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October 18, 2013 / milesandhisfavorites

Legend Is Better Than The Hunger Games Part One: The Typecast

I’ve been re-reading some YA classics recently, mostly The Hunger Games trilogy.  And I’ve realized something-it’s still a totally awesome series.  It practically INVENTED dystopian YA, or at the very least, sent it into a new boom not seen since Scott Westerfeld came out with the Uglies quartet.  It created the typecast we see today.

  • It takes place in an uncertain age (literally, we never learn what year The Hunger Games takes place in, just that it takes place seventy-four to seventy-five years after the Games began), after an uncertain disaster (almost always global warming) has devastated humanity.
  • From the ashes, a (usually) small, partly totalitarian but portrayed as benevolent society takes shape.
  • Said society either enforces its rule or tries to sound further benevolent through a coming-of-age ritual.  This most often is the focus of the book and the character defies it, leading to widespread rebellion.
  • The character will be a strong independent woman who don’t need no man, except…
  • At least one character, usually two, will be in love with the character.  They will be handsome and each have their own reasons for loving her, and this will be one of the main conflicts throughout the trilogy.  Oh, yeah:
  • It’s a trilogy.
  • There will always be motifs.  Most often, several.  These will usually shape the character, and be featured prominently on the cover.

Let’s take a look at a couple trilogies, just to prove this.  Well, okay, I’ve only fully read one, but I have read the first book and part of the other (that’s out), so I am at least partially fit to judge them!  First up, the most obvious.

Caesar Flickerman is like the Strong Belwas of The Hunger Games.  Actually, he’d totally be a Tyroshi.

Precisely.  The Hunger Games trilogy sold about fifty million copies, so clearly Suzanne Collins did something right.  Let’s take a look at the tropes.

  • Dystopian future: The nation of Panem, twelve middle class-to-1800s Irish immigrant-poor districts that serve the lavish and crazy Capitol.
  • Coming-of-age ritual: This is a bit nebulous, but it’s probably being eligible to take part in the Hunger Games, which if you don’t know what those are, read the book.  It’s a child-based deathmatch.
  • Strong female character: Oh, come on!  Katniss Everdeen, District 12 hunter and Hunger Games volunteer.  She’s exceptional with a bow but personally flawed, and has a temper like a Spanish bull.  I’m assuming being a Spanish bull automatically means you’re fighting someone.  Can any Spanish bulls confirm this for me?
  • Love triangle: It’s between Katniss’s District 12 compatriot Peeta Mellark and fellow hunter Gale… wait, what’s his last name?  Ah, yes, Hawthorne.  Which doesn’t count as a misspell according to WordPress.  Neat!  Me, I’m a Katniss/Peeta shipper, because let’s face it, they’re more developed as a couple.  Not that I don’t like Gale.
  • Motifs: By the dozens, it seems.  The mockingjay (genetically engineered songbird), the bow, the woods in general, the wolf Mutts at the end of the first book, the cave, the clock in Catching Fire, fire in general.  Yeah.
  • My thoughts: Yeah, this is great.  The setting is great, the action is great, the characters are unique and interesting, and I just keep wanting to find more about this world.  Do a prequel series, Suzanne!

And both second and last, Veronica Roth’s Divergent.

Apologies for the small size.  The other ones would take up the entire screen.

  • Dystopian future: An apocalypse-ravaged Chicago.  Five factions work together and rule communally.  There’s Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, Abnegation, and Candor.
  • Coming-of-age ritual: On a certain day, all sixteen-year-olds choose which faction to join.  Either they stay with their families, or make a new life for themselves among new people.
  • Strong female character: Beatrice Prior, who actually is a pretty weak person at the start.  She was born into the ultra-selfless and bland Abnegation faction, but joins Dauntless to the dismay of her parents.  She has to become awesome and face a looming war.  Not too bad.
  • Love triangle: Actually, shockingly enough, as far as I’ve gotten, there is none.  There’s a Dauntless guy nicknamed Four (I won’t say why), and that’s about it.
  • Motifs: Also a nebulous one.  However, each of the factions have their own logos, which ARE on the covers, which therefore make them the motif.  Also, Beatrice (newly christened Tris) gets tattoos of some of them.  So, yeah.
  • My thoughts: Meh.  Good concept that makes you think, but I find myself rooting for the villains, if only because, yeah, they’re kinda right.  Abnegation SHOULDN’T rule.  They’re nice people, but have no ambition, no idea of prosperity… I’m getting ahead of myself.  Divergent is a fine book, but it isn’t as good as the one we’re here to discuss.  Not by a longshot.

So, what book do I think is superior to The Hunger Games in nearly every possible way?  Marie Lu’s Legend.  And the sequel, Prodigy.

File:Legend Marie Lu Book cover.jpg



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