"Matched" trilogy:Ally Condy's romance for teens seems to take place in a universe similar to The Giver. In a society where everything from jobs to spouses is assigned rather than chosen, protagonist Cassia has free will forced on her. On teens' 16th birthdays, they are matched with another teen who will eventually become his or her spouse. Cassia is at first thrilled to learn she will be matched with her best friend, until another face flashes before her eyes. Cassia isn't as butt-kicking as Hunger Games' heroine Katniss in the first book, but with the sequel Crossed, out now, and a third, as-yet-untitled book coming in November, there's hope for her yet.
"The Lottery": Shirley Jackson's short story, originally published in The New Yorker in 1948, finds a woman questioning a long-held, brutal tradition in her small town.
"Divergent":Veronica Roth's trilogy is set in a dystopian Chicago separated into five societies, similar to the 12 districts in The Hunger Games. But rather than specializing in an export, each society is represented by a virtue - honesty, selflessness, bravery, peace and intelligence - that each 16-year-old must choose to live in for the rest of their lives. Beatrice Prior must decide between staying loyal to her family or being true to herself. The second book in the series is due in May.
"The Most Dangerous Game": The title of Richard Connell's short story refers to the hunting of man. The concept has been loosely adapted into films several times. Our favorites are the so-bad-they're-good loose modernizations such as "Hard Target" starring Jean Claude Van Damme and "Surviving the Game" starring Ice-T.
"Battle Royale": Finally, this Japanese classic based on the novel by Kinji Fukasaku has made it to DVD and Blu-ray in the States. In an overpopulated future where adults fear youth, a group of teens is sent to an island for three days with water, food and a weapon to kill each other off, one by one. Romances are formed, friendships are betrayed and some of the teens learn the hard way just how much they love a good slaughter.
"Warriors": Set in New York ruled by teen gangs, the titular group is falsely accused of killing a would-be prophet. Rival gangs swear revenge and the Warriors must travel from the Bronx to their home base in Coney Island in this Midnight Movie classic.
"The Running Man"/ "Series 7": One of the more interesting aspects of "The Hunger Games" is the importance of media spin and voyeurism in keeping the games going. Both of these films vary wildly in style and content. The Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring "Running Man" relies more heavily on a speculative future, while "Series 7" is more mockumentary, but both revolve around deadly reality TV shows that transfix the nation. Check out the episode "Bad Wolf," from long-running Brit TV show "Doctor Who" for another excellent example.
"The Selection": The debut book in Kiera Cass' new series doesn't even come out until April 24 (from HarperTeen), but it has piqued our interest. In a future marked by revolution, America Singer is one of 35 girls chosen to vie for the hand of Prince Maxon in high-stakes games. But competing for the hand of a royal means leaving her life (and love for the lower-class Aspen) behind. While that plot sounds intriguing enough, what's really piqued our interest is that the CW has already ordered a pilot of the series, starring Aimee Teegarden (a/k/a Julie Taylor from "Friday Night Lights"). n
Contact Molly Eichel at 215-854-5909 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @mollyeichel. Read her blog posts at www.philly.com/entertainment.