Katniss Everdeen and her trusty bow and arrow can no longer fend off Christian Grey and his punishing whips — "Fifty Shades of Grey" has bumped "The Hunger Games" from its #1 perch on USA Today's bestseller list. And it's a contentious battle, to be sure. Seven of the top 10 are dominated by the various series installments by "Grey" author E.L. James and "Hunger Games" author Suzanne Collins.
It probably goes without saying that the content of these two sagas couldn't be more different: "The Hunger Games" is a teen novel chronicling a young heroine's fight for survival in a televised death match against 23 other kids, while "Fifty Shades of Grey" is an erotically charged page-turner detailing the sexcapades of a billionaire and his young paramour. Yet, both have managed to capture the attention of publishers, producers and pop-culture pundits.
While "The Hunger Games" was busy dominating the box office to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, Universal Pictures and Focus Features (perhaps inspired by Lionsgate's success with the book-to-film adaptation) snatched up the film rights to James' buzzy novel for an undisclosed sum. A few weeks later, the English author was named to Time 's 100 Most Influential People in the World list.
Full disclosure: I've been hesitant to pick up "Fifty Shades of Grey" owning to its "Twilight" fanfic roots and "mommy porn" reputation, but as someone who writes about both books and films, I'll eventually need to become familiar with the life and times of Christian Grey — for purely professional reasons, of course. But is there anything in it for "Hunger Games" fans looking for another high-profile novel to devour? I asked a few of Panem's faithful.
"I haven't actually read 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' but I confess that way back in the day, when it was called 'Master of the Universe' and was posted for free online as 'Twilight' fan fiction, I did read it," said Hunger Games Examiner's Sara Gundell. "It is a dirty, dirty story — but hey, sometimes filthy fan fiction is fun to read. And while there is plenty of 'Hunger Games' fan fiction online (and plenty of it is also dirty), I'm not sure 'Fifty Shades of Grey' will appeal to most fans of 'The Hunger Games' based on what attracted them to that series. There isn't really any way to compare the two. They don't have similar themes, and the characters don't share any similar traits. They really are nothing alike. That doesn't mean some 'Hunger Games' fans won't enjoy it, but I can't see it having any sort of universal, crossover appeal. They just don't have anything in common, really."
For MTV News staffer Christina Garibaldi, the saucy series served as a palate cleanser after the death and destruction of the dystopian drama.
"As a reader of both 'The Hunger Games' and 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' I have to admit I'm a huge fan of both," she said. "Both stories have taken their audiences by storm, but keep in mind that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' does skew a little older and to women, while 'Hunger Games' seems to please both male and female readers. Yet, if you are anything like me and enjoy mixing up your reading between love stories and action novels, then pick up both books! You will not be disappointed."
Then there's The Hob's Megan Scott, who says she sees at least one (tongue firmly in cheek) similarity: hunger.
"I have been sucked into the 'Fifty Shades' vortex and am enjoying it immensely," she said. "Anything that is getting a lot of hype and is considered controversial I'll pick up. There really is nothing that really comes to mind that would intrigue an "HG" fan other than the common theme of hunger, but let's face it, Christian Grey's hunger is the different sort."
Consensus: While the two best-selling series share very little in common thematically, odds are in your favor that "Grey" may be as hard to put down as "The Hunger Games."
Have you read or do you plan to read "Fifty Shades of Grey"? Sound off in the comments below and tweet me @amymwilk with your thoughts and suggestions for future columns!
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