The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Considering that the first two film adaptations of the trilogy were released during my prime high school years, it’s safe to say that The Hunger Games rapidly made its way onto the list of favourite series. Hell, I even went to Comic-Con dressed as Katniss one year! I even wrote my A-Level coursework on it.
I received the full trilogy of books on my birthday one year, and by the next day, I had finished all three. Even reading through class when all work was done. For me, the story of Katniss from District 12 and her desire to win the titular games for her sister was the hook that sent me on a literary ride for just over a thousand pages. One girl, one sister, one goal: survive.
Now, it’s been almost a decade since they took over my teenage years, I can look back and say I don’t regret the time spent reading about Panem. The Hunger Games prove something far more about the world around us than the words on its pages. It revitalised the YA genre during the early 2010s, to whatever good or bad that ended up unleashing.
Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
When I was younger, I fully believed that J.K Rowling’s (eugh) Harry Potter series was truly the pinnacle of all fiction. I had my Hufflepuff scarf, all the badges, HP pyjamas, mugs, and jumpers. I was even determined to get a deathly hallows tattoo as soon as I was old enough.
However, now I’m a bit older and I definitely see the flaws in the series. Leaving the transphobic author aside, the books just aren’t written… amazingly? Many of the characters are incredibly one-dimensional and based on offensive stereotypes; Seamus as the IRA-esque fire-obsessed Irishman, Cho Chang as the demure, pretty Asian girl, the goblins as big-nosed money-obsessed bankers… So you get the picture?
There have simply been better series written that have proven it is not the be-all and end-all of YA fantasy. Do I still own my Hufflepuff scarf, tucked away at the back of a drawer somewhere? Probably. Am I eternally thankful that I didn’t get that tattoo? Oh God yes.
Divergent – Veronica Roth
I couldn’t believe my eyes when Veronica Roth unveiled the ground-breaking concept of human complexity to 13-year-old me. I was entranced from the first page and the Divergent series followed me through two years of secondary school. I saw so much of myself in Tris Prior as I had (and continue to have) at least three personality traits, and I dreamed off the day that I too would fall head over heels in love with an aloof, complicated man who was only afraid of four things. In fact, he was called Four.
I felt not even a morsel of guilt about this adolescent obsession until the disappointing film adaptations were released, and I took the time to reflect on the series. Now, the shame comes flooding in, and I feel I deserve it. Although I will always be grateful that Divergent didn’t fall victim to the 2010s plague of love triangles in young adult fiction, I am fully prepared to let dust gather within those pages…