Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games: an Old Idea with a Fresh Voice

The Hunger Games movie released today, and already I'm seeing backlash.

"This concept has been done before, it was called _______."
(fill in the blank with The Running Man, Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, etc.)

Everything has been done before. Every story idea you have, someone else had it first. Before you feel too depressed, the silver lining is any story idea depends on what we do with it.

Suzanne Collins took her concept of a dystopian society (again, not a new idea) and featured teens who are forced to fight for their lives. With that generic description, I can mention half a dozen other books with the same concept in the current YA market. The difference is how the story is told.

I have respect for the author's ability show the horrors of war through her characters. Some scenes are violent, but they aren't gory. Much of the violence is implied. It's the perfect type of book for a discussion group, for a parent to read along with their kid, or an adult like me to get a fresh take on a concept that yes, I have heard before.

Some of the snippy comments I'm sure are a result of hype; no question this is the most heavily marketed film of the year so far, and will probably remain one of the top highest marketing budgets, including The Avengers and Christopher Nolan's last Batman installment, and Breaking Dawn part Deux: the Cash Cow. Yes, the media has been saturated with Hunger Games. It doesn't mean it's not a credible story, even if the story has been told before.


  1. My mom called me this morning and said, "Okay, so what is with The Hunger Games." LOL I have to admit to not reading this series because the whole teens fighting to the death concept is too much for me, but I always give kudos to an author who can create such a buzz. This series is doing great things for YA books everywhere.

    Sorry for the deleted comment on your last post. I meant to post here and did something wrong.

  2. Excellent point, Steph. So what if the idea has been done before (my son actually told me about Battle Royale a year or so ago, when I described The Hunger Games to him). Suzanne Collins did a fantastic job of bringing the situation to life in a way that keeps you madly turning pages.

    It's an anti-war novel more than anything. To people who say, "It's teens killing teens," I say, what do you think war is?

  3. I get irritated when people start to disparage something just because it's popular - they're usually ones that often haven't read the book at all.

  4. I just read an article on that said the Hunger Games marketing budget was a modest $45 million (I guess that's modest). Interesting. It must be that they used creative marketing strategies rather than having one of the larger budgets. This movie has been promoed for well over a year with a lot of unique a tactics. And clearly it worked since it opened as the 3rd highest opening ever (wow!)


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