I'm more than halfway through reading The Hunger Games now after having enjoyed the movie, and I'm about as sucked into the story as the rest of the world, teens and above. Katniss Everdeen is in the literal fight for her life, and the world around her isn't forgiving. This is great fiction: conflict, danger, emotional turmoil. As readers we love to explore a world unlike our own, and gladly trade our life drama for a fictitious one where we don't have to suffer the consequences. What makes The Hunger Games so enthralling is that deep down, we all want to be Katniss.
Now, I'm not saying we each want to be the main character, the hero, the potential love interest, or the unlikely victor of our stories. What I mean is this:
Katniss Everdeen never loses herself even when faced with extreme challenges, bitter odds, and frustration at the position she's in. She's tough both mentally and physically, sure of herself and of her opinions, and doesn't bend easily. We can relate to her struggles because we ourselves have struggled in the past or are struggling with obstacles now, and as much as we want her to win the Games, we also want to fight our way to success, relief, or achievement in our lives.
Katniss portrays character traits everyone wants: willpower and determination.
Without willpower, none of us would ever succeed even when the task was easy.
Without determination, the hardest challenges of our lives would be forsaken simply because they were "too hard."
To be like Katniss, you can't allow the world around you (your arena) to alter your goal or yourself. You have to remain true to who you are regardless of the conditions and circumstances.
If we were all like Katniss, none of us would be willing to hand over our identity to fit someone else's mold. Katniss isn't swayed by "new," "fancy," "the latest," or "popular/Capitol" trends. She doesn't own a smart phone and would never update her Facebook profile to say, "OMG, Peeta just said he liked me on TV. As if..." No, Katniss doesn't need the outside world to approve of her.
Katniss keeps her foundational rock inside herself rather than outside, or in someone else's hands. When things get tough, and boy do they, she reaches within to find resolution. She uses her smarts and knowledge of the world, her physical skills, and gut instinct about people to tackle her challenges.
We all want to be Katniss because we want to be that sure of ourselves to do our very best even if it means we die in the process. In the end, we all want to know we played the Game to the best of our abilities with strength and character, and Katniss Everdeen teaches us all just that.