If you told me even last year that 2020 would reignite the Twilight and The Hunger Games fandoms, I would have thought you were joking.
With the announcement of Midnight Sun (tbh I wish it had been The Host 2) and the release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I got to thinking. Memories from my high school years started resurfacing. Going to midnight premiers, reading the books, fangirling with friends over the characters. I started remembering my two best friends at the time, our sleepovers, our hangouts, mid night movie premiers and all the other moments we shared for years.
It’s weird thinking back on those moments, since we’re no longer the best friends we used to be. It’s also kind of sad, and probably a reason why I wasn’t super excited when the news for Midnight Sun first dropped. It’s hard to be super excited for something that you initially shared with two important people at such a formative time in our lives.
My friends that I shared Twilight and Hunger Games with – (I’m going to call them “L” and “K” since they asked me to not use their names but gave me permission to use some photos) – were two of the first people to befriend me when I moved to the states. We grew close quickly and did everything with each other. Unfortunately, we rarely talk anymore, and have grown apart and I think it’s sad and I really wish we hadn’t. But, we’re not here to discuss how friendships can end. We’re here to reminisce about an era that define so many of us, jumpstarted the YA genre as we know it, and brought so many people together.
So, let’s start with Twilight, since that was popular before Hunger Games.
Twilight was such a formative part of my journey into reading the way I do now. But it wasn’t always. I first heard a friend talking about it in 8th grade. I think that was the first year it really started to gain traction and popularity despite being out for 2 years. I’m pretty sure we were sitting in a US history class, and she was telling me all about this vampire book she was reading, how good it was, and how I should read it.
I turned my nose up at the mention of ‘vampire’ and I’m pretty sure I told her that I wouldn’t read a stupid vampire book.
Boy did I ever eat my own words.
I don’t remember what exactly prompted me to finally pick up Twilight, but I was in 9th grade, it was a long Halloween weekend, and I binge read the entire series. I had my dad make multiple trips to Barnes and Nobles (thankfully there is one right across the street!) to buy each next book, and by the time I was back in school, I’d downed the whole series.
I don’t really remember how my two friends got into the books, I vaguely remember convincing L, and we would go to her house, put a DiGiorno Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza in her oven, and sit on the floor of her kitchen reading. As for K, I don’t remember how she got into the series, whether it was me, or she picked it up on her own. When we were best friends, she was an avid reader, so she might’ve found it herself. But we bonded and became closer through our love (borderline obsession) with the series. I remember going over to their houses and we would just sit and read the books. We’d print off pictures of the cast from various photo shoots and tape them to our walls. Probably like most teenage girls, we quickly became obsessed. K had this puffy makeup brush that had glitter in the handle, and we’d brush that fine sparkly glitter all over ourselves. At one point, I even swapped out my shampoo for a strawberry scented one.
Then the movies started coming out. We always bought our tickets early – I still have all of mine. L, K and I made t-shirts for the first two Twilight movies…okay my mom made them since we just used iron on paper and put pictures of the cast on the front and a quote on the back. We arrived at movie theaters, like 2 hours early to guarantee us good seats – this was before reserved seating, and before 5PM showings the day before, became the new midnight premiers.
We would have photo shoots in the movie theater halls. We would get there so early that they wouldn’t have a designated area for a line, and we were always first. We’d goof off and talk excitedly about the movie.
We were Twihards and we were about to see the movie version of our favorite books. I unfortunately only have 1 photo from the Twilight Premier due to an external hard drive accident in 2010. I’m bummed that any photos we took together were lost, but we more than made up for it at the New Moon premier.
At some point in our Twilight crazed days, K ended up with an Edward doll that would sit on her bookshelf next to a brown paper wolf. My bedroom walls were covered in posters, magazine clippings, and L’s bedroom walls had some drawings a different friend did of the cast. I showed them both HillyWood’s Twilight Parodies (if you haven’t seen them yet, you’re missing out) and we fell deeper into the franchise. Honestly, I don’t want to know wha I spent on Twilight Merch.
Where you Team Edward, or Team Jacob?
I was solidly Team Jacob – I definitely had a crush on Taylor Lautner when I was younger. Though I think I’d prefer to be a vamp if it came down to it. The movies came out each fall of High School, with the final one coming out my first semester of college. That plot twist in the final one – yeah, the whole theater erupted. We would make count downs in our agenda books for the premier. It’s been quite a few years since then, so I don’t remember as much, but my friends and I went and saw all of the premiers – or tried to. We were all at different colleges for the last one, so that made things a little difficult.
While the Twilight movies were still being released, another series gained popularity. The Hunger Games! I read THG in 2012 and fell in love with the series. It’s another one that I binge read in a weekend. I don’t remember if L and K were as into THG as I was, but I’m a massive sucker for science fiction/dystopian books. So, I devoured this trilogy and fell in love with it.
My memories for this series aren’t as engrained or easy to dig up. These books came to me right as I was finishing high school and the movies premiered while I was in college. While I definitely was swept up in the phenomena that this series created, i didn’t have the same bonding experience with it, with friends. at least not in the way I did with Twilight.
Friends went with me to the premiers – another friend, we’ll call her A, went with me. It was midnight on a school night, she had just performed in a theater production for our high school (hence the face pain in the photo). I think we left that theater around 2 and had to be at school by 7:15am the next morning. That Friday was rough. Really rough. We wore shirts that we had made to the premier – this was back in the days were I actually used puffy paint to design various shirts.
At this point my walls were void of Twilight and had been taken over by new posters. I had the Katniss and Gale posters. Katniss hung on my bedroom door, and Gale hung by my bed. Please don’t judge me lol. I had a few other posters as well. I even taught myself how to French braid, so I could learn how to Dutch braid, just to be able to do Katniss’ braid. I have a mockingjay pin and was even Katniss one year handing out candy. I very well might’ve been more obsessed with THG than Twilight. God, I wanted to be Katniss so badly.
Where you Team Peeta or Team Gale?
I had a massive crush on Liam Hemsworth, so I was Team Gale. Now I’m solidly Team Peeta, but younger me was dumb. Peeta is obviously the superior choice, but damn if I don’t still find Liam attractive LOL.
What can I say?
I remember the excitement for each new movie – when the trailers dropped, the new movie posters. I even did portraits of Katniss, Gale and Peeta for a Senior Art Project in high school. My teacher liked it so much that she put it on display for the Senior Art Wall. I had to explain to her multiples times who the faces belonged to, but she liked the study of light and contrast.
2008-2015 was the time of YA adaptations. Between Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, etc. book nerds had the pick of what they could be obsessed with.
With the release and upcoming release of these two books, it brought back a bunch of memories. Fond memories of good times with friends. Hell, simpler times. There was a different energy back then, everyone came together for a series of books – both were household names. You might not have read the books, but chances were you knew someone who had. I miss the energy of midnight premiers and walking into to school to gush about the series with your friends.
Oaky…maybe not so much the school part but seeing your friends every day.
We get the occasional movie adaptation, or tv show, but there really isn’t that same energy that filled everyone. There really hasn’t been this collective phenomenon since the days of YA dystopia adaptations. I think we’re high time due a resurgence. Vamps are coming back to the genre, outside of this new Twilight book, so, maybe!
I haven’t quite made up my mind if I’m going to read either of these two new releases. I’m kind of over Twilight and don’t really have any desire to revisit it. I’ll forever be grateful for what it did for the YA genre, but I kinda just want to leave my memories as they are. I don’t want to inadvertently tarnish them.
As for the new THG book, I have like zero desire to read about Snow, but people have been really enjoying it, so maybe one day in the future.
So, this post is incredibly long, and if you’ve made it this far, thank you for sticking it out. I guess I got a little lost in remembering good times. It’s funny, I started this post on Tuesday and sat down to write it. I didn’t expect it to be hard or this time consuming. I texted L and K to see if they were okay with me using photos and I actually chatted with K for the first time in a year, maybe? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t really miss them. I miss just being able to talk with them. Then, that night I had a dream that we had gotten together to reminisce about our Twilight days, and when I woke up, I was so disoriented. It felt so real, and then I was in an emotional funk for the rest of the day. But now, it’s taken me hours longer than I thought it would to do this post, due to getting lost down memory lane.
Writing this post was a lot of fun, despite some of the bumps I hit along the way. I think it’s interesting to look back and see where we were when Twilight and/or Hunger Games was a part of our lives. For the most part, it seems like it was a huge part of most readers lives. So, here’s my request to you – think of this whole post as an unofficial tag “tag”- if you feel inclined, share your memories/a memory of how either of these series were a part of your life!
Did you go to premiers? Whose Team were you on? etc.
There are no formal questions – so just write and share whatever you feel like.
I “tag” whoever wants to do this Nostalgia post – and if you do this, please let me know! I’d love to read your posts, see your memories if you include pictures. Let’s reminisce about vampires, werewolves and two tributes who would rather eat berries than be entertainment for the rich.