There’s one inherent weakness in certain stories about a contest to the death: If the story only has one protagonist, you automatically know who’s going to win. E.G., no-one ever tuned into Highlander: The Series fearing for the life of Duncan MacLeod. It’d be a wasted emotional investment.
In The Hunger Games, the noble and courageous Katniss Everdeen volunteers for such a contest– an annual one– in order to spare the life of her younger sister, selected for the deadly games at the age of twelve.
I have yet to read the books– I read the book after seeing the movie, I get more enjoyment out of both, that way– but as I understand it it’s a trilogy. And there is not a doubt in my mind that Katniss will be the victor of the Hunger Games. She has to be. She’s the protagonist.
The only solution I know of to this kind of narrative challenge, is to make the cast of characters a true ensemble. This is one of the many reasons so many people are engrossed by Game of Thrones. George R. R. Martin has done a phenomenal job of giving us several main characters, all after the same thing: power, which by its nature cannot be shared. He’s also made it clear that most if not all of these figures will eagerly kill the people standing in their way to get it.
This is not a criticism of Hunger Games. I bear neither the series nor the author a shred of malice. It’s just the nature of that kind of story. I’m still going to see it because it looks original, (mostly) suspenseful, action-packed and seems to have an intriguing plot.
I know Katniss will win– but I don’t know who will lose. I don’t know how the games will affect our heroine. I don’t know how those repercussions will affect her loved ones, or her setting.
Those are all things I’m quite looking forward to. Period.