The Hunger Games Trilogy

So you've probably heard of Harry Potter, the most influential fake Englishman since Sir Winston Churchill. This boy taught a generation of kids that it's okay to enjoy reading and it's okay if your cruel adoptive parents make you live under the stairs. As his series trailed off publishers scrambled to find the next big young adult novel series that would capture the spotlight. They found Twilight, which prompted everyone to desperately seek the next well-written young adult novel series that would capture the spotlight. What they finally settled on was a little thing called The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

Katniss Everdeen is a girl that lives in a post-apocalyptic society where a vast futuristic city persecutes and relies on her tiny coal mining town for some reason, as well as 11 other presumably more useful but equally single-minded districts. Their favorite way of persecuting these poor coal miners is to make their children kill each other in an incredibly elaborate arena. I think you can see where this is headed: Katniss ends up in the arena where she is horribly murdered, or something like that. She also has awkward love interests, of course, and spends a lot of her time being naive and passive.

It's clear that much of The Hunger Games was inspired by the previous work of J.K. Rowling. They each depict illogically constructed worlds. They both feature young protagonists that endure no end of grief from their family. Both protagonists are given an invitation into a strange new wondrous and dangerous world. Each protagonist is introduced to this world by big oafs that have heartbreak in their past and probably drink too much. Each protagonist relies on the talents they bring to this new world: Katniss has her hunting skills and Harry has his deep held belief that rules were written for Other People. Both protagonists cause the deaths of those they care about most. These are the hallmarks of a great young adult novel.

In a bold move for Ms. Collins the Hunger Games is not a million volumes long. This is pretty unusual in the young adult field, where more books equals more profits. Kids want to learn what happens next and parents want their kids to do anything other than sit and play Call of Duty. This magic formula unlocks wallets like nobody's business. It's easy to just decide Ms. Collins actually has a shred of artistic integrity and wanted to just write a trilogy, but once you read the last book it's clear she just had no idea how to end what she started.

I don't want to spoil what goes on in the later books but as you can surmise the concept of girl in killer arena doesn't hold up to multiple iterations. This isn't to say what Ms. Collins did was bad, it just seems that the good she finds in the ending was found entirely by chance. It's hard to provide a satisfying end to an epic Hero's Journey without killing the hero off or shipping him off to the Undying Lands. Katniss meets an end that I personally found satisfying enough, though a million shippers cried out in horror and were suddenly silent (as they started writing their own furtive version of the ending).