Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On the diversity of Team Katniss

It's a tale of brutal violence, calculating strategy, and political evil. It's about a girl.

In posting about the admittedly broad topic of gender and kids' books, I realized there was a lot to contemplate about The Hunger Games and its sequel(s!). From what I've seen, the young and not-so-young adults excited about this series are a pretty equal mix of Janes and Johns, Katnisses and Peetas. Even if you go with the stereotypes of what readers want, there's something for everyone. [Mild spoilers for the first two books follow.] There are weapons, force fields, and mutants that rip throats out, but there's also a young girl willing to suffer and face death to save people she cares about. There are even rivals for Katniss's affection, and those rivals are both pretty worthy. I imagine that choosing between Team Gale and Team Peeta takes some thought.

Still, when readers recommend these novels, I doubt many of them say, "Here's a great book about how characters and relationships develop in a desperate situation!" The books sell primarily on the basis of their main premise and plot. Maybe, shockingly enough, readers of both genders are interested in suspenseful, action-packed stories.


  1. Except that Gale and Peeta are pretty much the same person, with slightly different backgrounds. Hard to pick a side.

  2. Yeah. I think the odds are extremely slim that the entire love triangle will survive, but if that did somehow occur, I still wouldn't feel particularly strongly about whether Katniss paired off with either of them. I feel pretty squeamish about "shipping" anyway; it tends to be a slippery slope toward the notion that the establishment of a couple is the only happy ending,

  3. I don't think people require coupling for a happy ending, but I do think most people believe that coupling will create a happy ending. (At least for a while, until the relationship ends, and then each character gets with someone else, perpetuating an infinite cycle of shipping -- I'm thinking of ER here.) And since it doesn't seem like there's going to be a happy ending for anyone, the pressure for Katniss to end up with either of them is unexciting at best. I mean, either way, she's not going to have a half-breed baby with a stupid name and live happily ever after. But a) I'm not quite in the target age group, and b) I've only read the first book so far, so maybe my assessment is totally wrong.