A majority of The Hunger Games’ success lies in its absolute refusal to admit defeat. From the author to the protagonist, the story is unapologetic and brutal. The audience is given the story of one 16-year-old girl faced with the overwhelming threat of a powerful government and its ruthless leaders.  There is not a single moment where Suzanne Collins bows down to pressure and allows the rules of society to dictate her story. From the brutal death of an 11-year-old to the unapologetic betrayal of friends, Collins’ story is both unabashed and brave. Like her soon-to-be world famous heroine, Collins’ novels assault the idea of a totalitarian government head on: from the brutal Games themselves to the repercussions for the families that the contestants leave behind.

Only that of the Harry Potter series rivals the hype surrounding the cinematic depiction of Collins’ first Games novel. Unlike the Twilight series, which are more often than not treated with—deservingly so—scorn and humor. Like Potter, The Hunger Games refuses to apologize for the dangerous and deadly scenarios in which their pubescent heroes are placed. Societal rules don’t dictate the stories of these beloved characters. This utter refusal to bow to societal dictations is what makes the series so anticipated. Not since Potter has a book series been so deserving of the transition into film. It’s the hope of the millions of fans—and definitely this fan—that Gary Ross’ cinematic depiction lives up to the hype surrounding the film series.

Jennifer Lawrence stars in Ross’ film version of the beloved series, alongside such well-known actors as Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz (I don’t care what any of you say, he was amazing in Precious). So, if we’re looking solely at casting…this movie trumps Twilight and certainly rivals the majesty of Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon in Harry Potter. But, that’s neither here nor there. I’m not here to bash Twilight—no matter how deserving. Rather, I’m here to examine just why this phenomenon is thought to rival that of both recent series.

Beyond the allure of this trio versus the trio presented in both Harry Potter and Twilight, this story finds its footing in the scary reality that this sort of scenario could actually happen. Is this type of affair truly that far from reality? We live in an age in which we watch intently as one bimbo divorces her husband after a mere 72 days—you haven’t listened to me, Kris, have you—where utter MORONS like Snooki are allowed to reproduce and are lauded with millions of dollars for is drunken antics. Is a fight-to-the-death reality show really that unbelievable? The real power behind Collins’ novels lies in its scary potential to turn into reality, a potentiality that the cinematic depiction certainly won’t alleviate.

Though media outlets may seek to prove otherwise, this series is no Twilight. There is no love-triangle. Though both Gale and Peeta profess their love for Katniss, there is no competition. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t finished the series, though. The relationships that tie the three of them together aren’t the central focus of the story. Rather, it is the choices that Katniss must make in her journey through the politics of this post-apocalyptic world that really move the story forward—not, whether or not she belongs with her competitor or her childhood friend. That is a choice that is placed far lower on Katniss’ list of imports. Preceded by, I don’t know the defeat of the Capitol and the survival of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Unlike our dear Bella Swan, Katniss knows what’s at stake—and it certainly isn’t her heart. She can’t sink into some pseudo-depression where Bon Iver plays in the background. She has a country to save and a cause worth fighting for.

So, before Hot Topic gets around to those Team Peeta or Team Gale shirts (they probably already have them on sale, don’t they?) audiences should be aware that this isn’t some fluffy story of love-torn teenagers. This is the story of one young girl’s fight against wealthy, ruthless government leaders and an even more powerful government. It’s the story of one girl’s fight to free her family from the throes of a totalitarian society. Whether she “belongs” with Peeta or Gale is neither the focus nor the impetus for Katniss’ story.

Katniss’ epic tale is one that goes beyond sparkly vampires and fairytale politics. Hers is one of real life potentialities and real world worries—no matter the date or year.