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Katniss Everdeen makes Bella from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books look like the hateful parody of womanhood that she really is. Even though, like Bella, the protagonist of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series of young adult novels is torn between two dreamy young men who love her, she isn’t some passive, swooning wretch. When the stakes are high—as they almost always are in this series—the incredibly competent Everdeen doesn’t bother worrying about her romantic life; in fact, she seems almost annoyed at having to worry about something as troublesome as a boy.

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If you have any literate friends, you’ve probably heard something about The Hunger Games over the last year. The series was recommended to me by booksellers, librarians, friends, and even—after a Q&A session at The Stranger’s offices—Mayor McGinn; over the holiday vacation, I finally decided to read them in what was less an active choice and more giving in to peer pressure...

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