Bella is a people-pleaser, a bit of a blank canvas for the reader to project herself onto, and she remains forever (until Breaking Dawn) in need of rescue from her white knights. She “is one long, quivering bowstring of frustrated lust” for the bulk of her saga.
Throughout The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss Everdeen stolidly refuses to make a choice, not only between the men in her life, but regarding anything that she isn’t absolutely forced into, with the exception of saving Prim’s life in the first novel. Katniss is strong, competent, a survivor, but essentially unaware of her emotional surroundings–painfully so. There were many, many times throughout the books where I wanted to shake her and just say, “He LOVES you! Can’t you SEE that?” No, no she can’t.
Bella Swan remains unswervingly constant to Edward, despite his absence, his extreme moodiness, and despite Taylor Lautner taking his shirt off every five minutes around her. Maybe her choice isn’t the greatest, but she at least is able to make a decision.
Katniss vacillates. Constantly. Endlessly. Despite overwhelming evidence, both deduced and slapped into her face, she remains undecided about her feelings regarding her best friend and the man she loves, or how she feels about a rebellion against a tyrannically exploitative government intent on killing the youth of the society for sport. In the end, she makes a good decision, in the very end. At the last moment. Because there is no other choice.
“One thing you can say about Bella Swan, though: She knows what she wants.”
The article at Salon goes further with this, and I encourage you to read it. It’s really excellent and provides an interesting view of the two most famous female protagonists out there in YA/Teen Lit right now.
Where’s Hermione Granger in all these discussions? I may have to think on that one…