The Hunger Games Is Not The New Twilight

The Hunger Games Is Not The New Twilight

Twilight Movie Poster

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.

20 thoughts on “The Hunger Games Is Not The New Twilight

  1. Ha! Awesome post! And Katniss is about as far from Bella as the rainy small town of Forks, Washington is from the District 12. :) Speaking of which, I need to figure out where to order my District 12 t-shirt before the premiere! :)

  2. COULD NOT AGREE MORE! THIS POST IS FULL OF WIN! CAPS-LOCK INDUCED WIN! *is happy now*

    I love Katniss, but like you I want Mr Love Interest to slip in the shower and die, hehehe :P

  3. Bravo! I couldn’t agree more. The constant comparisons of The Hunger Games to Twilight have been annoying me on a increasing scale; it’s refreshing to see someone else who notices the numerous differences. Excellent post.

  4. UGH. I hadn’t seen this article. Katniss and Bella are, of course, nothing alike, and the only similarity between their books is that they are popular YA fiction.

    I study children’s/YA lit sort of professionally (i’m getting my PhD), and there’s a massive failing in popular media for ways to talk about successful books for younger readers. Everything – and I do mean everything – is compared to either Harry Potter, Twilight, or Catcher in the Rye. I suspect these are the only YA/children’s books most reviewers/commentors have read, thus they are their only references.
    Part of what they mean by these comparisons, of course, but don’t say is that the books are similar in their commercial success. Twilight brought in a TON of money for Stephenie Meyer and her publisher; I suspect Hunger Games is not doing too badly by Suzanne Collins or Harper. This is partly because they are “crossover” books – teenagers AND adults are reading them, in huge numbers – it sort of doubles the market share.

    But the glib comparisons to Twilight, etc, are just intellectually and culturally lazy, in my opinion. And infuriating.

    1. Totally agree with what you’ve said here – it’s just because it’s a popular YA book, and they haven’t heard of any others. It’s incredibly irritating.

  5. I’ve not read THG so can make no comparisons, but I LOVED Twilight, for all the reasons you loved it when you were twelve.

    Twilight was a masterpiece of niche writing for a very specific audience, that inevitably would and did grow out of it. It’s time will come again as a new generation discover Bella and co. in the future.

    Judging from the interest I’m sure THG will prove far more popular, as the reading / viewing demographic is that much broader.

    But as for better or worse, it’s comparing apples and oranges.

    Anyway let’s see how they fare when St. Mallory’s Forever! storms the book and film world! :-)

    1. I never thought I would hear the words ‘Twilight’ and ‘masterpiece’ in the same sentence, unless there was a negative in their somewhere. Now that I’ve had time to read them a second or third time and examine them more carefully, it’s very obvious how … well, how ridiculous they are! (And the films just made them worse…)
      If THG proves far more popular it will be because it is a better, more exciting series of books.

  6. For one thing, no one in THG sparkles. They might be set on fire, maybe, smell of roses, perhaps, colored green all over, sure, but sparkle? Not so much, And if Katniss woke up and found Edward Cullen creepily watching her sleep, she’d probably shoot him in the eye with an arrow and then rattle off a chorus of “The Hanging Tree”.

      1. Oh, the malicious cackling I broke into when I read “Bella as a Tribute” … even I would have out-survived her! Probably because I’d be the one who got her before anyone else did, bahahahaha!

        And the other squelchy ends I’m imagining …. oooh, the gooey glory *evil laugh*

  7. Great article. I definitely agree with those points! Plus, the pictures made me laugh, espeically ‘Siriusly?’ Because, who has not made that joke in their life? xD
    As a random point: I have a friend who does archery. It’s never been my thing, but it’s a cool sport to watch.
    Alex x

    1. I’m really bad at it and only started last week (and am missing it this week for a music performance, damn it!), but it’s pretty fun ;D I used to do it when I was about eleven and then quit for various reasons. Still, it’s something a little different to ballet and I look forward to seeing if I can get at all good.

  8. I love The Hunger Games, and it especially annoys me that people compare it to Twilight solely based on the fact that there happens to be a love triangle. Besides if you ask me, there really wasn’t much of a love triangle in THG. Not in the first book, only a little in the second one, but by the time Mockingjay came around, it was pretty clear that Gale was stuck firmly in the friendzone.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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