Just as people compared Twilight to Harry Potter because it was a bestselling book, the film made lots of money, and it sparked loads of fan art, fiction and music, people are now comparing The Hunger Games to Twilight.
And this annoys me. Because although they’ve got their similarities, they’re different. They’re so, so different.
You only have to look at these two movie posters to figure that there’s something a little more interesting about Katniss as a character… but I digress.
In an article in the Times last week (I was tearing the paper up for papier mâché and stopped to read it… before pasting it into the 3D guitar anyway), Katniss Everdeen was described as “very like Bella Swan, only with an actual personality and some badass archery skills.” Okay, so, not very like Bella Swan at all.
I’m not saying it was a bad article. It was a great article. It was an interview with the actress playing Katniss in the film, Jennifer Lawrence, and talked about the proactive and dangerous character of Katniss in a way that made me like her more. But that line irritated me.
In my opinion, the only way she’s at all like Bella Swan is that there’s a love triangle in the books, and even that is as different from Twilight as is possible when it’s the same concept of decisions and relationships. And, to be honest, who has gone their whole life without some difficulties of that sort? Who has ever lived who has not had to choose between hurting one person or hurting another? Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen are both teenage girls learning about life and relationships (and in Katniss’s case, death) at the same time, quite explosively. End of similarities.
The major difference between the books, of course, is that I liked the Hunger Games but Twilight annoyed me. Even so, when my sister said, “They’re saying the Hunger Games is the new Twilight,” and I responded with, “It’s not, because the books are actually good,” it was pointed out to me that when I first read Twilight I’d thought it was good too.
I was twelve. We don’t talk about me being twelve. It was a bad time when I made a lot of bad decisions. (My hair cut, for a start.)
There is a big difference between these books because the Hunger Games has plot. Twilight is a story about a relationship and the problems in that relationship – how Bella has to choose between alienating her best friend and hurting her boyfriend, blah blah blah. So, if you want to read about love and relationships (read that as creepy paedo vampire watches her sleep!), then that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a page turner, don’t go for Twilight. Really, just don’t.
The Hunger Games is about the plot. I mean, obviously it’s about the characters or we wouldn’t care how the plot came out. But, the plot is what drives the story forward. There are high stakes – lose, and you die. By the time we got to the fourth book in the Twilight saga, nobody important had died and we were beginning to feel that since Bella was evidently going to escape with her family intact, there was no reason to read to the end. In the Hunger Games? Twenty two people die in the first book, and it just gets worse from there.
So why do people continue to compare the two as though there are greater similarities between them? Yes, they’re both books aimed at teenagers and are mainly popular among girls, though some guys are in on it too. Yes, there’s a debate about whether or not she should have ended up with the guy she ended up with at the end (in my opinion, no. He was irritating and I spent three books wanting him to die).
But they are not the same!
How many adult books are there like that? How many bestsellers among general fiction are there?
You don’t need me to answer that. There are so many books that have been made into films and yet as soon as a young adult book does well, breaks into the crossover market, and makes more money than expected, it’s immediately compared to the last book that does that.
I understand them being surprised the first time, but come on, we’ve had loads now. And for goodness’ sake, the Harry Potter and Twilight fandoms may fight a lot, but stop comparing the two. They’re completely different.
Why is it such a big deal when a YA book does well? Teenagers probably read more than most adults. We can’t drive, so we’ve got boring waits at bus stops and then the journeys themselves in which to read. And parents are less likely to yell at us to go and do homework if we’re reading as opposed to watching TV, so it can be a good way to get out of whatever you’re supposed to be doing. (It no longer works for me.)
Just because the Hunger Games has been phenomenally successful – and I confess, I’d never heard of it before about January of this year – and is being made into a film, it is not ‘the new Twilight’. It is not the new anything, except hilarious and rather talented fandom that can be found lurking almost everywhere on Tumblr.
Katniss Everdeen is not Bella Swan and never will be. She’s not the passive girl who wants guys to sort things out for her, she’s the girl up a tree with a bow and arrow hoping that she’s not going to have to kill the guy who saved her life as a child. Not the guy she’s in love with. She’s not, even if she acts it for the cameras. The guy who saved her life, like, in a legitimate way, by feeding her when she would have starved to death.
The Hunger Games is a plot-driven series with strong characters; Twilight is character-driven… and even that’s debatable. Driven? Dragged, more like. But I’m not here to slag off Twilight, even if it may seem like it.
The differences far outweigh the similarities and anyone who has read them would be able to tell this. So, the next person to say to me that the Hunger Games is the new Twilight, think again. I may not be as good a shot as Katniss Everdeen, but I do do archery.