Tyra Banks’ novel Modelland comes out on September 13. The book is about a fictional world where families push their daughters to compete for the chance to be taken to a place called, well, Modelland. There, the girls learn to become “Intoxibellas,” which are probably a mix of geishas and superheroes. The first chapter is up on Barnes and Noble’s website, and I couldn’t help but notice how many similarities Modelland has with The Hunger Games. That’s a smart move on Tyra’s part, since the Hunger Games trilogy is the biggest thing in Hollywood right now. So where are the overlaps?
The first chapter of Modelland features young and sometimes terrified girls walking up and down a giant runway waiting to see if any of them are chosen. That’s pretty similar to the Reaping that opens the first Hunger Games book, although the outcomes – the person picked at the Reaping is sent to an arena where they kill or get killed by other teenagers – are quite different. The age cutoff for Modelland is thirteen; for the Hunger Games it’s fourteen. [Author's note: the cutoff for the Hunger Games reaping is 12, since Prim is 12 in the first book. Thanks to the commenters who caught that error!] Although we don’t learn much about LaDorno, where Tookie lives, it sounds like a poor, depressed area where a family’s hope for security is their daughter being chosen to go to Modelland and support them. Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games, is from a poverty-stricken area called District 12. Although being chosen for the hunger games means the possibility of death, winning means a free home, a stipend for life, and the ability to take care of family members.
The heroine of Modelland is Tookie de la Creme, who is clearly based on Tyra. Tookie is a perfect saint and is just there to support her sister, Myrracle, who wants to be chosen for Modelland. However, Myrracle is having trouble staying on the runway with all the other girls pushing each other out of the way in a bid to be the last one standing. Tookie goes up to help her sister and (spoiler alert!) gets chosen for Modelland instead. The Reaping scene also features the main character (Katniss) and her sister Prim, but Katniss volunteers to go instead of Prim while Tookie is chosen over her sister.
All the girls walking on the giant runway are hoping to get spotted by The Scouts, who are evidently an alt-reality version of modeling scouts. One of them is described as “a slender, mysterious looking woman in a black metallic jumpsuit.” Another one wears “a bathing suit ensemble that appeared to be made of rocks.” The Scouts say nothing; they simply pull the chosen girl or girls from the runway and disappear. In The Hunger Games, police from The Capitol – which controls all of the dystopic land of Panem – attend the Reaping and monitor the citizens to make sure everyone shows up for the event. Unlike the Scouts, they are not glamorous, and their arrival is not welcomed by anyone in the crowd.
The Hometown Hottie
During the runway show, Tookie is almost driven to distraction by Theophilus Lovelaces, the local hot guy and her crush. He seems unimpressed by the whole process, and Tookie resists the urge to smack-talk the other girls in front of him. Katniss’ best friend in District 12 is the hot older guy Gale Hawthorne, who promises to look after Katniss’ mother and sister while she’s away preparing for the Games. Although I don’t know what happens in the rest of Modelland, something tells me this brief scene isn’t the only time we’ll see Theophilus. As for Gale, he becomes one of the series’ most important characters.
You know what this means? It’s only a matter of time until we see Modelland: The Movie.