At the beginning of 2020 I heard about the new prequel book to be released by Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, and decided to re-read my favorite Young Adult series. I read The Hunger Games trilogy when I was in middle school, so the idea of re-reading the series as a freshman in college was exciting since I didn't remember all the details and since so much in my own life had changed. I began reading the first book when I was still at school near the end of January, but it was slow going since I had a lot of other things going on at the time. Once I was locked down in my home town with nothing to do however, my time for reading skyrocketed.
There was a sense of familiarity with the story that I've loved for years, but there were also many details that I had either forgotten about or I had somehow missed when reading the books for the first time. These details along with a new, older perspective, allowed me to look past the romance I was lost in as a middle schooler.
As a 19 year old, I still adore the romantic moments between the main character, Katniss, and one of her love-interests, Peeta. However, I also am able to see that my focus on that romance made me just as bad as the insensitive Capital citizens in the series. While the government is forcing children to fight to the death, Capital citizens were focused on the romance between two of those children. The movie, The Hunger Games, was supposed to be about a government forcing children to fight to the death and one girl accidentally starting a revolution, yet the media focused on the romance between two of those children, and so did I.
I remember getting so frustrated with Katniss' character for not knowing if she loved Peeta or Gale and not wanting to have to deal with romance. I felt convinced that she would be so much happier if she had just admitted her feelings for Peeta and embraced their relationship after their first Games.
Now that I'm 19 and not 13, it's easier to remember that Katniss was only 16 when the books started. I remember being 16. I remember how much I didn't know about the world and about myself and I can see now how complicated and real Katniss' life was and how there was no space for romance in her mind.
Re-reading The Hunger Games trilogy was like meeting up with your cool aunt and finding out the story as to why she never had kids and travels the world by herself. You think you know her, but you only really see the pretty surface parts.
This experience has rejuvenated my long lost love for this series, but also reading in general. As a kid I was constantly reading, but up until now I hadn't read a single book for pleasure since 8th grade. The unique breed of happiness that comes from reading a good book is amazing and almost addicting like a drug. Books allow you to escape your own world for a bit, but at the end teach you a little about life or even yourself. After experiencing that happiness again, I've made it a goal of mine to prioritize time for reading once the world starts back up again and it feels like I have no time, because reading is worth the time.