When Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games came out nearly a decade ago, it was a phenomenon. Named one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly, it spent a hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, sold nearly 18 million copies, spawned two sequels, and was turned into a successful movie in 2012.
Collins did more than ensure her own success, however. Ever since J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter books became super-bestsellers in the late 1990s, the venerable genre of young-adult fiction grew to become the largest market for contemporary novels. Pure dystopias were rarely thought appropriate for young teen readers even then—not until the appearance of The Hunger Games somehow established them as a new subgenre. Publishers took Collins’ work as a template for the literary assembly line, and have been flooding the market with one dystopian series after another.