The Hunger Games Trilogy: The New Twilight?
By Emma Shirley
“There have been a number of outstanding dystopian fantasies emerging from America, but ‘The Hunger Games’ is the most profoundly imagined, nightmarish, romantic, psychologically plausible and well-written. You can’t stop reading, once begun…” –Amanda Craig, The Times.
Selling more than 26 million copies in 47 territories, “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins has swept the world by storm. The movie adaptation of the series’ first novel, “The Hunger Games,” premiered on the big screen on March 23, 2012. Published in 2008, the first novel is set in North America in the fictional nation of Panem, a post-apocalyptic state. The Capitol, a technologically advanced state, rules over twelve impoverished districts—forcing one boy and one girl from each district to participate in an annual fight to the death. These so-called “hunger games” are a reminder that the districts could suffer the same fate of complete annihilation that district 13 did (pre-apocalypse) if they should think to rebel against their sovereign– the Capitol. The second and third books that make up the trilogy, “Catching Fire” (2009) and “Mockingjay” (2010), chronicle the events following the annual hunger games and continue to trace the story of the intriguing heroine, Katniss Everdeen.
The series has generated a lot of hype— a good majority of it surrounding the “love triangle” that includes Katniss and her male counterparts— Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne. If people are starting to ask you at random whether you’re Team Peeta or Team Gale, there are three responses you may have in mind. You might shout, “TEAM PEETA! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL INTROSPECTIVE SOUL!” or, “TEAM GALE! HOW COULD ANYONE CHOOSE THAT BORING BAKER?!” or, “Get away from me.” However, I’d like to take this time to confess my allegiance to Team Peeta. I know this article should be free of bias, but my marriage to a fictional character is at stake here.
I also know that my obsession, and the obsession of other fans who have bought advance tickets to over 1,000 sold-out shows according to Fandango.com, resembles that of the frenzy created by the “Twilight” series. It was projected that “The Hunger Games” would beat the record-breaking $100 million opening weekend of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn— Part I.” “The Hunger Games” opened at $155 million dollars, making it the third highest selling film premiering outside of summer. The financial clout that either set of films garnered is not, however, the distinguishing factor between “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight.”
Yes, the love triangle is somewhat reminiscent of that shared between Bella, Edward and Jacob, but the dynamics and, most notably, the importance of the love triangle within “The Hunger Games” trilogy are completely different. A strong heroine, Katniss narrates the entire trilogy and much more is at stake than her love life. This is not to say that Bella Swan’s love life does not have consequences of epic proportions because in choosing Edward Cullen, she gives up her humanity in return for an eternity with Edward as a vampire (one must, however, keep in mind how a vampiric Bella now has front row tickets to every funeral of her human friends and family). The main focus of Stephenie Meyer’s trilogy, therefore, is love– that exciting subject that elicits squeals, giggles and cries from audience members and readers alike. All four novels of the series are dedicated to the complicated relationship Bella must navigate with Jacob and Edward.
Katniss worries about the two main men in her lives, Gale and Peeta, but she also spends a great deal of time fending for herself in the fight to the death that the Capitol subjects her to. Each book chronicles some form of challenge created by the Capitol, which raises big ethical questions that have faced rebelling nations throughout history. While the books are written for teens (lofty rhetoric forgotten for the sake of teen minds and bad attention spans), the books deal with serious issues.
In the midst of the media circus created by its eminent splattering on the big screen, it is this writer’s request that you please do not forget that without a riveting plot line that takes immense thought and consideration on the author’s part (to put it simply), “The Hunger Games” trilogy would not be generating the hype it is these days. This is not to say that every book that gets translated into film is a work of genius, but not every book that garners a mass following is literary garbage written for the brainless multitudes. In short: don’t judge a book by its fans.