Tuesday, February 15, 2011

harry potter & hunger games=young adult superiority


I hate Twilight. Yes, I’ve read all the books. But I only did it because I needed to hate them in detail—you can’t bash something until you’ve tried it. And sure I saw 2 of the movies—at least I could look at Taylor Lautner. But as for the books—seriously, I hate them. I was recently at a small group last week and was talking to a girl and we literally bonded for a good 3 minutes over our shared loathing of Twilight. It’s actually a great ice-breaker in a new setting: discussing what is so wrong with the series. It sparked our conversation and then we ended up talking about a whole lot of other, much more interesting topics and it was great. So I guess that’s one good thing Twilight did for me.
Anyways. About a month ago I finished Suzanne Collins’ series, ‘The Hunger Games.’ I’m always a little skeptical when reading young adult books. There’s a lot of stereotypes that come up when I think of that particular section of Border’s. Most of the books are entitled things like Mortal Love or Forever Eternity or Sparkly Moonlight Evening Vampire Love with a Zombie Heart Ache . Okay, I’m exaggerating here and made those titles up, but seriously. I’m always a little embarrassed when I happen to find my feet taking me to the ‘young adult’ section of a bookstore. Because most of the time it’s for guilty pleasure reading, something on the beach or while traveling or whatever. 
But as I’m applying to graduate schools and really thinking about where my passions can take me career-wise, I’ve definitely decided that if I pursue creative writing I would want to write for young, teen girls. Because there is literally SO MUCH TRASH OUT THERE. It makes me sooooo sad when a young girl knows who Edward Cullen is but has never even heard of Calvin O’Keefe, the adorable red-haired love of my girl Meg Murry in A Wrinkle in Time. In comparing the books that I read when I was 14 to the books girls ready now, I can’t help but cringe. Everything is sooo dark and trashy and just straight up depressing.
That’s why I have to applaude JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins. First of all, there is nothing like the wonder of Harry Potter and I’ve blogged about that many times before so I’m not gonna go into that. But I’ve recently became a HUGE fan of The Hunger Games. It’s as close to Twilight as I’m ever gonna get, but at the same time far superior to the series. Maybe I’m a little biased because the author earned her BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University. But I have to say the books are just really, really amazing. Yes they are dark. And super scary and sometimes depressing but they are extremely addictive and provide the reader with something Twilight could never, ever do: a strong, female character. I love Katniss Everdeen because she is so, totallybadass. Yes I started to recoil at certain aspects of the plotline that reminded me of Twilight—two boys are in love with Katniss and she is confused by her feelings. But where Bella Swan is so utterly pathetic and one-dimensional, Katniss Everdeen is a fighter. Two boys love her but at the same time she just..doesn’t give a damn. For most of the books she is so focused on the bigger picture and her love of her little sister, Prim, is what drives her…not the lust of a boy (cough Bella cough).
I loved The Hunger Games sooo much and I encourage anyone to read them. I think sometimes young adult books can have the same reputation as chicklit does—that it is all crap. Well, actually, most of it really is, but every once in awhile there is a gem in there. The Hunger Games is that gem. It’s well-written, complex, creepy, and addictive. I loved every second of it. 
So thank you JK Rowling & Ms. Collins for providing young girls with characters they can look up to and enjoy. I mean, seriously, just think in Harry Potter how many strong women there are! Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Lily Potter, even Mrs. Weasley!!! Amazing! In my opinion, Twilight is a disease that seriously needs to be stopped. And I’m so thankful that there are still amazing writers out there for young girls to enjoy. I hope it continues!!! 

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