Why modern teenage girls should read ‘The Hunger Games’ and watch ‘Buffy’

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Hunger Games‘ by Suzanne Collins, which is about to be made into a film. It tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a young woman thrust into a Battle Royale-style nightmare in a post apocalyptic version of America. As a character, Katniss is the very antithesis of Bella Cullen in the ‘Twilight’ series (and much has been made of this)- she is strong, independent and a mean shot with a bow and arrow. Her dedication to self-preservation and her determination to protect her family and her district at all costs is admirable and brave. Surely, she is the sort of heroine teenage girls would want to identify with?

I’ve read the ‘Twilight’ books- there is something incredibly addictive about them (there was a joke that the publishers had put some chemical in the spines of the books, there was no other explanation.) Yes, there are flaws in the story-telling- it’s incredibly repetitive, some of the words are jarringly used- but it’s a highly readable series of books. And that’s what’s worrying. We now have a complete industry dedicated to replicating Stephenie Meyer’s success. Hot vampire boys and simpering, helpless girls now have an incredibly large section of the YA market. Maybe (hopefully?) ‘The Hunger Games’ will take over this section.

What has always worried me is that Bella, as a character, is so boring. And her relationship with Edward is scary. Co-dependency, anyone? Although I can never knock a character who loves ‘Wuthering Heights’, I just never understood Bella. There was nothing about her as an individual. I found myself thinking that had I read these books when I was thirteen, it could really have messed up my views of what a ‘good’ relationship should be. And that all future boyfriends must sparkle.

The vampire/human love story was told so much better in the Angel/Buffy story in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which, I am convinced, massively influenced Meyer’s own stories.) Buffy was a benchmark in strong, independent female roles. Where are her descendants? Katniss is the first character in a long time that I think could be a contender. If you know of any others, let me know!

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