‘Fire is Catching’

Is The Hunger Games the new Harry Potter?

Last week I jumped firmly onto The Hunger Games chariot, with its imminent film release prompting me to pick up a copy. As the date, 23rd March 2012, nears, more and more people are doing the same and it seems that another literary phenomenon is on the way, threatening to topple Harry Potter from his broom.

But this is no mean feat. Harry Potter has been amongst us for nearing fifteen years and its hold has yet to slacken. Having grown up in sync with Harry, Hermione and Ron, my life has been so poignantly affected by the series that, even now, I catch myself whispering a hasty Alohomora when I lose my front door key.

All authors dream of becoming the next J.K.Rowling (ignore any claims to the contrary- it’s bare jealousy.) And a few have come close: there was a period of bated breath only recently as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga was taken from book to big screen. But the hype surrounding Edward’s torso paled in comparison with that produced by the final Harry Potter film alone; in the days which followed, the twisted corpses of stray girls, bedecked in ‘Team Jacob’ merchandise, could be found in any Cineworld car park, having being caught in a stampede of bespectacled adults and children. Tragic.

Nonetheless, there is a real possibility that The Hunger Games could do it. Unlike the Twilight Saga, its appeal reaches far beyond the boundaries of lustful teenage imaginings, with themes of power, revenge, identity and survival creating a layered and complex read. Moreover, instead of coaxing heartbroken adolescent girls to the Bella-esque brink of insanity, Suzanne Collin’s heroine, Katniss, is an object of admiration in her independence- I’m confident that she wouldn’t hop onto a motorbike (with a potential rapist) to get a glimpse of her ex’s sparkly abs.

But how does she compare to Harry? In my opinion, Katniss is a character with whom we can better relate: she’s more real *GASP*.  Before you condemn me, hear me out: with all Harry’s been through, surely he would want to take at least a minute to curl up under the duvet with a packet of Hobnobs and a purely platonic Kleenex? But no- on he battles. And in the end, ‘All was well.’ Not so much as a trip to a psychologist.

Katniss’ breakdown in Mockingjay is, therefore, quite reassuring. When my cat died- the only grief I have ever experienced- I cried for weeks, so felt slightly put out as, in the epilogue of The Deathly Hallows, Harry waltzed onto Platform 9 3/4, a perfect picture of marital bliss, with his childhood sweetheart. Where are the needle marks? The haunted, sleepless eyes?

Admittedly, he does have the occasional blip, as demonstrated by his grief for Sirius in The Order of the Phoenix: ‘I-DON’T-WANT-TO-BE-HUMAN!’ But, having just stubbed my toe on the way to this computer (‘F*!”&^G  B%?^$!D  S*&T’), I remain unconvinced.

The epilogue of Mockingjay is less of a disappointment. We are able to see the long term effects of the Games on Katniss as she admits: ‘on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away.’ An advantage of first person narration? Maybe, but I still think we could have been given more of an insight into Harry’s post-Voldermort journey.

Nevertheless, it will take a lot to top Harry Potter. Hogwarts is The Dream: I know I’m not the only one for whom the recollection of their first day at a normal school hurts. Perhaps, then, it is the concept of being special which draws us to Rowling’s fantasy; this could explain the current hysteria over Meyer’s glamorized vamps.

So where does that leave The Hunger Games? With not a vampire or wizard in sight, there is no supernatural appeal and it is difficult to covet Katniss’ dystopian world. Yet there is still huge allure.

Perhaps, perversely, we do desire a life brimming with adventure and peril- a common feature of all three novels. Could it be that in today’s comfortable society we require escapism not into the realm of the serene, but into the realm of grime and death? That we yearn for a Voldermort, or a Volturi, or a President Snow: a removal from monotony?

Maybe that’s just me…

Image: thehungergames.wikia.com

Related Posts:

– The Embarrassing Side Effects of Having Recently Read “The Hunger Games” http://holleymaher.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/the-embarrassing-side-effects-of-having-recently-read-the-hunger-games/

– Not Another Blog About the Hunger Games? http://wantoncreation.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/not-another-blog-post-about-the-hunger-games-a-k-a-the-inevitable-blog-post/#respond

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9 thoughts on “‘Fire is Catching’

  1. Great article.

    I hope The Hunger Games will top Harry Potter, because of its many rich layers of social messages. It’s a truly profound trilogy with believable and sympathetic characters.

    Hunger Games, may the odds be ever in your favour.

  2. This is an amazing article! I have to say, I don’t think that The Hunger Games will overtake Harry Potter, but I am hopeful that it will become the number two and Twilight will just fade into the background. I think that Harry Potter is too much a part of this generation…especially those of us who grew up along with the characters. I do look forward to seeing how these movies do since they are in a completely different realm than that of Harry Potter. I love your description of Katniss even if I don’t completely agree with it. This is just me, but the one thing I had the most trouble with throughout the books was that I just didn’t find myself rooting for her. I didn’t wish her bad, but I there were only a few times I really felt connected with her. I felt much more drawn to some of the other characters like Peeta, Finnick, Prim, and even Gale. Granted I think that a large part of this was on purpose as these characters were designed to be the opposites of Katniss. I did appreciate her strength as the heroine of the books. Her ability to keep it together to do what needed to be done in order to protect her family and friends was one of her only endearing qualities for me. Which is why I think that the third book really lost me. I get how it was overwhelming especially for a 17/18 year old girl, but I think that Collins just had her checking out too much and being used as a pawn too easily in the last book. Anyways, that is just my opinion. And, I am sure that I will be in the ticket line when the movie comes out.

  3. down with the hunger games – twilight is soo000ooo kwl OMGGG how dare you even say that “wh’wh’what isisisthat even english nonnonononono” – you see, bella is my lyf – she is totes independent and ma role model i wanna have my baby eat me and be a vampire . bitch. nice writing style and flow of the article – keep it up 🙂

  4. Awesome post. And as I have read part of Hunger Games, and none of Harry Potter, so far I guess you know which side of this debate I am sitting on 😛
    Also, thanks for the little link back to my post I wrote on HG! 🙂

  5. Great article! It’s an excellent read. I don’t think that the Hunger Games will dismount the Harry Potter series, there are too many people out there (like myself) who have been with Harry for 12+ years and it will take a lot to turn our favor away from the wizarding world. However, I hope and pray to every god imaginable that the Hunger Games knocks the Twilight series out. To put it simply, the Twilight series was a disgrace to literature and the only good thing to come out of it was that it got people to read again, even if it was terrible writing.

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