Cristina Hartmann, Lawyer by day, writer by night.
Generally, yes. The Hunger Games series appeals to teenagers and adults alike because of the universal appeal of the themes.
Not all Young Adult books appeal to adults. YA books with themes that attract only to teenagers typically don't become breakout successes like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.
Hunger Games stands out from the pack because it has evocative themes that touch upon our deepest concerns about humanity. I'd go as far to say that Hunger Games is a darkly mature series with teenager characters. That being said, the publishers labeled The Hunger Games as YA because the protagonist is a teenage female. Outside of the YA context, it's harder to sell books with a teenage female protagonist, especially one that doesn't follow the protagonist through her life.
There are many themes that adults would appreciate. Here's a few:
- Totalitarianism -- this book is about how a government forces a large country into submission. From a political point of view, it's very interesting to note the parallels between The Hunger Games universe and our own world.
- Reality Television -- this book also delves into how television, and being televised, affects human behavior. It's simple psychology -- we change our behavior when we know we're being watched by other people.
- Subversion -- it's interesting how this book explores resistance. Different characters subverted the government in different ways, with quite startling results.
Still, this is a book series marketed to teenagers. There are some themes that may not appeal to adults, such as:
- Love triangle -- 'nuff said. As an adult woman (well, in a manner of speaking), I didn't like the immature love-triangle. It wasn't really necessary to advance the story. But, whatever. Teenage romances can be a hard swallow for adults.
- Intense Self-Involvement -- being a teenager is hard. Teenagers are starting on their journey to self-discovery and autonomy. This journey has a nasty side-effect -- intense introspection. That means a seriously self-involved protagonist. It's The Catcher in the Rye syndrome.
- Clunky Pacing and Writing -- this is not quite a "theme" but I've seen this flaw in some YA books. (The first book was beautifully paced, but the other two books -- not as much.) YA authors don't aspire to be David Foster Wallace, but Hunger Games' prose can be a bit choppy at times.
More questions on The Hunger Games:
- What makes The Hunger Games so good?
- How can a book about teenagers killing each other be uplifting?
- If you designed a curriculum to help people to be able to better predict the future, what would you include in your course materials?