August 26, 2010

Young Adult Lit Thunderdome:
The Hunger Games vs. Twilight

Note: There are absolutely NO spoilers about Mockingjay in this post.  If you want to discuss Mockingjay in any shape or form in the comments, please put SPOILER in large! gargantuan! letters and leave some leading blank space for good measure. Let's not ruin it for folks, okay?

I have seen various conversations and comments going on about the Hunger Games series vs. The Twilight series.  Which I find laughable, quite frankly.

Seriously?  The Hunger Games series vs the Twilight Series?

As I have commented on another site, there is no comparison. Well, not unless you are the sort to also examine the differences between the Sweet Valley High series and anything that Judy Blume has ever written. Francine Pascal and Judy Blume are both authors who wrote books that made you want to read, but Blume actually wrote things that made you want to think . Pascal just made you reach for your Bonnie Bell lip gloss and mourn being a teenager.  Ah, but I kid Jessica and Elizabeth, those wacky identical twins.

But.  Still.

The Hunger Games series is like Judy Blume - you will read, you will read again and you will think. Twilight was fun, oh sure. But there was not much substance going on there.

The Hunger Games?  Atwood-esque, speculative fiction set in the future that is action-packed with a delicious Love Triangle?  I am so there.   But!  Within a seemingly simple series lay some earnest questions.  How far would you go to protect the ones you love? Is it better to be loyal to a cause, or to one's self first?  If caught in a war zone, is it better to just run away to safety or to stay and fight the enemy?  If you stay, is it better to turn the other cheek?  Or to live by the old rule "An Eye for an Eye"? 

This is not to discredit Twilight for what it truly is: a fun romp through some typical teenaged angst, save for the special "sparkles".  And the vampires.  And the wolfpack with their six packs.  Okay, okay, perhaps Twilight was a little more unique than Sweet Valley High, after all.  I will grant all the Twi-Hards that much.

As a reader? I am fine with both series - both were entertaining, albeit offering different merits and quality of writing (Meyer is simply not qualified to hold Collins' inkwell.  Ahem.)

As a mother? It gets trickier.  I am totally down with difficult questions and serious material.  My own parents did not monitor my reading material and while I probably should not have been reading Sidney Sheldon at the age of 12 or for that matter, Gone With the Wind at the age of 11, I am still grateful they let me read whatever I wanted.  And I plan (or hope?) to do that with my own kids.

However, as a mother, I did have one major issue with the Twilight series - the violent, consensual sex in Breaking Dawn when Bella was still human.  Bella's insistence that it was okay, despite the fact that Edward was distraught with himself, really, really disturbed me.  I firmly believe it is incredibly dangerous to romanticize such a situation for impressionable young teenagers and I was so furious at those scenes that I put the book down and did not pick it back up for another 6 months.  I have to wonder how many mothers out there do not even know that their daughters read such scenes -- such graphic scenes that really should be discussed. Can I repeat?

Edward was contrite over the violence of sex and Bella still insisted it was okay.

Seriously folks, that is some extremely malignant thinking and you will have difficulty convincing me that violent sex ever belongs in a series meant for teenagers.  Ever.

Will I let my kids read Twilight if they want?  Yes.  Absolutely. 

And then, I will gently nudge them towards The Hunger Games.


The Hunter's Prize said...

I have not read The Hunger Games yet but I plan to soon! Twilight was a fun, obsessive series but it certainly wasn't well written. I never thought about the sex scenes in Breaking Dawn as violent, though. I guess I see it as part of the fantasy, not as something teens would view as real. Sadly, many will not see it as I do.

Anonymous said...

As usual you have perfectly put into words my feelings about the twilight series, when I read the lines about Breaking Dawn I was almost Meg Ryan-esque in my Yes! Yes! YESSSS! That is it exactly.

Thanks for clearing up my mental mumbo jumbo I can now watch Eclipse with out the guilt that I should in fact possibly be protesting it from a feminism point of view. I can instead say, yes this book is fun, but let's talk about some of the relationship stuff.

And of course I will now have to read the Hunger Games, as soon as I am done with Percy Jackson :)

Cara said...

Am I the only 30 something woman left who has not read either Twilight or Hunger Games? Yes? I thought so... I have read Percy Jackson, though, so maybe I get one cool kid point?

Faiqa said...

Oh, I really disliked Twilight. So much that I'm not comfortable discussing it in public as I'm sure I'd offend someone. This other series, though? I'm definitely going to pick it up. Thanks!

jodifur said...

Is there something wrong with me that I have no interest in reading any of these books? Up until a week ago I didn't even know what mockingjay was.

LuAnn said...

I am so delighted with your post that I am going to share parts of it with my classes this week if that is okay with you. It kind of gets to the heart of things in a way that I think kids need to hear and know about--in an English class, and at the start of a new year. Thank you for posting.

~ifer said...

I just put down Mockingjay, having read all three books in the last 4 days. All I can say is... wow.

Well, of course that isn't all I can say, because I can talk up a storm. But I agree with your assessment of Collins as an author. As someone who usually avoids young adult books, and strives to read more "adult" literature, I was still moved deeply by these books. I don't know that I would even consider them young adult. There are so many dark themes, so much struggle, so much death.

I find myself at a loss, as is often the case when I get to the end of a good series. I don't know what to read now. More than that, I don't know how to leave Kat and her world behind, just yet. I will need some time to dwell, some time to process.

On a final note, I am glad I waited until the third book was out before reading any of them. I don't know that I could have handled the suspense of waiting.