If you’ve been following us for a while, you may remember a series of articles that involved pitting authors against each other in an “author fight club” of sorts. Well, it’s back! Please welcome Author Fight Club, take two.
This week we have two well-known dystopian authors taking to the ring. In one corner, we have Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games series and The Underland Chronicles. In the other corner we have Veronica Roth, the author of the Divergent series, the Carve the Mark duology, and Chosen Ones.
The competition is based on three categories. First, we take a look at Who has more fans anyway? which will reoccur each week as we explore author influence and impact. The remaining categories are mystery categories that will change each week. Today, we’ve got Which literary bae is more swoonworthy? and Who has the more f-ed up dystopia?
We don’t talk about Fight Club, so instead we’re going to write about it! Authors…take your positions. And…fight!
ROUND ONE: WHO HAS MORE FANS ANYWAY?
We first take to Goodreads for a look at reader popularity. We’ll start off with Collins’ The Hunger Games.
Since its 2008 release, this book has a little over 6 million ratings, 167,788 reviews, and an overall rating of 4.33 stars. Wow! By Goodreads standards, that’s pretty hard to achieve. Now let’s take a peek at some of the most popular reviews. Interestingly enough, a disturbing amount of these reviews focus solely on their love/hate for the THG movie. Instead of ranting about how movie reviews have no place on a book-rating site, we’re just going to ignore those.
Nataliya’s four-star review says, “Suzanne Collins has ovaries of steel to make us willingly cheer for a teenage girl to kill other children. In a YA book. Two reasons why this book rocks: (a) It is not Twilight, and (b) I really hate reality shows.” Sorry Twilight fans, but I have to agree.
Ariel’s five-star review says, “Absolute solid gold standard. Phenomenal. Don’t let the movies pollute your memories of this book, it is OUTSTANDING.”
Jana’s one-star review says, “This book is very shallow and MTV culture oriented, like a classical example of easy consummated pop-literature; I’m very surprised that it didn’t come with some trash magazine subscription.” Ouch.
Now let’s turn it over to Roth’s Divergent.
Since it’s 2011 release, the book has racked up almost 3 million ratings, 106,985 reviews, and an overall average rating of 4.20. Let’s check out the Goodreads reviews!
Wigs’ two-star review says, “What kind of ridiculous mess…Oh man.” Yikes. Moving on!
Nataliya appears again, this time with a three-star review that says, “Heh. I’m torn now. I eyerolled so much while reading this book that I may have permanently damaged at least some of my cranial nerves. And yet I read it in one sitting, annoyingly and inexplicably entertained. Go figure.”
Kat Kennedy’s five-star review says, “I loved all the characters, especially Tris, for being a hard**s, cold m*********r when other YA protagonists would whither and melt into a gooey puddle of patheticness.” She’s got a point there!
With that out of the way, we’ll turn to awards!
The Hunger Games has too many to list here, but we’ll give you some of the highlights: it’s won the 2008 Cybil Award–Fantasy & Science Fiction, was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2008: Children’s Fiction, and a Kirkus Best Book of 2008. That’s a pretty impressive repertoire!
And Divergent? The book won Goodreads Choice Awards Favorite Book in 2011, was Publisher Weekly’s Best Book of 2011, and the winner of YALSA 2012 Teens’ Top Ten.
With a larger audience, more favorable reviews, and more prestigious awards, I think this round goes to Suzanne Collins. Sorry Roth!
END OF ROUND ONE
COLLINS = 1
ROTH = 0
ROUND TWO: WHICH LITERARY BAE IS MORE SWOONWORTHY?
Roth may be down one, but I think this category is going to be a tough call. Now, I realize that these books go far beyond the romance contained within, but we’re going to have a little fun today anyway dissecting these book’s love interests.
We first turn to Suzanne Collins. Sorry Team Gale-ers, but today we’ll be focusing on Peeta.
His first appearance:
I watch him as he makes his way toward the stage. Medium height, stocky build, ashy blond hair that falls in waves over his forehead. The shock of the moment is registering on his face, you can see his struggle to remain emotionless, but his blue eyes show the alarm I’ve seen so often in prey.
And a couple of our favorite quotes:
Peeta sighs. “Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.” Sounds of sympathy from the crowd. Unrequited love they can relate to. “She have another fellow?” asks Caesar. “I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her,” says Peeta. “So, here’s what you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down then, eh?” says Caesar encouraging-ly. “I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning…won’t help in my case,” says Peeta. “Why ever not?” says Caesar, mystified. Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. “Because…because…she came here with me.”
“I remember everything about you,” says Peeta, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “You’re the one who wasn’t paying attention.”
As lovestruck as Peeta is, his romance with Katniss is more for the cameras than anything. Though this certainly changes as the books progress!
Now let’s take a look at Roth’s Four.
Our first glimpse of him is fairly early on, which we’ll recount for you right now:
‘He’ is the young man attached to the hand I grabbed. He has a spare upper lip and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.
Some of our favorite quotes:
I close my eyes, and hands wrap around my arms, right where they join with the shoulder. [Four] pulls me over the railing and against his chest, gathering me into his arms, easing an arm under my knees. I press my face into his shoulder, and there is a sudden, hollow silence.
“But please, when you see an opportunity…” [Four] presses his hand to my cheek, cold and strong, and tilts my head up so I have to look at him. His eyes glint. They look almost predatory. “Ruin them.”
And now for the first kiss:
For a second his dark eyes are on mine, and he’s quiet. Then he touches my face and leans in close, brushing my lips to his.
Cue the feels.
Peeta is a sweetheart, but Four’s protectiveness over Tris while simultaneously encouraging her to be strong makes our hearts melt just a tad bit more.
END OF ROUND TWO
ROUND THREE: WHO HAS THE MORE F-ED UP DYSTOPIA?
As two of the most iconic dystopian writers in YA, I think it’s only natural we look at just how screwed up their fictional worlds really are.
Collins, you’re up!
The Hunger Games features Panem, made up of a lavish Capitol and its surrounding twelve districts. Some districts (ahem Districts 1 and 2) are notoriously rich, while others (like Katniss’ District 12) struggle to survive. Every year, two people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen are selected from each district to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. To make matters even worse, the Games are broadcast on live TV for the entertainment of others.
During the Games, Katniss has to not only fear for her life 24/7, but must out-survive contestants who have been training for the Games their whole lives. That, combined with the deaths she witnesses, shows just how dark this world is.
But despite the horrors of Panem, there are still parallels to our own reality. The disparities between Katniss’ district—where Katniss hunts for food to survive—and the rich Capitol—where people gorge themselves on food, only to throw it up later—is comparable to the very real disparities between the rich and poor in our own world.
At least we don’t have a President Snow. (Or do we?)
Okay Roth, show us what you’ve got!
In the world of Divergent, society is split up into five factions: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. Every year, the sixteen-year-olds must decide which faction they’ll spend the rest of their lives in. Tris takes a leap of faith and joins Dauntless, surprising her family. Of course, Tris is “divergent,” meaning that she fits the criteria for three factions instead of one. Tris must keep her true identity secret, or fear death.
Divergent’s dystopia is more caught up in the conformity of identities. People are expected to act a certain way depending on their faction, regardless of their true beliefs and personalities. There is little room for diversity, and those declared “factionless” are outcasted and left to starve. As high as the stakes are for Tris to keep her true identity a secret, her struggles pale in comparison to what Katniss must do to survive in The Hunger Games. Besides, what could be darker than teenagers fighting to the death?
Sorry Tris, but I think Katniss’ got you on this one.
END OF ROUND THREE
Collins and Roth both contributed significantly to modern YA. Their books have become household names with the movie adaptations to accompany them, showing just how widespread their popularity is. Unfortunately, there can only be ONE Author Fight Club winner.
With a final punch from Collins, Roth is down! K.O.
With a darker dystopia and a more influential work that inspired a new generation of strong, female heroines, I declare Suzanne Collins this week’s winner.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week’s Author Fight Club, where we invite Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte into the ring!