The Hunger Games and Young Adult Fiction – The Biggest Thing Now?

With the successes of the Twilight series and the Harry Potter movies, Hollywood seems to have it spot on again with the release of The Hunger Games this month. The movie so far has received only praise from both fans and critics and is expected to rake in record sales worldwide. The movie’s sales figure so far puts it on par with the income from the last Harry Potter movie, which took seven movies to reach that level! The Hunger Games has also had the third best opening weekend box office sales of any movie so far.

The Hunger Games and Young Adult Fiction – The Biggest Thing Now?

Cashing in on the Good

Considering it is all eyes on everything Hunger Games at the moment, it has been another bulls eye for movie bosses keeping their current target, the young adult market, or YA as it’s commonly referred to, very, very happy with their latest offering.

Wikipedia defines the young adult fiction market as fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, approximately ages 10 to 20. This market has been growing exponentially in the last ten years with movie bosses raking in the profits of predictable (if this could ever become boring!) storylines aimed at teen audiences featuring romance, heroism, teen love and the fight against evil.

TwiFans – a Whole Generation

In each of the above movies, the authors of these novels also became an instant hit with rave reviews and the limelight propelling them to celebrity status. Stephenie Meyer, author of the young adult novel Twilight and its sequels, got the idea for the book in a dream. Being a stay-at-home mum of three though, she didn’t give it much thought. But after being plagued by the characters and their stories, she started penning the story and its details down at night when everybody was sleeping.

When being interviewed about the idea of a werewolf falling in love with a human girl, Meyer still says, “It really captured my imagination.” Which seems to be an understatement for what it did to the rest of the world of young girls (and adult women too)! After documenting the dream and its details vividly, she started spending more time in this fantasy world to see what happens to the characters and their stories. After the books’ raving success, the movie offers came in and because of the movies’ success; it has also catapulted its three young movie stars to stardom.

The constant underlying competition between Edward and Jacob has created a wall of fans supporting Team Edward and Team Jacob. What has been captivating is how young fans feel part of how the romance between Edward and Bella developed. The unorthodox manner of the romance between these two very unlikely characters appeals to young readers in a day and age where they are constantly bombarded with imperfections and here they get a picture of an age old romance overcoming all obstacles – a true love story indeed.

A modern day young hero

The same can be said for the Percy Jackson books written by author Rick Riordan. In the first book, the reader meets Percy, a troubled twelve-year-old diagnosed with both ADHD and dyslexia, and who also has behavioural problems. Unknown to him though, his supernatural powers puts him in another league than that of his peers. Percy discovers eventually that he is a demigod and that he needs to save his mother from the underworld. As the first book and the subsequent books proved, so many young adults associate themselves with Percy. Still in school, frustrated by everyday problems, this young man manages to go on quests, change his destiny, rescues and protects his loved ones and discovers he is actually quite godlike – who wouldn’t want to be that!

Take me far, far away…

“Young-adult literature is a genre that takes place at a specific time in your life when everything seems to be high stakes,” says Erik Feig, president of production at Lionsgate, the studio behind The Hunger Games and Twilight. “If you set stories in different worlds with unique protagonists and an element of wish fulfilment, I don’t think people will ever be tired of it.”

Unlike Twilight, which was mainly aimed at girls and young women, the Hunger Games speak to men too. As for Hollywood latest films on brand-name franchises on young adult books, romance is out and battles between good and evil is the latest hot topic, where the fate of the world depends on the actions of a young male or female.

The “Hunger Games” is one such novel, out of the pen of American television writer and novelist, Suzanne Collins, which centres around the world of a sixteen year-old girl, Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. Collins said she was inspired by Greek myths and the historical Roman gladiatorial battles for the base of the story.

Seeing the success of the movie so far in its early release days, fans can excitedly look forward to the next movie of the two adaptations of the trilogy, planned for release in August next year.

Tough crowd?

Not everyone who’s tried has been successful to tap this market though. “The Golden Compass”, “Inkheart”, “Jumper”, “Eragon” and “I am Number Four”, were all successful as books, but did not quite impress enough to manage to get a sequel. Even though almost all of these held a stellar cast, it just couldn’t live up to the expectations of its teen fans.

Much to look forward though, with the last movie in the Twilight series, “Breaking Dawn Part 2” being released in the fall of this year. There are also a few new releases such as “The Mortal Instruments”, “Shiver”, “Just Listen” and “How I Live Now” currently in the making.

Holly Winnard is a freelance writer from England who specialises in finance writing and in particular analysing the interest on savings for major accounts in the UK. At heart, however, she never fully left her early twenties behind and still loves the young adult fiction genre today.
GS Reporter: Holly Winnard

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