The Hunger Games series has been a memorable part of my childhood, easily securing its place in my top 10 movies of all time. By no means was this trilogy a piece of thought provoking art, rather, it was proof of what YA novels could be. Arguably the first book-to-movie production that didn’t deteriorate in quality as the trilogy progressed, The Hunger Games was one of my personal favourites from the YA era of 2010. The YA era, as I like to call it, was an interesting part of our lives characterized by the release of back to back dystopian movies adapted – rather loosely – from our favourite books. Different from Harry Potter, which is obviously a childhood classic, these movies were often targeted towards teenagers and young adults as the name “YA” implies. The teenage angst, budding romance and almost always present rebellion against society were hallmarks of this time. In addition to The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner were also notable releases of this time.
The Hunger Games, perhaps the most memorable of its time, is unique in that it displays brilliant acting, artistic visuals and consistent displays of conflict that grabs the audience’s attention. Not only do the audience see a progression in the overarching socio-political problems, but they also observe the inner conflict within the characters. The brutality of the Capitol and the need for change in Panem was displayed alongside Katniss’ hesitancy to fight against her oppressors. As the audience, we see an array of internal and external conflicts that must be solved alongside each other. The success of these movies changed the landscape of possibilities – people had realized the limitless potential of contemporary YA novels.
Similar to The Hunger Games, The Divergent Series displays a dystopian world filled with unique characters and plotlines. It contains all the necessary components of YA – angsty teenagers, romance and societal rebellion – but the series ultimately failed to capture its audience in the same way. Although a fun watch, I believe that this series lacks the intricacy in plot showcased by its counterparts. There is a disconnect between each movie that hinders the visual experience.
Another success of this time was The Maze Runner. Much like the other two series, The Maze Runner brings a fascinating world to life. With interesting character dynamics, realistic CGI and some nail-biting action scenes, this series is loved by a variety of different viewers. However, what makes The Maze Runner stand out is the development in plot with each iteration of the series. The world we come to love and accept changes with every movie as the producers reveal a critical piece of information at the end of each movie. This keeps the audience hooked for the entire ride.
Despite their differences, these movies had one thing in common. The Hunger Games, The Divergent Series and The Maze Runner were unique for their time in that they created fascinating worlds and intriguing characters for their audience. People were invested in the lives of these characters and more than willing to sit through many iterations of similar plot lines. These movies were part of a nostalgic era that gave us something to look forward to over the years. They were proof that YA novels are for more than just a niche group of readers, rather they are stories worth telling.