We have a guest post at Monkey Poop today. Writer Elizabeth Eckhart compares two book to film YA dystopias, The Hunger Games and Divergent. Take it away, Elizabeth.
by Elizabeth Eckhart
Since the release of Twilight in 2008, movie studios have been scrambling to replicate the franchise’s worldwide success with a series of adaptations of popular Young Adult book series. However, most of these attempts to make lightning strike twice have fallen flat. Films like Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments pulled in relatively low numbers, despite having what most would agree are better original narratives behind them, demonstrating that there’s more to box office success than just following a YA formula.
However, one saga has served as quite the formidable adversary to the success of Twilight: the worldwide phenomenon The Hunger Games. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, A.K.A. America’s Sweetheart, the film adaptation of the popular series of novels from author Suzanne Collins has found fantastic success at the box office.
Now, a new film adaptation of a YA book is poised to enjoy the same success as The Hunger Games. Divergent is the film adaptation from the book of the same name by newcomer Veronica Roth. Both Hunger and Divergent share dystopian settings and kick-butt female protagonists in the form of Katniss and Tris. Let’s see how the two series might possibly stack up against one another.
Round One: The Setting
The setting of The Hunger Games is fascinating. A fallen America, ravaged by war, has separated into 12 distinct districts that are forced to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a bloody competition organized by the evil Capitol. The setting is both easy to understand, and easy to summarize.
The setting of Divergent shares Hunger‘s dystopian setting, but that’s where the similarities end. Divergent takes place in a demented, futuristic Chicago where society has been divided into different factions, based on the traits that they hold most dear. Hunger is the sort of speculative fiction that makes us shiver; in a world of knock-out games and reality shows devoid of empathy, the notion of televised gladiator battles doesn’t seem that far off. The setting of Divergent, however, feels like pure fantasy.
Round Two: The Female Leads
Divergent‘s Tris and Hunger‘s Katniss are pretty darn tied for the title of “best kick-butt female.” Tris boldly chooses to leave her faction behind and join Dauntless, a subset of society for those who value physical strength and bravery. Katniss isn’t initially picked for the Games, but bravely volunteers to spare her younger sister from a certain death. If you have a weakness for tough-as-nails, brave heroines, both series will be right up your alley.
Winner: Clear Tie
Round Three: The Swoon-Factor
Let’s face it: Hunger‘s love triangle, at times, feels downright forced. Perhaps it was the Twilight factor that even prompted Collins to include it in the first place. Katniss is torn between the meek Peeta and the revolutionary Gale, but in both the books and the films, she never seems to give a darn about either of them, really. Perhaps Collins does have a point, though, that in times of war love truly does take a back seat to the present events.
This is, however, where Divergent is the clear winner. Divergent forgets all about the obnoxious, wish-fulfillment trend of love triangles in YA media. Instead, Tris and her brave, Alpha Male instructor Four fall for one another, but are forbidden by circumstance from pursuing their love. Fans of the series will swoon at the passion between Tris and Four, whereas Hunger fans know deep down that romance is on the bottom of Katniss’ to-do list.
Thanks, Elizabeth! We may have to respectfully disagree about this one as I’m a Hunger Games fan through and through. Readers, what do you think? Did Elizabeth get it right?
More about my guest blogger:
Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred entertainment writer and blogger. She especially likes YA, and hopes to see the female heroine trend continue to grow. Find her on twitter: @elizeckhart.