How “The Hunger Games” Changed YA Fiction
When people think about dystopian fiction, one of the first series to pop into mind is “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. Collins wasn’t the first person to write a dystopian novel, and the idea of a dystopia wasn’t something new; however, she brought something different to the story. Most previous dystopian novels focused on a character who wanted to change the world they lived in. But Collins focused on something else. She chose to zoom in and focus on a character who was normal, was relatable and didn’t want glory. Instead, she was just trying to get by.
Soon after it was first published in 2008, “The Hunger Games” became a phenomenon, building up a massive fanbase that consisted mostly of teenagers. And, two years later when the series ended with “Mockingjay,” fans were left craving more. As a result, a lot of new dystopian stories were published, and they all followed a similar plot: girl lives in a dystopian future, girl has a life-changing event happen to her, and girl saves the world, albeit unwillingly. And, somewhere in the books’ plots, there would be a love triangle between the main character and two boys.
One could argue that this trope of a young heroine and two boys started with the “Twilight” series written by Stephanie Meyer and that “The Hunger Games” was just adding to that. But, by placing the story in a dystopian setting, Collins elevated the tale to a lot more than just a frivolous love story. In between the love and angst, Collins wove in thrilling plots and important lessons. These additions raised the series to a higher level and made it even more attractive. By setting the series in a semi-fictional world, Collins made the series more attractive to younger audience members because through the books they could escape the real world for a while.
What made the series even more special than the thrill was that the heroine was a teenager and someone that could be easily identified with. Previously dystopian novels frequently followed adults, a pattern that made the books less accessible to younger audiences. But with a younger main character, came a younger audience.
“The Hunger Games” is an impactful series because not only did it revitalize an older genre but it also opened up reading to a younger generation. After “The Hunger Games” ended in 2010, fans were left wanting similar stories. Many authors and publishing companies jumped on the bandwagon and began writing and publishing more and more young adult books. “The Hunger Games” helped develop YA into what it is now: a booming genre filled with novels and series. Without the success of the “The Hunger Games,” YA books would most certainly look very different today and follow different themes.