Monday, March 19, 2012

On What World Do You Belong? Wizarding or Post-Apocalytic World? (An Analysis of the Harry Potter Series and The Hunger Games)

Monday, March 19, 2012
The Hunger Games fever is undeniably reigning over the cinemas and bookstores in the town nowadays. At any moment, at any place, one can surely hear or observe someone or a group/bunch of people busy talking about it in a quite exalting way. Trully, this worldwide hit forged people to become obsess and be hungry for it’s stuff.

However, as this new craze go beyond the range of a typical fad, one can notice various comments. Reactions and comparison made by the public comapring the resemblane and differences between The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

Through selecting reliable and worthy articles online, a list was designed showing some notable points of similarities and differences between the major hit that is striking the heart of every book and movie lover.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a young adult novel written by Suzanne Collins which is firt published on September 14, 2008 by Scholastic in hardcover. It’s film adaptation was co-written and co-produced by Collins herself and directed by Gary Ross. It was first released worldwide on March 23, 2012.

 The Hunger Games takes place after the destruction of North America by some unknown apocalyptic event, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia.

As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol in which a 13th district was destroyed, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (or "tributes") must fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains. The story follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker's son whom Katniss knows from school, who once gave her bread when her family was starving.

Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol where their drunken mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, victor of the 50th Hunger Games, instructs them to watch and learn the talents of the other tributes. They are then publicly displayed to the Capitol audience in a televised session with interviewer Caesar Flickerman. During this time, Peeta reveals on-air his long-time unrequited love for Katniss. Katniss believes this to be a ploy to gain audience support for the Games, which can be crucial for survival, as audience members are encouraged to send gifts like food, medicine, and tools to favored tributes during the Games. The Games begin with 11 of the 24 tributes dying in the first day, while Katniss relies on her well-practiced hunting and outdoor skills to survive. As the games continue, the tribute death toll increases. A few days later, Katniss develops an alliance with Rue, a 12-year-old girl from the agricultural District 11 who reminds Katniss of her sister Prim. The alliance is short-lived: Rue is killed by another tribute. At Rue's request Katniss sings to her, then spreads flowers over her body as a sign of respect--and of disgust towards the Capitol.

Supposedly due to Katniss and Peeta's beloved image in the minds of the audience as "star-crossed lovers", a rule change is announced midway through the Games, stating that two tributes from the same district can win the Hunger Games as a pair. Upon hearing this, Katniss searches for Peeta and eventually finds him wounded. As she nurses him back to health, she acts the part of a young girl falling in love to gain more favor with the audience and, consequently, gifts from her sponsors. When the couple are finally the last two tributes, the Gamemakers reverse the rule change in an attempt to force them into a dramatic finale, where one must kill the other to win. Katniss, knowing that the Gamemakers would rather have two victors than none, retrieves highly poisonous berries known as "nightlock" from her pouch and offers some to Peeta. Upon realizing that Katniss and Peeta intend to commit suicide, the Gamemakers announce that both will be the victors of the 74th Hunger Games.

Although she survives the ordeal in the arena and is treated to a hero's welcome in the Capitol, Katniss is warned by Haymitch that she has now become a political target after defying her society's authoritarian leaders so publicly. Afterwards, Peeta is heartbroken when he learns that Katniss's actions in the arena were part of a calculated ploy to earn sympathy from the audience. However, Katniss is unsure of her own feelings, and realizes that she is dreading the moment when she and Peeta will go their separate ways.

The book and the film tackle issues like poverty, starvation, oppression and the effects of war among others.

The need for resources and starvation that the citizens encounter both in and outside of the arena generated an atmosphere of helplessness that the main characters try to overcome in their fight for survival.  

Film, Movie Review and Controversies
In Stephen King's review, he praised how the books "addictive quality" and also compared it to "shoot-it-if-it-moves videogames in the lobby of the local eightplex; you know it's not real, but you keep plugging in quarters anyway."

However, he stated that there were "displays of authorial laziness that kids will accept more readily than adults" and that the love triangle was standard for the genre. He gave the book an overall B grade. Elizabeth Bird of School Library Journal praised the novel, saying it is "exciting, poignant, thoughtful, and breathtaking by turns". The review also called it one of the best books of 2008. Booklist also gave a positive review, praising the character violence and romance involved in the book. In a review for The New York TimesJohn Green wrote that the novel was "brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced", and that "the considerable strength of the novel comes in Collins's convincingly detailed world-building and her memorably complex and fascinating heroine." However, he also noted that sometimes the book does not realize the allegorical potential that the plot has to offer and that the writing "described the action and little else". 

Kirkus Reviews gave a positive review, praising the action and world-building, but pointed out that "poor copyediting in the first printing will distract careful readers—a crying shame".Time magazine was positive and praised the hypnotic quality of the violence. Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, claims it is the "closest thing to a perfect adventure novel" he has ever read. Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) endorsed the book on her website, saying, "I was so obsessed with this book....The Hunger Games is amazing.

"The Hunger Games has been criticized for its similarities to the 1999 novel Battle Royale. Although Collins maintains that she "had never heard of that book until [her] book was turned in," The New York Times reports that "the parallels are striking enough that Collins’s work has been savaged on the blogosphere as a baldfaced ripoff," but that "there are enough possible sources for the plot line that the two authors might well have hit on the same basic setup independently." King noted that the reality TV "badlands" were similar to Battle Royale, as well as The Running Man and The Long Walk. Green also pointed out that the premise of the novel was "nearly identical" to Battle Royale.

The novel has also been controversial; it ranked in fifth place on the American Library Association's list of most banned books for 2010, the reasons being it was "sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence."

Harry Potter

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novel written by the British writer, J.K Rowling. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, its first of the seven novel was published on 30 June 1997. The initial major publishers of the books were Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom and Scholastic Press in the United States. The books, with the seventh book split into two parts, have been made into an eight-part film series by Warner Bros. Pictures, the highest-grossing film series of all time.

The novels revolve around Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard, living within the ordinary world of non-magical, orMuggle, people. His ability is inborn and such children are invited to attend a school that teaches the necessary skills to succeed in the wizarding world. Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and it is in here where most of the novels' events take place. As Harry develops through his adolescence, he learns to overcome the problems that face him: magical, social and emotional, including ordinary teenage challenges such as friendships and exams, and the greater test of preparing himself for the confrontation that lies ahead.

Each book chronicles one year in Harry's life with the main narrative being set in the years 1991–98. The books also contain many flashbacks, which are frequently experienced by Harry viewing the memories of other characters in a device called a Pensieve.

The environment J. K. Rowling created is completely separate from reality yet intimately connected to it. While the fantasy land of Narnia is an alternative universe and the Lord of the Rings’ Middle-earth a mythic past, the wizarding world of Harry Potter exists in parallel within the real world and this is how Potter's world contains magical elements similar to things in everyday life. Many of its institutions and locations are recognizable, such as London. It comprises a fragmented collection of hidden streets, overlooked and ancient pubs, lonely country manors and secluded castles that remain invisible to the Muggle population.

According to Rowling, a major theme in the series is death: "My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry's parents. There is Voldemort's obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality at any price, the goal of anyone with magic. I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We're all frightened of it."

Academics and journalists have developed many other interpretations of themes in the books, some more complex than others, and some including political subtexts. Themes such as normality, oppression, survival, and overcoming imposing odds have all been considered as prevalent throughout the series. Similarly, the theme of making one's way through adolescence and "going over one's most harrowing ordeals—and thus coming to terms with them" has also been considered. Rowling has stated that the books comprise "a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry" and that also pass on a message to "question authority and... not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth".

While the books could be said to comprise many other themes, such as power/abuse of power, loveprejudice, and free choice, they are, as J. K. Rowling states, "deeply entrenched in the whole plot"; the writer prefers to let themes "grow organically", rather than sitting down and consciously attempting to impart such ideas to her readers. Along the same lines is the ever-present theme of adolescence, in whose depiction Rowling has been purposeful in acknowledging her characters' sexualities and not leaving Harry, as she put it, "stuck in a state of permanent pre-pubescence".Rowling said that, to her, the moral significance of the tales seems "blindingly obvious". The key for her was the choice between what is right and what is easy, "because that ... is how tyranny is started, with people being apathetic and taking the easy route and suddenly finding themselves in deep trouble."

Film, Movie Review and Controversies
 Early in its history, Harry Potter received positive reviews. On publication, the first volume, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, attracted attention from the Scottish newspapers, such as The Scotsman, which said it had "all the makings of a classic", and The Glasgow Herald, which called it "Magic stuff". Soon the English newspapers joined in, with more than one comparing it to Roald Dahl's work: The Mail on Sunday rated it as "the most imaginative debut since Roald Dahl",a view echoed by The Sunday Times ("comparisons to Dahl are, this time, justified"),while The Guardian called it "a richly textured novel given lift-off by an inventive wit".

By the time of the release of the fifth volume, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the books began to receive strong criticism from a number of literary scholars. Yale professor, literary scholar and critic Harold Bloom raised criticisms of the books' literary merits, saying, "Rowling's mind is so governed by clichés and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing." A. S. Byatt authored a New York Times op-ed article calling Rowling's universe a "secondary secondary world, made up of intelligently patchworked derivative motifs from all sorts of children's literature ... written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip". 

Michael Rosen, a novelist and poet, advocated the books were not suited for children, who would be unable to grasp the complex themes. Rosen also stated that "J. K. Rowling is more of an adult writer." The critic Anthony Holden wrote in The Observer on his experience of judging Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the 1999 Whitbread Awards. His overall view of the series was negative—"the Potter saga was essentially patronising, conservative, highly derivative, dispiritingly nostalgic for a bygone Britain", and he speaks of "pedestrian, ungrammatical prose style". Ursula Le Guin said, "I have no great opinion of it. When so many adult critics were carrying on about the 'incredible originality' of the first Harry Potter book, I read it to find out what the fuss was about, and remained somewhat puzzled; it seemed a lively kid's fantasy crossed with a "school novel", good fare for its age group, but stylistically ordinary, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited."

By contrast, author Fay Weldon, while admitting that the series is "not what the poets hoped for", nevertheless goes on to say, "but this is not poetry, it is readable, saleable, everyday, useful prose".The literary critic A. N. Wilson praised the Harry Potter series in The Times, stating: "There are not many writers who have JK’s Dickensian ability to make us turn the pages, to weep—openly, with tears splashing—and a few pages later to laugh, at invariably good jokes ... We have lived through a decade in which we have followed the publication of the liveliest, funniest, scariest and most moving children’s stories ever written".

Charles Taylor of, who is primarily a movie critic, took issue with Byatt's criticisms in particular. While he conceded that she may have "a valid cultural point—a teeny one—about the impulses that drive us to reassuring pop trash and away from the troubling complexities of art", he rejected her claims that the series is lacking in serious literary merit and that it owes its success merely to the childhood reassurances it offers. Taylor stressed the progressively darker tone of the books, shown by the murder of a classmate and close friend and the psychological wounds and social isolation each causes. Taylor also argued that Philosopher's Stone, said to be the most light-hearted of the seven published books, disrupts the childhood reassurances that Byatt claims spur the series' success: the book opens with news of a double murder, for example.

Stephen King called the series "a feat of which only a superior imagination is capable", and declared "Rowling's punning, one-eyebrow-cocked sense of humour" to be "remarkable". However, he wrote that despite the story being "a good one", he is "a little tired of discovering Harry at home with his horrible aunt and uncle", the formulaic beginning of all seven books. King has also joked that "Rowling's never met an adverb she did not like!" He does however predict that Harry Potter "will indeed stand time's test and wind up on a shelf where only the best are kept; I think Harry will take his place with AliceHuckFrodo, and Dorothy and this is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages". 

People’s Commens and Suggestions
By Ο ένας, ο οποίος ονειρευότα
- That is a very hard decision to me! Suzanne Collins did such an amazing job and J.K. Rowling did an amazing job also! I can't pick which one's better though. Tough, very tough decision!! ): 

By Rae *PottWhoviStarGleek*, Primrose
- I'm personally for Harry Potter. While Suzanne started the series out AMAZINGLY, the following books weren't up to par with the first one and there seemed to be several things that appeared to be done on a whim. Nothing TRULY seemed planned out in the latter books, but especially not in Mockingjay.
In Harry Potter, however, everything fits- even Harry not seeing the thestrals at the end of book 4 in the carriages to Hogsmeade Station because JK has said that you only see them when you come to terms with the death of the person that you saw. And many people found, that while the series started out great, the better books were the latter ones (I'm of this opinion myself). And there's so much thought put into every single detail of the story, it's quite brilliant. 

By Kate, Rue
I personally believe Harry Potter is WAY better. It is an incredible series that got so many people to read, not just Harry Potter but other books as well, and it was just so well written and thought out.
The Hunger Games was a good book. I don't think even that one was great, although it was entertaining. Catching Fire was ok. I still haven't read Mockingjay. Even with the gigantic cliffhanger she left you on in Catching Fire, it wasn't enough to make me really want to read Mockingjay, in contrast to Harry Potter, where I read all of them starting with the fifth on the day they came out. I also don't think it had the same effect on people that Harry Potter did-some people read it who don't ordinarily read much, but I don't know of very many people who started reading more because of it.
To be honest, it all comes down to personal opinion. But my opinion is that Harry Potter is by far better. 

By Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
- HARRY POTTER all the way!
There, the only annoying character was Hermione, and she wasn't the main character. It got harder and harder for me to like HUNGER GAMES because I came to despise Katniss, and think she's one of the worst characters I've ever read.
Plus, HARRY POTTER is a way more inventive and creative series. I think Suzanne Collins got popular with her series because it shocked people, not necessarily because it was well-written, nuanced, or especially creative. JK Rowling practically created a new language with all the spells, incantations and so forth.

PS to Rae and Kate - Agree and agree. :D 

By Writersblock55
- I agree, Amelia! :) I like harry potter better too.
 Harry Potter is a classic novel of magic, friendship and the whole good-meets-evil shabang. Since there are so many characters you are sure to like at least one.
The Hunger Games is a good dystopian novel but lacks the amount of characters that you really feel like rooting for (besides Katniss/Peeta, of course).
Both books have elements of suspense and twists/turns but I must say that Harry Potter is the winner! 

By Andrea 
I feel awkward here, since I'm gonna vote Hunger Games. Oh boy. Lol, I mean, Harry Potter just never really appealed to me. When I was younger? Sure. But, it's wizardry. Hunger Games is something that's not really magical at all, which I prefer. Maybe that's why I also chose Twilight over Harry Potter? Lol, werewolves simply make my day. Just saying. :) 


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