On the Hunger Games trilogy

Team Katniss

By Jennifer Lynn Barnes

These days, it seems like you can’t throw a fish in a bookstore without hitting a high-stakes love triangle–not that I recommend the throwing of fish in bookstores, mind you (it annoys the booksellers–not to mention the fish), but it certainly seems like more and more YA heroines are being faced with a problem of abundance when it comes to the opposite sex. While I am a total sucker for romance (not to mention quite fond of a variety of fictional boys myself), I still can’t help but wonder if, as readers, we’re becoming so used to romantic conflict taking center stage that we focus in on that aspect of fiction even when there are much larger issues at play.

No book has ever made me ponder this question as much as Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy–in part because it seems like everyone I know has very strong feelings about which boy is the best fit for Katniss, but also because the books themselves contain a commentary on the way audiences latch onto romance, even (and maybe especially) when lives are at stake. To survive her first Hunger Games, Katniss has to give the privileged viewers in the Capitol exactly what they want–a high-stakes romance featuring star-crossed lovers and unthinkable choices. Given that readers of the Hunger Games trilogy are granted insider access to Katniss’ mind, life, and obligations, it seems somewhat ironic that in the days leading up to the release of Mockingjay, the series was often viewed the same way–with readers on “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale” focusing on Katniss’ love life, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.

But Katniss Everdeen–like  …

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