I read The Hunger Games series years ago, back-to-back. I was driving a lot for work at the time so I was listening to a lot of audio books. The Hunger Games audio books changed my freaking life.
This was the first series that kept me thinking for days and weeks afterwards. I was actually very invested in the characters. I could see the starts of dystopia around me. I was amazed that I read something with realistic PTSD/Anxiety displayed in a teenage female character without her becoming THE BELL JAR. She still kicked ass. She still took care of business. It was beautiful. Immediately, I bought and sent hardcopies of the books to my younger sister and my sister-in-law.
The Hunger Games series was what brought me into the "Fandom" life. I looked fanfiction and I couldn't get enough. Then, the movies came out (I have always seen the midnight showing!) and gifs were popping up on tumblr and I've been addicted ever since.
With the last installment of the series coming in the fall (see teaser trailer ^^), I've decided to talk about some of the reasons that I love The Hunger Games.
I have a younger sister whom I love dearly. After our parent's divorce, we leaned on each other pretty hard. Katniss's main motivation for volunteering for the Games was saving and protecting her sister. Easy as that. Understandable. She doesn't want to take down the establishment. She's not trying to manipulate anyone. She doesn't even expect to live. All she wants is to save her sister. Easy character motivation.
Fight the Man, but first...let me handle this anxiety real quick
Katniss suffers severe PTSD symptoms with haunting dreams, some hallucinations, heightened sense of paranoia and anxiety. She repeats a mantra to herself. "My name is Katniss Everdeen. I've from District 12. I survived the 74th Hunger Games..." She keeps herself grounded in reality to keep from spinning out of control. These are the real affects of war and killing. These are real life issues for many people, even those who weren't sent to kill other children in an arena.
When I read these books, I was in my early twenties. I was married, finished my degree and working at a pretty crappy sales job. I wasn't paddling to keep my head above the water, but I remember the times where I was. Where high school and my parents and my life just seemed like too much. I was just trying to get out alive. Katniss spoke to teenage me, so much so that I sent the books to the closest teen girls that I knew. They needed to see that you could survive. You'd be forever changed, but it's doable. Everything is doable.
Peeta Freakin' Mellark
The Hunger Games isn't really a romance novel/series, despite how hard Lionsgate is pushing an imaginary love triangle in the film promos. (Sounds like something the Capitol would do, Amiright?)
But, Peeta Mellark is a beautiful creature that needs to be protected. He started as a love-struck teen who basically didn't get to talk to his crush until he was sent to kill her in the arena. Then, he became an ally to Katniss. She needed him and he needed her to keep going, to keep the show on for the Capitol. When he was taken by President Snow and hijacked to believe that Katniss was the enemy? Damn. That broke my heart.
Peeta Mellark is the sensitive soul that was never meant to survive and he kept all the "good" and sweet parts of his personality despite the harsh realities of war. He was always kind and warm. A good friend. A better ally. The only person that Katniss ever needed. Her dandelion.
I mean, come on, man. Look at that puppy dog face. It's beautiful.