How a literary phenomenon begins
By Morgan on March 19th, 2012
This weekend, Salon’s Laura Miller wrote “The making of a blockbuster,” an in-depth look at the role readers and booksellers have played in making The Hunger Games the literary — and soon to be film — phenomenon it is today. The whole piece is definitely worth the read for fans of the trilogy, penned by Suzanne Collins, but we’ve pulled some of our favorite parts below, too.
Miller first notes that “The Hunger Games franchise, with Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence in the starring role, aims for a spot in a select but very sweet pantheon: movie adaptations of bestselling children’s book series that have become box office juggernauts. The Harry Potter movies set the pattern, and the Twilight films proved that it could be replicated.” And The Hunger Games is certainly a juggernaut; she calls out the editors who were “sucked into the irresistible tractor-beam of Collins’ narrative” and also outlines how the book succeeded at the hardest thing: word-of-mouth bookselling. “Scholastic employees began eagerly passing the manuscript around the office. It was the first stirring of what would become a tidal wave of word of mouth.” (It’s true. I read an advance copy of the first book myself, and was immediately swept up in the feeling that something big was happening.)
Many readers may not realize the amount of work that goes into getting books into their hands, and Miller does a great job highlighting the behind-the-scenes details, including the roles librarians and booksellers play. And all that work, all that passion, leads to this: a phenomenon.
“When The Hunger Games finally reached its intended audience, 12-to-18-year-olds, it proved to be as big a hit as Chittenden [founder of the New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council] and her colleagues had predicted,” Miller says. “Kids, it turned out, loved it just as much as all those adults who have made it their life’s work to discover the books kids will love. (Go figure.)”
And I particularly like Miller’s props to the YA book blogging community: “The Hunger Games also arrived at a moment when many adult readers had turned to YA fiction for their own recreational reading. Several booksellers cite a boom in YA blogs as contributing to spreading the word about the series.” (Thanks, all!)
Check out Miller’s whole piece here. I found it an excellent look back at the book as we all continue counting down to the movie release this weekend!