Whether a wide smile grows on a reader’s face from the tune of a mockingjay or hearts skip a beat every time green sparks fly out of a wand, Young Adult (YA) series have captured both the minds and the spirits of teenagers across the globe.
While both of these references have come from the ever-popular series “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter,” these bestsellers are only some of the novels with movie adaptations to match.
A new series, titled “Divergent,” joins this family on March 31. With a plot about a young female heroine in a dystopian society fighting against an oppressive government in command, it’s inevitable that media will compare this up-and-coming movie adaptation to its predecessor, “The Hunger Games.”
This comparison, though, is problematic.
When media takes a series and relates it to the last successful one before it, it diminishes the importance of both. The willpower and devotion that I found commendable in “The Hunger Games” protagonist Katniss was not at all what I found in Tris, the protagonist of “Divergent.”
Instead, I found a girl with similar pressures of my own: having to choose between following her parents’ footsteps or doing something new on her own. Therefore, when magazines and articles alike link both series as knock-off versions of each other, I am both appalled and slightly insulted.
However, this is not the first time the media made comparisons between popular YA series. “The Hunger Games,” despite its brooding topics of murder and poverty, was compared to “Twilight” simply because both included a love triangle.
Senior Ryan Heflin uncovers problems in this stating, “[Comparing the series] makes sense from a surface level viewpoint. They are all big young adult series that exploded in popularity. However … comparing something like ‘The Hunger Games’ to a series like ‘Twilight’ is ridiculous because …it could also discourage someone who didn’t enjoy ‘Twilight’ from reading the ‘Hunger Games’, and missing out on a series they might enjoy.”
On the other hand, junior Allison Williams feels that despite the problems aforementioned, the media does justice to the series it portrays.
“[YA series are] a hard thing to market, because your target audience is so varied, but I think [the media does] a fairly good job of trying to make these stories appeal to a variety of people,” Williams said.
While this may be the case, the media’s trivialization of the plots of these bestsellers also trivializes the people who hold these series dear to their hearts. As someone who grew up with the “Harry Potter” series, I can safely say that a certain amount of magic resonates deep within me.
“Harry Potter” gave me the stride within my steps and taught me how to love those hardest to love. To belittle “Harry Potter” would be to belittle the newfound self-confidence I had built and the courage I finally found within myself.
But it isn’t just the individual that can be affected by YA fiction; whole communities can be built simply over the love of reading a book that each person can identify with.
English teacher Christi Littell shares the same opinion regarding Harry Potter and the unity it built.
“Harry came of age as my children were coming of age, [as well] as [when] current DGS students were coming of age…there was something electric about a whole community of readers waiting for new books to come out,” Littell said.
Through generations of students, the enchantment that each series carries will never diminish. Therefore, it is imperative that each fanbase and series be treated with the same respect and caliber to the one before.
On March 31 when you grab your popcorn and drink, be sure to sit with open eyes and an open heart understanding that the movie that unfolds before you carries legions of fans who find identity in something that is simply regarded by media as the “next ‘Hunger Games’.”