We Love Hunger Games! But Why?

With the movie coming out tonight, the talk at the shop is pretty much all Hunger Games, all the time. The plot of the books is a little … um … weird. Basically, a bunch of kids are dumped into an arena to fight to the death on reality television. No, really.


How did a book about an imagined world that brings out the worst in people, where everything is pretty much coming to ruin (a.k.a. Dystopian Fiction, if you want to get fancy), become the hottest movie in the country? In the case of Hunger Games, it probably doesn’t hurt that the teenage protagonists take frequent breaks in their government overthrow plans to make out with each other in caves.


Carrie’s nails are the same as the cover of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies.Creepy!

But I personally think Dystopian Fiction is more popular than its goody-two-shoes twin sister, Utopian Fiction, because 1. Bad news is generally more interesting than good, 2. These stories often include a hero of some sort, and everybody loves a good hero, and 3. It helps us deal with real problems in our own world while maintaining the safe distance of make believe.


But enough about my theories — the real question is, if you love Hunger Games, what do you read next? I’d try Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies/Pretties books. The two series share a lot of similarities: They both star determined teenage heroines who run around in the woods and rally against the establishment, and they both include intense government-sponsored makeovers, complete with sparkly outfits and beauty tattoos. Oh, and they both dedicate copious amounts of plot time to makeout sessions and love triangles.


Don’t get me wrong — these stories are very different. Call them the 1984 and Brave New World of Young Adult literature — they’re both about total government control, but one comes because the good guys lose; the other because the good guys are too lulled by comfort that they don’t even fight.


The point is, if you loved Hunger Games but already finished the series, don’t despair. There’re actually plenty of great dystopian series left for you to love. And, if you haven’t read the books, by all means, get yourself a copy, or at least a ticket to the movie — because you haven’t lived until you’ve vicariously run through the woods with a bow and arrow, hunting teenagers and avoiding cyber-mutated beasts.


Books: Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay & UgliesPrettiesSpecialsExtras
Ebooks:Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay & UgliesPrettiesSpecialsExtras


Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books.

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