I'm sure someday we'll stop talking about Twilight - but today's not that day!
Kate Harding's latest article at Broadsheet really struck a chord with me, because it perfectly articulates the reason why the Team Jacob/Team Edward argument (that has spilled over to what feels like every other book that features two men for the woman to choose from) drives me up a wall.
The marketing campaign for the movie pits "Team Edward" (the vampire) against "Team Jacob" (the werewolf), but as Carmen D. Siering wrote in Ms., "few young readers ask, 'Why not Team Bella?'" That's because the whole point of Bella's existence is earning the suffocating love of supernatural hotties; even if you think her obsessive devotion to Edward might waver in the face of were-love, you know you're never going to see her throw them both over to stand on her own two feet.
When this Team Edward/Team Jacob stuff was limited to Twilight, I didn't much care, because that does really seem to be Bella's great moral dilemma: which guy to choose. She doesn't seem to have any agency outside of the two guys.
But then I started noticing other books being discussed in a similar vein. I had to stop following the Hunger Games Trilogy group on Goodreads because the threads ultimately devolved into shouting TEAM GALE and TEAM PEETA endlessly, with no other content. When it first started happening, I was annoyed, but couldn't quite describe why it bothered me so much. Because Katniss is placed in positions where she has to choose between the boys - or at least, try to figure out how she feels about each one.
Harding's article helped me fill it out: it annoyed me because it ignores Katniss' own agency, and the fact that she has a hell of a lot more going on in her life than romance. Bella's life in Twilight boils down to romance, and that's fine - her books clearly fall into the romance genre. Hunger Games, however, is much more of an action-adventure story, with a dash of political intrigue and just a hint of romance for Katniss. Debates over why Katniss might choose one guy over the other could be interesting and fun as one part of discussion of the novel, but boiling everything down to "Team Gale" and "Team Peeta" misses the point of the novels. I, for one, am firmly on Team Katniss (after Catching Fire, I just want her to stay alive through the end of book 3!)!
Coincidentally, when I was hunting down that link for the Goodreads forum, I found a topic on there that reminded me of another blog post I read today: a discussion comparing Twilight to Hunger Games seems like it would hit several squares on Justine Larbalestier's Paranomral/Fantasy YA Review Bingo. Remember that horrendous Entertainment Weekly review of Catching Fire? Yeah, I think the comments there firmly proved that about the only similarities between the two series is that a teenage girl is the protagonist!