Ever since the parenting editor insisted everyone in our department read The Hunger Games, I can’t help but ask every single stranger I encounter whether we share this literary bond: Did you read it?
The Starbucks barista: “Oh my gosh, yes!”
The random 50-year-old woman at the gas station: “I love it.”
The dad in the grocery store line: “Who hasn’t?”
The coworker: “Uh, no…”
He can’t even finish his sentence before every single Hunger Games fanatic in our office has pounced on the end of his sentence, saying some form of, “Well you should. It’s the best book ever. You’ll read it in one night. Your life will never be the same. Confetti will shoot forth from your nipples when you finish it!”
It reminds me of a certain other book I could neither put down nor shut up about: Twilight. OK, so The Hunger Games doesn’t involve brooding, sparkly vampires with penchants for snuggling in fields and talking about romance novels. But there are certain moments in the book where I had deja-Twilight.
Both stories have a female narrator who finds herself in the worst predicament ever: Two delicious, hard-bodied men want her. Which brings me to my next similarity…
No sexy times
Hold on there, killer. I know what you’re going to say. “The books were written for tweens.” But admit it. You couldn’t wait for Bella/Edward and Katniss/Peeta to finally come to terms with their pheromones and have a good roll in the hay (or in Twilight’s case, a completely unsatisfying water sex scene).
The sweet, sensitive guy who gets shafted
Being that this is not a polygamist commune, the heroine can only choose one guy. Which leaves us with a lovesick beefcake who desperately wants someone he can cuddle and not have sex with. Cue the angst. This is the guy who makes female readers’ ovaries especially active and tweens’ bedrooms full of things like fan art, posters and journals with “Mrs. Peeta Mallark” and “Mrs. Jacob Black” scribbled into the margins. Chicks dig vulnerable guys.
The heroine who always second guesses herself (sometimes annoyingly so…)
Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Katniss and Bella. But both of them have a hard time believing they are worth living, dying or otherwise pining for. I’d hate to see what would happen if you put them on a couch with Dr. Drew. “Katniss, the reason the districts sent you food and burn ointment is because you are worth it. Repeat after me. ‘I. Am. Worth. It.'”
Corrupt, blood-thirsty leaders
President Snow, have you met Aro? In The Hunger Games, President Snow is the sadistic Capitol leader who believes murder is a spectacle to be watched by millions. He is described as smelling of “blood and roses.” In Twilight, Aro is the leader of a governing branch of vampires called The Volturi. He enjoys ripping people limb from limb. If I had to imagine what he smelled like, it would be… well, blood and roses… and Old Spice.
Giant human-hybrid dogs
For some reason, both Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins have a jones for the vicious man-dog plot line. My dog mostly begs for cheese and drags his butt across the living room carpet when his anal glands are fulI. I really do not want to imagine Jacob Black doing that. It probably would have been more realistic had Katniss defeated her dog assailants by putting peanut butter on their lips or feeding them chocolate.
I can wax poetic about all the differences plot-wise, but this is the only difference that counts….
Hunger Games has blood, guts and gore, so guys can hang
Ask a man to watch Twilight and you can almost feel his gonads retreating into his body. Ask a man to watch The Hunger Games and he’ll probably hesitate at first, then agree, once you promise it involves machetes, severed heads and hot chicks with weapons.