May The Odds Be (N)ever In Your Favor

Here’s your hot take for the week: We don’t understand The Hunger Games.

“But Maggie,” I hear you say, “How could we not understand The Hunger Games? It was the biggest teen movie franchise since Twilight! Don’t you remember reading about how well the movies performed commercially? Didn’t you give a presentation on the cultural impact of dystopian fiction on young adults?”

I did indeed give such a presentation, but that doesn’t debunk my claim right off the bat. There are plenty of readers and viewers of The Hunger Games who looked beyond the hype and saw the message of the story – we wouldn’t still be talking about it otherwise. But in general, our society has missed the point.

Let’s get one other thing out of the way: The Hunger Games is not my favorite book or film series, not by a long shot. If you asked me to name my top ten books of all time, I doubt it would make the list. That’s not to say it’s a bad book though! I think it’s an excellent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to better understand young adult literature. Personally though, I’m more interested in how The Hunger Games is (or maybe was) a cultural phenomenon.

For those reading this who missed out on The Hunger Games or just did not care, here’s the premise: a futuristic and dystopian nation known as Panem holds an annual “Hunger Games” in which 24 “tributes” between the ages of 12-18 are selected to participate in a televised fight to the death. The heroine, Katniss, volunteers for the Games to take the place of her younger sister Prim. Fair warning, there will be plenty of spoilers as we keep going!

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games.

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Writing Lessons from Steelheart

A few weeks ago, at the insistence of a friend of mine, I read the YA sci-fi/dystopian novel Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States where a group of people, called Epics, have gained superpowers. The main character, David Charleston, is seeking revenge against Steelheart, the Epic who killed his father. To do so, he must enlist the help of the Reckoners, an underground group that fights against the Epics.

As I was reading Steelheart, I not only enjoyed the intriguing storyline and fun characters, but it was also a very well-written book. Sanderson did a wonderful job in crafting the story, and I realized that many of those things could be applied to my own writing. So instead of writing a book review, I give you: “Writing Lessons from Steelheart

(Don’t worry, no spoilers! The only plot elements I’ll discuss are ones revealed in the book’s synopsis)

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