Thursday, March 1, 2012

Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Trilogy

First, Harry Potter broke into the fiction world then transformed to fit the Hollywood screen. Next, the Twilight series took a similar route to stardom. Now, The Hunger Games Trilogy has turned pages one novel at a time and is preparing for its big movie début.

The woman behind The Hunger Games cover, author Suzanne Collins, took readers by storm with her novel plot and unique characters. Collins’s product, the trilogy, is undoubtedly creative, but first we must focus on Collins as an individual.

After our first outside reading of the semester, we established that creativity is an interaction between a person and that person’s environment. Collins took inspiration from her environment and melded these experiences with her own creativity. Her father was career Air Force, a military specialist, a historian and a doctor of political science. The Hunger Games is essentially a war novel between kids of different districts, all stemming as punishment for the nation’s political scene and a previous uprising. Collins’s took her father’s experiences and incorporated the Greek myth of Theseus and Minotaura to create the main framework of the plot.

The main character, Katniss, has a way with a bow and arrow. Collins herself was trained in sword-fighting and incorporated this into the novel as well.

Before ever reading The Hunger Games, my friend told me the main plot whereby two children from each district are sent to fight till the death in an arena each year. My immediate reaction: How would anyone come up with such a gruesome story? The similar responses from many others prove just how unique this story line is.
Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games Trilogy

Collins also creatively weaved her experiences with writing for children’s television shows with a very adult subject matter to make an intriguing story appropriate for almost all age groups.

Collins threw herself whole-heartedly into the novels. In a conversation with Scholastic publishing, she said some other ideas float around in her head, but until all The Hunger Games movies are out, she says none of her ideas will be able to flourish.

Another main product of Collins’s creativity won’t be seen until March 23 (likely at midnight by thousands who are avid fans of the books). Collins worked extensively with director Gary Ross to adapt the novel to the big screen. She had to get creative with turning essentially a war-zone, where kids brutally murder one another, into a PG-13 appropriate masterpiece.

Collins’s field, novelists and then readers, have largely accepted her work, as seen by the popularity of The Hunger Games Trilogy. Collins, however, bridged the gap between numerous different fields with the actual content of the novels. She combined action, adventure, mythology, science fiction, romance and philosophy.

The Hunger Games Trilogy is one novel and unique, creative, work, but its creator, Suzanne Collins used her creativity to combine her experiences and imagination to publish such a work. 


  1. I absolutely loved the Hunger Games. I am not a huge reader, but when I received the whole series for Christmas, I read all 3 books in about a week. They are addictive to say the least. While I believe that these books are definitely unique and wonderfully written, by our classes definition of creativity, I'm not so sure that I'd call them creative.

    While I think that Katniss is a very strong, respectable role model for young girls, I don't think that Collins is the first to write a young adult novel that catches readers' attention.

    I also read (on Wikipdeia, I admit, so I'm not too sure how accurate it is) that Collins has been criticized for stealing the idea of the Hunger Games from different books. Critics say that, "the parallels are striking enough that Collins’s work has been savaged on the blogosphere as a baldfaced ripoff." Supposedly there have been other books written (a popular book in Japan called, Battle Royale) where kids had to fight to the death for others' entertainment.

    These rumors/ accusations may be false; perhaps Collins came up with the idea of the Hunger Games entirely on her own. If so, I would think it quite novel and creative. But unless this is proven, it seems that Collins may have adapted this idea from others, making her work not so creative after all.

  2. While I'm not immediately inclined to give her points for creativity (and not because I think she stole/borrowed the premise for her books) it is interesting how some writers are able to come up with stories that resonate with huge groups of readers (and non-readers).

    What is it about certain stories, certain plots like Twilight or Harry Potter (and I'm not necessarily equating those two) that build such large fanbases? Plenty of books, especially easily accessible ones like LOTR, Chronicles of Narnia, Redwall, etc have fairly big followings, but none of them have the sudden explosion of popularity and rabid attachment that other books have. Is this expression of mass approval a function of our more widely interconnected society? Has it always been this way?

    There is certainly something to be said for providing material, whether it be writing, music or otherwise that reaches out and finds a foothold amongst hundreds of thousands of people, but what is it about them that causes that?

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  4. To build off of what Kieran said, The Hunger Games trilogy, while widely successful, is not inherently creative. Suzanne Collins uses a "formula" while writing that almost nearly ensures her success. She creates a strong, female protagonist - note that her appearance is never accurately described - who must struggle to break free from the bindings of her society. During this struggle she partakes in a love triangle between two male characters both vying for her attention - Peeta and Gale. I know many artisits and writers who are widely successful, but I don't think that their success is a indicator for creativity.

    To digress, Collins masterfully creates a strong, but ambiguous character. But leaving the character's appearance up to the imagination and removing as much of the character's independent dialogue as possible, Collins creates a empty shell protagonist that the reader can easily step into. Stephanie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, is equally as guilty as Collins. We see evidence of the "empty shell character" by comparing the amount of female fans of both series to the number of male fans. There is a direct correlation between the gender of the protagonist and the gender of the series' fan base.

    It's also worth mentioning that Collins creates a love triangle between her protagonist and two other male characters. Both male characters are "fairy-tale" male counterparts: they are desired by others, they are attractive, honorable, and both fiercely defend their lover's honors. We see this kind of triangle inadvertently in the Harry Potter series.

    So does Collin's series really earn the stamp fo creativity because it is popular? I don't believe it can. Not only does she borrow her creative ideas from other successful works, but she follows a formula for success. These formulas exist everywhere. They exist in music, movies and books. So while her work is insanely popular, it is not inherently creative because it does not offer new ideas and bases itself off of a formula for success in writing.


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