The Hunger Games helped to transform the landscape of publishing, convincing a ton of people that young adult novels could be important, serious books. It touched off a huge boom in books for teenagers about dystopian futures, and spawned a hit movie, with more on the way. In many ways, booklovers are living in the world Suzanne Collins built.
And yet, we can’t help wondering: Could The Hunger Games get published, if it were submitted over the transom today?
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[W]e heard a lot of debate over just what you can get away with in a YA novel now — how much violence? How much foul language? Does a romance have to be front and center in a young-adult novel, for it to be commercial? What kinds of characters are people looking for in their YA books?
So we decided to ask some publishing professionals, including some top agents and editors, whether they think Hunger Games would be published if it came down the pike now.
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The main reason why Hunger Games might have a hard time today has nothing to do with violence, politics, or an unlikable protagonist, according to several people. Rather, it’s just because there are too many dystopias out there now.
“Editors are ‘dystopian-ed out,’ and dystopian seems to be the kiss of death right now,” says one agent who prefers not to be quoted by name. The Hunger Games wasn’t by any means the first dystopian YA book, but it did help to spawn a feeding frenzy. “The success of The Hunger Gamescertainly inspired editors to be open to dystopian, and, now that many great (and not so great) dystopian books have been published, they’re not looking for any more.”
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Two things have changed about young adult science fiction and fantasy in the past five years, according to publishing insiders: 1) Everybody is keenly aware that these things are being read by grown-ups, not just teens and tweens. 2) the books have become more like adventure fiction, and maybe a bit less introspective.
Link to the rest at io9