What I’ve Been Watching:The Hunger Games:Catching Fire / Genre: Action, YA
The genre of Young Adult (or, as I refer to it, YA) has become one of the most popular book genres of the present. These stories, starring teenage protagonists and directed towards a teenage audience, have become quite big due to the appearance of several gems. The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer may be considered the first to inspire other writers to take up this popular genre.
But sometime there is too much of a good thing. For several years after Twilight sprouted up and was just beginning to die out, I was forced to look in other areas of bookstores in order to avoid the mediocre reproductions of YA that came to fulfill the need for this specific genre.
I thought most hope had been lost in that genre…until the arrival of the The Hunger Games Seriesby Suzanne Collins. With the publishing of her first book, Collins had breathed new life into the genre with her unique story about a girl trying to protect family and loved ones from a corrupt dystopian world.
While watching Catching Fire, the second movie made into film based on her book series, I began to think about the success of this book and film series and wondered about how it had emerged from the cess pool of YA novels that all seemed to be cloned from one another. For this article, that is just what I will be exploring as I try to figure out the formula for curing the YA genre.
1) Diverse and Strong Characters
When the arrival of a strong, leading female character arrived on the scene, feminists and people alike were able to take The Hunger Games more seriously. In this novel and film, Katniss proves to be a character that is no need of saving but still acts as any girl her age would. Characters in The Hunger Games series all work as good role models for youth to look up to. As well, Collins makes sure that her characters actions make sense for the world they live in. Of course Katniss does have two love-interests trailing after her but she barely pays them mind as her prime interest, from beginning to the end of the series, is to protect her family.
2) It’s Okay to Be Deep
Something I find a lot of YA books do is dumb down subject matter so that the book will be “easier to read”. Such themes such as “girl and boy will be together for sure” or “friends are forever” were overly common in the genre with little deepness. Sure, some books had beautiful imagery and writing but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t getting any morale from the book! With The Hunger Games, Collins integrates themes of violence, the 1%, and media into a storyline that teens and adults can both enjoy and understand! As a bookworm, storylines like this are more interesting and rewarding to read as it gives the reader something to think about later on.
After the success of the Twilight franchise, vampire YA novels sprouted up everywhere. They were all riding the bandwagon of this other book's success and while this looks like a smart strategy for new writers to follow what’s popular, this often means your novel gets overlooked because it just isn’t original. Although The Hunger Games does draw parallels to Battle Royale and The Running Man, it still was a unique new novel when it came out and that’s what drew people in. Readers don’t want to read the same theme over and over again! Being presented with a new premise is, more often than not, more interesting.
If I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to comment and voice what you think the YA genre needs in order to spruce itself up a bit!