I both work with and live with middle school girls. Because of this, I think it’s important to keep up with the media that’s popular with them. So, yes, I’ve read the Twilight and the Hunger Games series. As I’ve been reading the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy, I can’t help but make comparisons between Katniss Everdeen, the hero in this book, and Bella from Twilight. I also asked my 6th grade daughter to share her thoughts on these two characters. Here’s what we have agreed on:
1. Both Bella and Katniss are flawed characters, and are meant to be. We’re not supposed to love them unconditionally, but to relate to their imperfections and struggles.
2. Compared to Katniss, Bella seems fairly one-dimensional. While in the Twilight series we learn a lot about Jacob and Edward, their history, and what makes them tick, Bella always kind of remains an enigma. We both found it hard to really care about her, personally. I mean, like her and her choices or not, in The Hunger Games we’re given enough insight into Katniss that we understand her choices and care about what happens to her and those she loves.
3. Bella is co-dependent. She doesn’t really start liking Forks until she connects with Edward. Once he leaves, her days are so empty that her months are recorded as blanks and she becomes almost catatonic in her despair UNTIL….she connects with another male. UGH! I hate that part of the book. Seriously, I do not want my daughters or the girls with whom I work getting the message that what makes their lives interesting and worthy is boys.
4. While both characters face dangerous foes, Katniss is a warrior and victor, while Bella is often sitting and letting others take care of her. She does try to take some steps to deal with things herself, but they often seem careless. This point could be argued, but we both see Bella as a much more passive character.
So, what do you think? Both series have been extremely popular with adolescents. Both feature a central female character and a bit of a love triangle. I think there are interesting things to be said about both series, but in all, I have to say that I like The Hunger Games and Katniss better. In my view, she is just a more complex, strong character that represents the reality of love, choice, power, and struggle. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games, I highly recommend them.