i've been reading a reasonable amount of young adult fiction over the last few years. a side-effect of having young adults in my life i guess. initially, i'd read the stuff out of concern that it was age appropriate. a benefit quickly arose when we could share our experiences of what we'd read, be excited about the same books and go over the best bits, like you do with a friend after watching a good movie.
so now my young adults actively encourage me to read books they've enjoyed. and that's how i came to read the hunger games and the two subsequent novels in the series. after the headache-inducing read that was the twilight series, these books were a like a breath of fresh air. at least the central female character (katniss everdeen) has much more agency and ability. the novels have underlying messages beyond a fairytale fantasy of true love.
it's been over a year since i've read them now, so my memory might of them might not be that clear. i recall katniss being athletic, a hunter, responsible for looking after her family. she certainly had a lot of strength and courage. if anything could be said against the character, it's that she is anti-feminine, if that's the right phrase. she's everything we don't generally associate with ideas of femininity - practically the opposite of bella swan.
i'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. in bella, we saw the roles of a traditional cook and house-cleaner, someone who is unable to assert herself and who requires constant protection until the second half of the fourth and final book of the series. she is continually vulnerable, and it's frustrating.
katniss is more than capable of looking after herself, and in fact looks after others as well. which is satisfying to read. but it's like all her positive qualities are what society associates with the masculine, and so it reinforces the notion that women need to be like men to be successful. having said that, it's impossible for one character to be all things. on the whole, i much prefer to read about katniss than bella.
if there was one aspect i didn't like about the hunger games, it was the whole love triangle thing with two guys after the same girl. again. and the pressure that is put on the girl, in ways that aren't always healthy. i can't remember specific examples just now, but i do remember feeling really uncomfortable a couple of times with the emotional manipulation that was going on.
other than that, i really liked the series and am looking forward to seeing the movie soon.