Much has been bandied about lately comparing The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen to Bella Swan, the young heroine of the Twilight series. The reports usually wind up touting it as some sort of competition between the two… a Katniss vs. Bella competition… with Katniss emerging the “better” heroine, and Bella… well… not.
I’d like to suggest that this is not a competition between Katniss and Bella, nor is it a competition between the two series of books. Both The Hunger Games and Twilight books have a teenage heroine and a “sort of” love triangle, but in my opinion that’s pretty much where the similarities end. And while everyone is entitled to like or dislike either series, or like one better than the other, the fact of the matter is, they are both imaginative and creative, and there is room for both on the shelves of young readers.
When kids read, I’m happy. I’ve been teaching middle school & high school for the past 12 years, and in that time I’ve seen 3 series of books sweep through and capture the imaginations of the majority of students - Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. Not all kids liked all of those books equally, and you know what? That’s okay. Reading is a subjective activity that allows for the varying preferences of readers. So to perpetuate a competition between two fictional heroines that don’t exist in reality is both silly and counterproductive.
Having read both The Hunger Games and Twilight series, I feel even more strongly that a media-driven competition between the two heroines is colossally stupid. They are two completely different fictional characters, in two completely different fictional worlds, facing two completely different sets of challenges and conflicts. Bella’s journey is one of finding herself, overcoming her own insecurities, adapting to changes in a world where her reality has been totally shifted from everything she’s ever known. Katniss’s journey is one of holding onto herself and her own identity in a world that insists upon trying to define her, and enacting change in a world that has thrust itself and its burdens onto her since the day she was born. And in the end, both heroines come out stronger – although not unscathed – once their journeys are over.
There are lessons to be learned from both heroines… you are stronger than you think… you are valuable no matter what others say… you can and should expect a boy to treat you with respect… the world may try to defeat you, but you can stand strong… I could go on and on, but I won’t. You get the point.
So please, I beg of everyone, can we stop the comparisons… the Katniss vs. Bella craziness? Can we stop making fans of the Twilight series feel stupid and intellectually inferior for their enjoyment of those books? Instead, let’s encourage reading, creativity, and imagination in young people... and readers of all ages!
Happy reading and writing!