11/23/2013 11:45 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

My Catching Fire Epiphany


I came to this really important epiphany recently. It was probably only 15 minutes or so into the latest film version of The Hunger Games triology, Catching Fire, that I realized: I care so much more about the heroine in this story than I do about any boy that graces the screen, no matter how cute, muscular or tan he may be.

I was a big Twilight geek during its heyday. I was one of those weird people that referred to themselves as a "fanpire," read all the books and asked for Twilight memorabilia for holiday gifts (I got NONE, so I'm still a little bitter). I didn't ask people to bite my neck or imprint on me or anything, but I was really into it. I saw it through because of the love triangle. I was always Team Edward, but there were times where I blissfully edged on joining Team Jacob -- after all, New Moon was my favorite portion of the saga. I didn't really care about protagonist Bella's feelings, so long as she chose Edward as her eternal love and was eventually transformed into a vampire. Sometimes, I flipped through pages of the book so I wouldn't have to deal with her whiny voice, lamenting on how hard it was to choose between a vampire and a werewolf. There was no hidden agenda, no weird twists, no action or excitement. There even seemed to be a lack of passion -- Kristen Stewart's expressionless face made me angry; I felt like I cared more about her life than she did.

The biggest problem with my Twilight crisis was that I was really into the male characters. I didn't read the books or see the movies because I thought Bella was such a great female character. I invested in the craze so I could stare at hot guys for two hours and not really understand what was even happening in the plot. It was directionless and dreary, but at least I was able to foster a boundless love for Robert Pattinson.

I fell in love with The Hunger Games the summer going into my sophomore year of high school. My dad had been harassing me to read it for a long time, so I caved (thanks, dad!). From that point forward, I basically submerged myself in anything Hunger Games-related. Black windbreaker jacket? Well, duh, Katniss Everdeen wears one in the games, so I have to wear one, too. Wearing my hair in a braid all the time? A must. I'm afraid of forests and the outdoors in general, but Katniss isn't, so I guess it's time to overcome that fear.

I was hooked. Of course, I bought into the romance. I was Team Peeta all the way. I can quite honestly say I despise Gale, an opinion I formulated early on in the first novel (also, if you say you're Team Gale, you're really just Team Liam Hemsworth. Stop lying to yourself). But what I found was that I never thought to myself, "Okay, Katniss should die so Peeta can make it out of the games." Katniss was the only one I wanted to win. Sure, I cried A LOT thinking about Peeta's imminent death, but come on. It's Katniss Everdeen.

Josh Hutcherson is beautiful. He's got the eyes of a puppy and the jawline of an Adonis. I love him so much, and I love Peeta so much. But even his perfect smile, coiffed hair, and undying love for his fellow victor couldn't deter me. Of course, I'm a huge Finnick fan, and Sam Claflin is the only person who could ever eat a sugar cube and I could be okay with it, but I still felt this really, almost holy, allegiance to Katniss.

Maybe it's Jennifer Lawrence, commonly referred to as the BEST PERSON IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. There is a high probability that by the time I leave for college, Lawrence will have topped my brother on my "List of Favorite People." I really badly want to be married to Harry Styles... but I would give that up if it meant becoming best friends with Jennifer Lawrence. She makes Katniss so accessible, so real and angsty and moving. She brings one of my favorite literary characters' to life in such a unique, vibrant, and expressive way. I don't think I could ever explain to her, or even anyone, how much both she and Katniss have helped shaped me into the person I am today. Well, at least morals wise -- I could never shoot a bow and arrow with the accuracy of Katniss, nor will I ever win an Oscar, but I did really well in archery at summer camp in 6th grade, so you never know.

Katniss Everdeen is tough, but delicate when she has to be. She is tenacious, but so heartbreakingly compassionate. She kills it (literally and figuratively) in all realms of her dangerous life, yet she's vulnerable and has her weak moments too. There are an endless amount of adjectives I could use to describe Katniss. My general feelings for her can be summed up by the sobbing emoji.

So, if you're feeling uneasy about seeing Catching Fire because "KIDS KILL KIDS," and you "don't care about another Twilight," reconsider. Reconsider a million times over. There is no feeling quite as empowering as watching Katniss' eyes glimmer with the onslaught of a rebellion against a tyrannical government, or her heartbreaking devastation over a twist in Peeta's fate. Sure, there are hot guys, and their characters have substance, but you're going to want to keep your eye on the Girl on Fire.