Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Awesome Ladies: Risa Ward and Hester Shaw

I make no secret of the fact that I think “Unwind” and “The Mortal Engines” are two of my favorite books ever. Neal Shusterman and Philip Reeve are two very different authors, but they have one thing especially in common: they write awesome lady characters. And today, I’m gonna celebrate them here with you.
Risa Ward is one of the three protagonists in “Unwind” – a dystopian tale, showing a future where abortion is forbidden, but where parents can choose to have their childrens’ organs harvested. Risa is a ward of the state – abandoned by her birth parents, she has to constantly prove herself worthy of the cares she receives. However, even that’s not enough, and when the director of her home signs her unwind order, she has to run for her life.
Hester Shaw lives in a post-Apocalyptic, City-eats-City word. When she was little, an archeologist murdered both her parents and tried to kill her so that he could steal a discovery as his own. Hester, who survived, but was severely disfigured, starts hunting him as soon as she’s well. Her pursuit takes her to the great city of London, where she runs into Tom, an idealistic and naïve apprentice historian.
Both women end up in horrible situations – Risa is thrust into a world where there is little to no safety, no chance at reprieve, and no allies to lean on. Out of the three main characters in “Unwind”, she’s the only one who is constantly on alert, and her ability to coolly assess a situation is what stops the other two from doing something dangerous. She’s the character to tries to make the best out of a difficult situation.
Where Risa is calculative, though, Hester is impulsive. She does think before she acts, but she is more likely to let her emotions have the better of her. Throughout the first book, she is very much driven by her hatred and desire for revenge – it isn’t until she and Tom find themselves stranded that she begins to let go of her grudge.
While they are a study of contrasts, Risa and Hester have one thing in common, which is the desire to make more of life than simple survival. Risa is a pianist by training – that’s not a vocation you choose on a whim, and it shows her desire for something greater. Hester, on the other hand, is a scavenger, but it’s by meaningfully interacting with another person (Tom), that she begins to regain her will to live. Their journeys are very similar, if their situations are a bit different.

Are there any awesome ladies you’ve read about recently? Let us know!

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