With 23.5 million books in print in the U.S. and a highly anticipated movie adaptation, The Hunger Games have taken the teen series spotlight. The first full-length trailer debuted before Twilight Breaking Dawn: Part 1, and it’s expected to experience the same phenomenal success. In interview after interview, the stars of The Hunger Games have been asked about the comparisons to the hugely popular Twilight series. They may both be found in the teen fantasy section at any book store, but how much do the two series actually have in common? Not so much.
Twilight is a series of vampire-themed romance novels following the life of Bella Swan, a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen. Bella becomes the center of a lusty love triangle when werewolf Jacob Black begins vying for her love. The Hunger Games takes place in the post-apocalyptic future in a nation known as Panem where every year 12 districts must send one boy and one girl to fight to the death. The series follows Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, who volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Prim, and eventually becomes the symbol of a revolution.
Both series draw huge and committed fan bases of self-named ‘Twihards’ and ‘Jabberbay’s’, largely due to their ability to transport readers into alternate universes and post apocalyptic futures full of vampires, werewolves, trackerjackers and mockingjays. There is heart-pounding action, danger around every corner, highly relateable characters and story lines that keep us coming back for more.
Both stories follow a female lead, but the heroines couldn’t be more different. Katniss Everdeen is an independent, skilled archer who is too busy protecting her family and fighting for her life to worry about boys. Yvonne Zip at Christian Science Monitor raves, “Katniss is too much of a fighter to go serenely to her death.”
Bella on the other hand is a self-destructive lovesick teen who would rather die than live without her precious Edward. She is clumsy and delicate and her violence typically leads to self-injury.
Both series feature alluring love triangles, although it is hardly the focus for The Hunger Games. The series has far less emphasis on a romantic story line, a lot more action and commentary on everything from politics and war to entertainment, coming of age, and humanity.It’s nearly impossible for someone not to relate to the story on some level setting the books up for the potential to attract a much broader cross over audience.
Despite masses of adoring fans, Twilight lacks depth and any real takeaways, expect perhaps to avoid having sex with a vampire and if you really need someone to keep you warm a night werewolves are the way to go. These books sell for the same reason Nicholas Sparks is worth an estimated $30 million. Women and girls everywhere love a fantastical love story.
There is no doubt these two series will continue to be compared on every level including box office ticket sales, but when you look past their huge followings it is like comparing apples to oranges. But there is one thing you can count on being the same for the movie adaptations: the casts will be extremely attractive.
So what is it that makes these franchises so successful? Despite providing readers with completely different experiences, both series offer audiences the chance to escape to a new worlds outside the monotony of daily life. The highly relateable and sometimes sexy characters wrapped up in drama and action draw audiences in and keep them coming back until the very last page and second of screen time. With a little something for readers and potentially viewers of all ages, Twilight and The Hunger Games draw huge audiences at both the book store and the box office.
The Hunger Games tickets go on sale Feb. 22.