I asked my friend Tiger from All Consuming Books to write one of her infamous Sonnet's in honor of Team Peeta. Take it away Tiger............
“In the YA genre, saturated by
hulking werewolves, brooding vampires and
posh schoolboys, here's an ordinary guy
who's calm, but knows just how to make a stand.
The world of Panem is dark, bleak, and low-tech,
and hopeful points are few and far between,
yet somehow through the sickening, bloody wreck-
age of the Hunger Games, Peeta becomes a teen
candidate for sainthood, practically.
He finds a way to live, but besides that,
he never loses his humanity
and more than anything, wants Katniss safe at
home. That's why I summon all the love I can
for Peeta, the son of the baker man.”
So I'm clearly very far gone into the Team Peeta camp! But for me, The Hunger Games trilogy isn't just another love triangle, and Peeta is more than just the character who I think should end up with Katniss. No matter the outcome of Mockingjay, I've enjoyed the emotional depth and nuance that Peeta has brought to the books, and I've found his presence encouraging. He's not the main character, but in my opinion he's every bit as integral to the world of THG as Katniss is. As Haymitch tells Katniss after the first round of interviews with Caesar, “That boy just gave you something you could never achieve on your own” (pg 135). Peeta brings love and stability to a story drowning in violence and uncertainty, and that's reason enough to appreciate him.
One complaint I often hear about the romances in YA is that the typical YA love stories set a bad example for teen girls, since the guys are either A.) Too gentlemanly and perfect, which creates unrealistic expectations B.) Too controlling, stalkery, bossy, and otherwise dominating toward their girlfriends. Peeta's not flawless ( he's nowhere near as capable as Katniss, and he's not so patient that he's above getting visibly fed up and frustrated), nor is he controlling. His love for Katniss isn't an instant obsession or a mystical soul connection, it's a fondness that developed in childhood and grew stronger over time. Peeta's the kind of guy most mothers wish their daughters could find.
Katniss is a strong, savvy girl with incredible skills, so she's not in need of an alpha male who will scowl, growl, and use his might to protect his woman against all attackers; instead she needs companionship, support, and someone who can humanize her when she goes over the edge, all of which Peeta does. Also, Katniss would probably never admit it, but I think she needs someone to love her. Of the people who already loved Katniss in THG, her mom failed her in a major way when she indirectly forced Katniss to become the parent of the family, Prim was just a child, and Gale kept his feelings to himself until after Katniss was marked for a near-certain death in the Games. (I won't go so far as to say that if he liked it then he should have put a ring on it, but I do wish he would have said something to her.)
I'm also impressed by the fact that, completely aside from any romantic possibilities, Peeta means a lot to Katniss. Even though they'd never spoken before they were chosen for the Games, Peeta was already a symbol of survival for Katniss and the first thing she thinks is “Oh no...not him” (25) when his name is called in the reaping. Back when they were eleven-year-olds, he gave her bread when her family was on the brink of starvation, and it gave her hope for the future.
Then, too, Peeta's such a complex character that I always find something new about him when I read the books. He's a town boy and hails from a much more comfortable, secure world than Katniss, but he also grew up with a cruel mother, so his life wasn't all sunshine and dandelions. He was strong enough to join the Career pack in book one, and a good enough actor to make them believe he fit in with them for awhile, but his true self couldn't be less predatory. He doesn't have a death wish, but he doesn't think of saving his own skin first. I'm intrigued by how he's so utterly genuine and guileless with Katniss, and such a frighteningly good liar to most everyone else—Peeta's not a slick, fast-talking charmer of a character in private, but put him in front of a camera and he'll have the audience eating out of his hand as he accurately predicts exactly what they want to hear.
In short, When you read 100+ books per year, it's easy for characters to blend into each other, but Peeta stood out to me from the first autumn day back in 2008 when I picked up The Hunger Games. He's an unassuming guy who can come off as a secondary character at first, but then he proves that he's an irrevocable necessity to the story. The Hunger Games trilogy needs Peeta, Katniss needs Peeta, I needed to read about Peeta, and I think YA itself needed Peeta—it's definitely a warmer, more meaningful genre with him around.
Thank you Tiger! Beautiful as always. Tiger not only writes fantastic reviews but her Sonnet's are a regular feature on her blog. Be sure to follow her and catch all her "Sunday Sonnet" reviews at All Consuming Book's - Reviews by Tiger (Tiger is also one of my co-hosts for The Ultimate Reviewers Challenge) so basically - I love her!