“The Hunger Games,” a book series by Suzanne Collins, often is labeled as the new “Twilight.” So we teens must now decide: Should we devote our intense fandom to sparkling Adonises or brave huntresses? Here’s a point-by-point breakdown of why there’s really no contest:
1. Female lead characters
While “Twilight’s” Bella fleshes out the fantasy of every teen girl of being exceedingly average yet still incredibly attractive to slightly creepy boys at school, Collins’ Katniss is a role model, a character to emulate. If we all acted like Bella, our life’s ambition might be to trip a lot, seem cute in a pale sort of way, and marry a super-centenarian (Edward is about 110 years old). However, Katniss is courageous and independent as her family’s caretaker since the age of 11. She’s also selfless, giving up her life to save her little sister, Prim. Bella is an excellent victim of Disney Princesses Syndrome, always depending on either Prince Edward or Jacob the pauper to save her from dangerous situations and her own insecurities. On the other hand, girl warrior Katniss embodies female power as she fights for her life and the lives of those she loves.
2. Social commentary
One of many things that keep me drawn into the saga of “The Hunger Games,” — the film version opens in theaters March 23 — is the idea of “what if”? The outrageous society of Panem is a futuristic caricature of our own crazy society, and it draws my mind to current political and ethical issues. However, the higher level of thinking inspired by “The Hunger Games” is nothing compared to the hours I could spend dreaming about my very own chilly and stony Prince Charming. Even the interaction created in the “Twilight” books is forced and only slightly relatable, for all its ordinariness, while Katniss’ attitude and “fight the man” spirit, although more extreme than most of us experience, is incredibly familiar.
3. Love triangle
Simply put, I don’t understand where Team Jacob is coming from. Ignoring Taylor Lautner’s ab-tastic portrayal in the “Twilight” series, there is no reason Bella would leave an adoring, devoted Edward for a hotheaded, hairy younger man. Katniss’ choice between sweetheart Peeta and dashing Gale is much more heart-wrenching, and connected to more than the choice between angst — and more angst. Instead, Katniss’ choice reflects her inner conflict with her own character and helps her decide the sort of person she would rather be. The emotional events that lead up to her choice do much more to draw me in than a inter-species feud. (I must admit, however, that the background of the feud and the Native American culture and folk storytelling were the highlights of the “Twilight” books.)
In summary: “Twilight” may have its merits as a mindlessly enjoyable chick-lit series, similar to movies with Katherine Heigl, but “The Hunger Games” possesses that extra oomph that makes it not only a great read, but a great overall series.
The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write columns and features for this newspaper. Shalaka Gole attends California High School in San Ramon. Reach her at email@example.com.
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