Girl power packs a punch with teen readers

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

The Hunger Games started the trend, the Divergent trilogy has continued it with hundreds on library wait lists

Jane Charlton, 11, is enthralled by Veronica Roth's Divergent series, dubbed the next Hunger Games. Photo / Natalie Slade
Jane Charlton, 11, is enthralled by Veronica Roth's Divergent series, dubbed the next Hunger Games. Photo / Natalie Slade

Girl power is taking on a whole new meaning in the reading world, with more and more books featuring brave young heroines as key characters.

Interest has been sparked by The Hunger Games trilogy's tough Katniss Everdeen, played by Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawrence in the movie adaptations of the Suzanne Collins books.

And the latest trilogy flying off New Zealand libraries' shelves follows the same trend with readers on long waiting lists.

The Divergent trilogy, by young American author Veronica Roth, has become wildly popular, particularly in the past year.

The story follows 16-year-old Tris Prior, who lives in a futuristic world split into five cities - dubbed "factions" - according to personality.

The books are New York Times bestsellers and now a film of the same name is set to be released worldwide in March.

Closer to home, the series featured in last year's Whitcoulls Kids' Top 50 most loved children's books, sitting at number 12.

The Auckland Libraries have dozens of copies of all three of Roth's books - Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant. The popularity of the saga is proved by the fact that they continue to get hundreds of requests on their waiting lists.

There are currently 669 requests for the first book in the series, 272 for the second title and 528 waiting to read the final chapter of the series.

A spokeswoman said more copies had been ordered to meet demand and the trilogy was available on eAudiobook formats as well.

Wellington Libraries has seen a huge demand for the series, with the last book being the most requested title since last May.

Spokeswoman Bridget Jennings said the Divergent series was part of the craze and surging popularity for stories set in a futuristic and dystopian environment.

"The dystopian genre is just really hot now. The Hunger Games really kicked it off and this is kind of similar.

"It's got a kick-ass heroine ... who can hold her own. And young people - particularly girls - love that."

Film-makers were hopping on the bandwagon and taking note of what was getting young people talking, Ms Jennings said. "There seems to be a trend at the moment where film-makers are looking at the popular young adults books and turning them into films.

"That's where the money's coming from."


Books add sparks to Jane's world

Jane is fond of reading as it can transport one to a 'whole different world'. Photo / Natalie Slade
Jane is fond of reading as it can transport one to a 'whole different world'. Photo / Natalie Slade

Jane Charlton is a self-proclaimed reading addict - so much so that her mother has to limit the time she can spend with a book in her hands.

The 11-year-old Aucklander loves books and has become a huge fan of the Divergent series, which she says has introduced her to a new world.

"I really like that everybody takes risks and are prepared to give up their lives for the ones they love. Lots of the stuff they do ... I would be too scared to do."

Jane, who starts at Rangeview Intermediate this year, said a number of her friends also liked to read and it was "really cool" to read about a brave young girl who was the main character.

"Tris is brave and I like that. I've read a lot of books and the worlds I've imagined are usually fairy tales ... and now I have imagined a whole different world.

"I love reading because when everything gets boring in your world, you can just pick up a book and go to a whole different world. You can go anywhere in books and still be sitting in a chair. Books throw sparks at your world."

- NZ Herald

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