014 Nobel Prize.  In the After was a more enjoyable read.    What do you think makes a great heroine?   Is it overcoming adversity?    Is it winning a competition?  Is it earning the respect of skeptics?  Is it putting others first?          



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