Whenever a new young adult book-to-movie adaptation is about to be released, it is always measured against it’s predecessors and that is often frustrating and a big issue for fans of the books. Of course, these comparisons can be fair because sometimes the stories have certain similarities that would make one draw that conclusion. However, these stories are their own individual piece of work and should be allowed to “stand on their own,” so to speak.
For instance, when The Hunger Games was going to be released, many people claimed that it would be “the new Twilight.” The major issue in that statement is that Twilight and The Hunger Games are two completely different stories that provide readers with extremely different messages. Twilight has messages about love, family, and the importance of relationships, whereas Hunger Games has messages about war, resistance, personal strength, and autonomy. Twilight also heavily focuses on the love triangle and Bella needing to be in a relationship to feel fulfilled and happy. The Hunger Games also has a love triangle, but it is not a main focus of the narrative and Katniss does not need a relationship to be happy or to feel fulfilled. Katniss is almost always confused about her feelings and can be very aloof towards both Gale and Peeta.
Once again, when Divergent was going to be released it was being compared to several of its predecessors such as The Mortal Instruments, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. These comparisons were mainly based on how the film might do in the box office, but it was still also a commentary on the stories. Many people do not support Mortal Instruments because it began as Harry Potter fan fiction and they feel that the story was not very strong. However, the story is still unique and adds another complicated universe to the young adult world. Mortal Instruments’ poor box office performance, followed by several other poor YA box office debuts, made the industry doubt Divergent and the potential it had to do well. Personally, I believe that there should have been no doubt that Divergent would do well as it is a strong and intriguing story and the cast behind it was going to draw audiences in. As Tris says: “You really need to stop underestimating my character.”
Unlike The Mortal Instruments, Twilight, and The Hunger Games there is no love triangle in Divergent and the main romantic relationship is between Tris and Four alone. Yes, Divergent is similar to The Hunger Games in the sense that they are both set in a dystopian world with a corrupt government and there is a strong female protagonist, but that is where the similarities end. Divergent has messages of bravery, selflessness, and not being defined by a system. Tris also has to train, both physically and mentally, to truly become Dauntless and she undergoes a strong character transformation in which she finds who she is a person.
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been measured against A Walk to Remember and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, which is the comparison that inspired this piece to begin with. Seeing an article calling If I Stay “the next The Fault in Our Stars is just too much – neither of the films have even hit theaters yet! It’s getting ridiculous. Especially since If I Stay actually was published before The Fault in Our Stars. All three of these stories are amazing in their own way and, once again, provide the readers with very different messages. The only major similarities between these stories are the personal tragedies and romantic relationships involved.
A Walk to Remember and The Fault in Our Stars both involve cancer and a romantic relationship, yes, but that does not make it the same kind of story. In A Walk to Remember, only Jamie has cancer and Landon tries to make her bucket list come true and supports her through that journey. In The Fault in Our Stars, both Hazel and Augustus have struggled and are struggling with cancer and relate to each other in that way. A Walk to Remember has beautiful messages about accepting love, always being there for your significant other, and staying strong through difficult times. The Fault in Our Stars has equally beautiful messages of not being defined by an illness or disability, accepting reality, living life to the fullest, opening your heart to others, and the importance of friendship.
Saying that If I Stay is going to be the new Fault in Our Stars is like comparing apples and oranges. As I mentioned, yes, they both have personal tragedy and romantic relationships involved. Here in lies the problem, If I Stay involves a car accident, Mia losing her family, and her trying to come out of a coma. Mia has to decide if it is worth it to stay alive after she realizes everything that she has lost. Apart from being in a coma Mia, or anyone else in the story, does not have any major physical disabilities. In The Fault in Our Stars, struggling with physical disabilities is a major part of the story. If I Stay has very unique and interesting messages about, re-defining the meaning of family and staying strong not only for yourself, but for those who love you as well. The Fault in Our Stars shows that it is perfectly acceptable to be afraid and you don’t always have to be stoic when dealing with hardships.
These are just a few examples of the situation that is present in the book-to-movie industry. The messages that the author and the filmmakers are trying to present are often very different. Even though the stories may have similarities and be within the same genre, they should be allowed to stand on their own and should not be measured up to their predecessors.