‘The Hunger Games’: the new Harry Potter?

Sarah Choudhary

Remember the name Suzanne Collins. She is the latest author poised to join the ranks of mega-bestselling scribes J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer.

Her first novel of the series, “The Hunger Games,” was published in 2008 and launched rather quietly, but by this August when the third book was released, there was no doubt that Collins’ series had became the latest literary phenomenon.

“The Hunger Games” trilogy distances itself from the young adult fiction that has dominated the bestseller list for the past few years. Despite unfair comparisons it will undoutedly draw to the “Twilight Saga,” “The Hunger Games” series is no wannabe.

Katniss Everdeen, the gutsy and strong-willed heroine of the trilogy is as unlike Bella Swan as anyone could get.

She has more in common with another indomitable heroine of a globally bestselling trilogy, Lisbeth Salander (from “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series).

“The Hunger Games” is set in a dystopian near-future where an iron-fisted Orwellian government demands yearly sacrifices from each of Panem’s 12 districts to compete in a televised competition called the Hunger Games.

The goal of the games: outlast your competitors by being the last one standing, literally.

All the “tributes” must fight to the death in order to survive and be crowned the winner of the Hunger Games and the sole survivor of the bloody massacre that is mandatory viewing for the inhabitants of Panem.

In Book I, readers are introduced to the sick premise of the Games and to the desperate, impoverished world Katniss has been raised in.

Only 16 years old, she is the sole provider for her widowed mother and young sister in a district filled with gaunt and hopeless citizens.

Katniss uses her remarkable skills with a bow and arrow to hunt illegally for game in the woods.

Readers are immediately drawn to this young woman who does not succumb to despair in the face of her bleak situation.

Nor does she depend on a man to protect and care for her, thus distancing herself from the perpetual damsel in distress of the “Twilight” novels.

Although Katniss does have two handsome and patient admirers, “The Hunger Games” books are not at their core a love story.

The novel does not linger on Katniss’ life before the gruesome Hunger Games commence.

Once Katniss bravely takes her sister’s place in the bloody affair, Book I becomes a fast-paced page turner full of heart-pounding action and suspense.

Collins’ writing is so fluid, one feels more like he or she is watching the Hunger Games unfold before his or her very eyes, not merely reading words on a page.

Book II, “Catching Fire,” deals with the aftermath of the Hunger Games and the consequences of Katniss’ actions at the climax of the Games.

While the first installment might have seemed like a simple and exciting action-packed thriller, “Catching Fire” raises the stakes dramatically as Katniss becomes the unwilling face of a brewing revolution.

Book III, “Mockingjay,” is the conclusion of the series, and more than 450,000 copies were sold in its first week of release.

The entire “Hunger Games” trilogy has been translated into more than 26 languages, and sales figures are in the millions.

A film adaptation of Book I is currently in development, but no cast has been announced yet. Collins has been dubbed by many critics as the “next Stephenie Meyer,” just as Meyer was labeled the “Next J.K. Rowling.”

“The Hunger Games” has appealed to more than just the young adult audience it was initially geared toward.

The pacing and effortless readability of the series has yielded a fanbase that spans multiple generations.

The series boasts an array of celebrity admirers, including Stephen King, and “Catching Fire” was named one of the best books of 2009 by Time Magazine

Even though the trilogy has ended, there is no doubt that Collins has left the world hungry for more Katniss and more of the “Hunger Games.”