Twilight. That’s all that really needs to be said to introduce this post. We’ve heard about it, we know the details surrounding the books and we have our opinions on it, so I’m not going to start out with a “perhaps you’ve heard of this young adult series that is popular!” line.
But… perhaps you’ve heard about this young adult series called The Hunger Games that is popular and being made into a movie, much like Twilight. The two series are drawing a lot of ostensible comparisons. Female leads! Female authors! Love triangles! Hunky men! However, being familiar with both books, I make ugly faces when people try to compare the two. Having two younger sisters, I’m a big fan of good female role models. Ladies like Taylor Swift, ladies who manage to be smart, talented and nice while keeping it classy. That’s why I would keep my sisters as far away from Twilight‘s Bella if I could, and would instead eagerly recommend/kindly force them to read The Hunger Games.
In case you haven’t heard, The Hunger Games books are about a dystopian future in which the government forces kids to fight to the death in a competition called, yep, the Hunger Games. The series’ protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is an expert archer, hunts game for her starving family and volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games.
Bella, in contrast, is a socially awkward loner who gets indignant when people want to be her friends, relies on Jacob and/or Edward to literally carry her out of sticky situations, and pretty much says “forget you” to her dad by consistently disappearing to go do vampire stuff/be rescued while leaving him to worry. Not only does Bella have no self-reliance, she continuously treats the people in her life who aren’t as cool as her vampire friends with disdain, including her own father. Bella is willing to give up everything, including her friends and family, for Edward, whereas Katniss is willing to give up everything, including her life, for her family.
But let’s get to the juicy part of both series, shall we? The romance! Yes, we know Bella is a passive character whose sole purpose throughout the books is pretty much to choose a man, get married and have a vampire baby that eats its way out of her stomach. Charming!
But while Bella sobs in her room for months when Edward leaves her (have any of you actually done this? I mean, for months? Not even trying to feel better by going out and getting tacos or something?), I knew I really liked Katniss when at one point she states she may just not pick either of the men vying for her heart. In the series, she never really romantically considers the guys in her life unless she has to (and usually the only times she has to is when they’re whining about it).
Katniss wants survival, liberation and rights, not a boyfriend. And even though romance isn’t her number one goal, she still winds up as a successful, well-rounded character (shocking, I know). Where is Bella (and most of the Twilight plot line) without men to support her? Remove the guys from The Hunger Games and you still have what you started with: a smart, strong female role model who devotes herself to the greater good. Katniss has a great mentality that I would love for my sisters to adopt: Get stuff done. Be successful. And maybe find someone to make out with along the way, but if not, it’s cool.
Which series do you prefer? Which is a better example for young girls, in your opinion? Why?