It’s another The Hunger Games post…or is it?
I may just be biased but I don’t like it when people say that The Hunger Games is just a replica of the better and more original Battle Royale. True, the Japanese story was published and made into a movie first but that doesn’t mean Suzanne Collins copied from Koushun Takami, nor does it mean that it’s the better version.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that The Hunger Games is better than Battle Royale either, most especially because I haven’t read or seen Battle Royale and it wouldn’t be fair of me to choose with just one eye open. All I’m saying is, people can certainly focus on the most shallow of things, and in this case, it’s focusing on the most basic element of these two stories. If that’s all there is, then why not compare The Hunger Games to The Lottery by Shirley Jackson?
I believe that no idea is truly original because we all get our ideas from somewhere, someone, something. What can become original, however, is our interpretation of these already existing and known ideas and the way we present our interpretation to the public.
What I really like with Suzanne Collins’ interpretation is her intricate storytelling and how she’s able to sustain the characteristic tension of the story. All throughout the novels, she’s able to create scenarios that are so elaborately described that you won’t have any trouble imagining what she’s saying and pages that make you want to turn them to get to the next one. Technical writing skill and grammar are one thing, but being an effective storyteller, to be able to touch so many people’s minds and hearts with words, is of a whole ‘nother level.
Most importantly, rather than negatively comparing these two creations, I think readers should try to figure out the insight that these stories evoke. Why do we have dystopian tales and why are they popular, especially these days? Why are stories of teenagers killing each other popular? How are these themes reflected in the real world? What do these stories tell us about our society, about mankind? What lessons can we take from them?
What can we do to make ourselves better?
I don’t think a world like in The Hunger Games or in Battle Royale is impossible. In fact, the scary part is that it’s all very possible. We’re used to central authorities, violence, hunger, wars, suffering, and many other sad societal ills. That’s also why these novels are relevant and resonant.
But isn’t that a problem?
I don’t want to live in a world where humans, especially children, are forced to experience supposedly unimaginable horrors and I’m still holding on to the hope that I (and everyone else, generations after) won’t ever have to.
In the end, these are all stories of humans and our inhumanity. The challenge, I guess, is realizing that and finding a way to regain our humanity and be worthy of the name human.