How can teens relate to the books Divergent and The Hunger Games?

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Although these dystopian novels may on the surface seem to have little in common with teens today, they are captivating for several reasons:

They feature teens as main characters . Most teens enjoy reading about characters who are more like them than not. Therefore, Tris and Katniss are more innately...

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Although these dystopian novels may on the surface seem to have little in common with teens today, they are captivating for several reasons:

They feature teens as main characters. Most teens enjoy reading about characters who are more like them than not. Therefore, Tris and Katniss are more innately interesting than a bunch of old guys (and ladies) from long ago. (There are always exceptions in what people qualify as interesting literature, of course.) And because the main characters are teenagers, they face typical teenage struggles: lost loves, discovering one's purpose, and family struggles.

The themes presented in the novels are ones that interest most teenagers. Consider some of the themes that emerge in these novels:

  • What is comfortable isn't always the right choice.
  • Just because an idea seems to be accepted by the majority doesn't make it a valid or noble idea.
  • Sometimes standing up for what you believe in can be deadly.
  • It can be difficult to separate from one's family—both physically and in ideology.
  • Finding a strong support network can help navigate almost any difficulty in life.

Let's face it—the novels are action-packed. It is truly difficult to put these books down as Katniss tries to evade Cato again or as Tris tries to find her place in the right faction. Every chapter builds into the next, and it is hard to find a stopping place. The imagery and action leave the reader breathless, and that's important to teens.

Teens in the novels are seen as strong and independent. These teens are not stereotypically technology-hungry, image-obsessed, shallow-thinking shadows of human beings. They make hard decisions, like volunteering as tribute. They befriend the weak, like Rue. And they put themselves in knowingly difficult physical conditions, knowing no one, because it seems like this is their destiny—like Dauntless. Teenagers enjoy seeing themselves represented as capable and worthy of respect, and the character development in these series brings that to the forefront of reading.

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