Aug 16, 2010
Why I’m Team Katniss
Today at the Enchanted Inkpot, we’ve been having a lively discussion about romance in young adult fiction. It wasn’t long before Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and its love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale came up, with several folks posting about how they disliked the romance/love triangle. I’m a HUGE fan of The Hunger Games, but I’ve definitely been on the fence about how much I appreciate the love triangle.
In my comment I wrote:
You know, I agree with you about the romance in THE HUNGER GAMES. I actually think Collins did a good job with it — it’s there deliberately, and it’s actually complicated in that Katniss is putting on a front about Peeta for most of THG, and then in CATCHING FIRE it kind of … catches up to her. I think the thing I dislike the most about the romance in THG is the way that *readers* have divided into Team Peeta and Team Gale. I do think the romance is integral to the book, but NOT in the way that many readers are reading it. It’s NOT the central conflict; it’s a subplot that affects the main plot. To centralize it, and to debate whom Katniss should choose as if that’s the thing she’s most interested in … I don’t relate to that.
I’ve been thinking about this off and off since I commented, and a few things have floated to the surface.
First, I totally understand that having “teams” is a fun thing. It shows how deeply readers are invested in the series, and I get that fans might want to declare their affinity for a certain character. There’s a long, long tradition of this! Louisa May Alcott, for example, had to deal with legions of fans who demanded that Jo marry Laurie in the sequel to Little Women, and this was well before email and Twitter made communication with authors as easy as clicking [send]. (She did not agree with their assessment, as you might have guessed if you read the later books.)
The thing is, I can’t get past the feeling that focusing on the love triangle somehow dismisses the central point of the series. Sure, it’s a very commercial, mainstream series that is clearly meant to be a page-turning, engrossing experience. But it’s also about war, violence, mortality, and inequality. I’m a fan of The Hunger Games because of the way the books deal with these issues in such a readable yet thought-provoking (and gut-wrenching) way.
Katniss’s feelings for Peeta and Gale are interesting, and I’m interested to know how they develop and change in Mockingjay. But to me, who she chooses is certainly not the most important part of the book. Honestly, I don’t care who she chooses. I wouldn’t care if she chooses neither one. Because for me, the books are about Katniss alone. Katniss on the battlefield. Katniss at home, dealing with poverty and oppression. Katniss struggling with her initially fake feelings for Peeta. Katniss realizing that Gale was always there for her.
The common denominator in this? Katniss.
It’s one week until Mockingjay comes out, and you can bet I’ll be reading it as soon as I get my hands on it! I’m really looking forward to seeing how Collins ties things up, and I’ll be cheering for Katniss the whole time.
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Finally, a couple of links:
I was interviewed by the Book Smugglers during their YA Appreciation Month.
I guest-posted at the Story Siren about the wonderful feedback I’ve gotten from readers.