The Hunger Games was the definition of a cultural moment. The books were eagerly awaited by YA fans everywhere, and the movies had just as much hype surrounding them. However, are they the best YA books out there, or is there something superior? Today, we're going to be taking a look back at The Hunger Games, and looking at five reasons why it is the definitive YA franchise. We'll also be taking a look at five reasons why it doesn't live up to that title. Let's get right into it.
10 Definitive: The Characters
The characters that inhabited Panem are the reason that the story was compelling - plus all the child murders. Of course, Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss is far and away the most compelling and interesting of them all, but characters like Peeta and Gale are also incredibly important. Characters from the most important and wealthy districts who are excited to start a bloodbath are also characters worth looking at. There's a lot of motivations and thought processes to explore in Panem that are very interesting.
9 Not So Much: Its Narrow View
The story is also only told from the view of Katniss, a single person from the poorest district. It would have been interesting to see a few different points of view, maybe see what life was like for those living in luxury, not just poverty. While Katniss's view is still great, it's only one piece of the puzzle. Having more would build a better picture of Panem for readers.
8 Definitive: That Dystopia
Of course, you can't have YA novels without Dystopia. Any respectable YA reader knows that dystopian futures are the name of the game for the genre. Considering that The Hunger Games features a world where 23 children are sentenced to death by other children every single year, it's got dystopia on lock. It's certainly one of the more interesting takes on a Dystopian future, and still features that good ol' government control hook that we love to see. You can't have YA without government control, either.
7 Not So Much: The Lack Of World Building
One critique that The Hunger Games faces often is that we know nothing about the world outside of Panem. Do other countries do this? Are there other countries? Just as we have little knowledge of how the rest of Panem operates outside of District 12, we also have no idea how the rest of the world operates. How did it even come to this? There's a lot of history that we don't know about in The Hunger Games that would be really interesting to explore. It's a shame that there's no prequel book or movie coming that could help to fill in some of those gaps. We'll have to manage without it.
6 Definitive: Fantastic Writing
Oof, Catching Fire is such a good book. And so are the other two entries. The premise of The Hunger Games is just so interesting (and terrifying) that you have to read on. The books are constructed in such a way that you never know what's going to happen next. As such, you just can't put them down, you need to know what happens next. Of course, the movies are great too, but the books just have something special to them. The series' premise and author Suzanne Collins's writing style are just great together.
5 Not So Much: Realistic Competition
Of course, The Hunger Games has competition from other YA novels that might be a bit more grounded in reality. The Hate U Give is one that deals with real-life issues that might resonate with some readers more. Of course, it comes down to the preference that the reader has, but the more realistic YA novels might strike a chord with readers that a more fantasy-based Hunger Games just might not be able to.
4 Definitive: Great Adaptations
The Hunger Games is one of the YA book series that made the jump to the big screen beautifully. The movies really do capture the spirit of the books, and certainly manage to tell a comparable story to the books. Of course, the books work a bit differently, as they come from Katniss's point of view, but the movies still manage to convey almost everything that the books do, and are overall very well done films. The Divergent series was literally a disaster from movie one, so this isn't something that is a cake walk to pull off.
3 Not So Much: Except For Mockingjay
But in all honesty, Mockingjay did not need to be split into two films. The series wanted to do what Twilight did, but there was really no need for this to happen. Mockingjay is a short enough book for one film. The movie creators got a bit greedy and wanted to get as much money out of the series as possible. Mockingjay Part 1 suffered because of this. it was a movie that didn't need to happen. Of course, the sequel was great, but the split into two movies was just a sleazy move overall.
2 Definitive: The Acting
Of course, the acting was a great aspect of the films. The movies launched Jennifer Lawrence and other actors in the cast into superstardom, and their convincing portrayals of their various characters are the cause for that. Jennifer Lawrence will forever be associated with the character Katniss. She embodied the role perfectly, and will forever be thought of when Katniss is thought of. Who else could you really picture playing Katniss?
1 Not So Much: Theming
The final strike against The Hunger Games as the best YA series out there is the theming of the books. The themes featured are all the usual YA trappings, and don't really go out of their way to deal with more issues beyond the general societal ones present throughout all three novels. The Uglies is a series that tackles what The Hunger Games does and more. It isn't a major problem for the book series, but it certainly doesn't help its case as the definitive YA series.