The Hunger Games
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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games cover.jpg
A complete set of The Hunger Games trilogy

AuthorSuzanne Collins
CountryUnited States
GenreDystopian, science fiction, drama, action
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
No. of books4

The Hunger Games is a series of young adult dystopian novels written by American novelist Suzanne Collins. The series is set in The Hunger Games universe, and follows young Katniss Everdeen.

The novels in the trilogy are titled The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009), and Mockingjay (2010). The novels have all been developed into films starring Jennifer Lawrence, with the film adaptation of Mockingjay split into two parts. The first two books in the series were both New York Times best sellers, and Mockingjay topped all US bestseller lists upon its release.[1][2] By the time the film adaptation of The Hunger Games was released in 2012, the publisher had reported over 26 million Hunger Games trilogy books in print, including movie tie-in books.[3]

The Hunger Games universe is a dystopia set in Panem, a North American country consisting of the wealthy Capitol and 13 districts in varying states of poverty. Every year, children from the first 12 districts are selected via lottery to participate in a compulsory televised battle royale death match called The Hunger Games.

The novels were all well received. In August 2012, the series ranked second, exceeded only by the Harry Potter series in NPR's poll of the top 100 teen novels, which asked voters to choose their favorite young adult books.[4] On August 17, 2012, Amazon announced The Hunger Games trilogy as its top seller, surpassing the record previously held by the Harry Potter series.[5] As of 2014, the trilogy has sold more than 65 million copies in the U.S. alone (more than 28 million copies of The Hunger Games, more than 19 million copies of Catching Fire, and more than 18 million copies of Mockingjay). The Hunger Games trilogy has been sold into 56 territories in 51 languages to date.[6]

A prequel novel, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, about the early days of Panem and The Hunger Games was released on May 19, 2020.[7]


The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unspecified future time, in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, located in North America.[8] The country consists of a wealthy Capitol city, located in the Rocky Mountains,[9] surrounded by twelve (originally thirteen) poorer districts ruled by the Capitol. The Capitol is lavishly rich and technologically advanced, but the districts are in varying states of poverty. The trilogy's narrator and protagonist Katniss Everdeen, lives in District 12, the poorest region of Panem, located in Appalachia,[9] where people regularly die of starvation. As punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol (called the "Dark Days"), in which District 13 was destroyed, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve remaining districts, between the ages of 12 and 18, are selected by lottery to compete in an annual pageant called the Hunger Games. The Games are a televised event in which the participants, called "tributes", are forced to fight to the death in a dangerous public arena. The winning tribute and his/her home district are then rewarded with food, supplies, and riches. The purposes of the Hunger Games are to provide entertainment for the Capitol and to remind the districts of the Capitol's power and lack of remorse, forgetfulness, and forgiveness for the failed rebellion of the current competitors' ancestors.


Each book in The Hunger Games trilogy has three sections of nine chapters each. Collins has said this format comes from her playwriting background, which taught her to write in a three-act structure; her previous series, The Underland Chronicles, was written in the same way. She sees each group of nine chapters as a separate part of the story, and comments still call those divisions "act breaks".[10]


Collins says she drew inspiration for the series from both classical and contemporary sources. Her main classical source of inspiration is the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, in which, as a punishment for past crimes, Minos forces Athens to sacrifice seven youths and seven maidens to the Minotaur, which kills them in a vast labyrinth. Collins says that even as a child, she was stunned by the idea since "it was just so cruel" to force Athens to sacrifice its own children.

Collins also cites as a classical inspiration the Roman gladiator games. She feels three key elements create a good game: an all powerful and ruthless government, people forced to fight to the death, and the game's role as a source of popular entertainment.[11]

A contemporary source of inspiration was Collins' recent fascination with reality television programs. She says they are like The Hunger Games because the Games are not just entertainment but also a reminder to the districts of their rebellion. On a tired night, Collins says that while she was channel-surfing the television, she saw people competing for some prize and then saw footage of the Iraq War. She described how the two combined in an "unsettling way" to create her first ideas for the series.[12]



The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is the first book in the series and was released on September 14, 2008.

The Hunger Games follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in place of her younger sister Primrose Everdeen. Also selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark. They are mentored by their district's only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, who won 24 years earlier and has since led a solitary life of alcoholism.

Peeta confesses his longtime secret love for Katniss in a televised interview prior to the Games. This revelation stuns Katniss, who harbors feelings for Gale Hawthorne, her friend and hunting partner. Haymitch advises her to feign feelings for Peeta in order to gain wealthy sponsors who can provide crucial supplies to the "star-crossed lovers" during the Games.

In the arena, Katniss allies with Rue, a young tribute from District 11 who reminds Katniss of her kid sister. When Rue is killed, Katniss places flowers around her body as an act of defiance toward the Capitol. Then the remaining tributes are alerted to a rule change that allows tributes from the same district to win as a team. Katniss finds a seriously wounded Peeta and nurses him back to health. When all of the other tributes are dead, the rule change is abruptly revoked. With neither willing to kill the other, Katniss comes up with a solution: a double suicide by eating poisonous berries. This forces the authorities to concede just in time to save their lives. During and after the Games, Katniss develops genuine feelings for Peeta and struggles to reconcile them with what she feels for Gale.

Haymitch warns her that the danger is far from over. The authorities are furious at being made fools of, and the only way to try to allay their anger is to pretend that her actions were because of her love for Peeta. On the journey home, Peeta is dismayed to learn of the deception.

Catching Fire

Catching Fire is the second installment in the series, released on September 1, 2009.

In Catching Fire, which begins six months after the conclusion of The Hunger Games, Katniss learns that her defiance in the previous novel has started a chain reaction that has inspired rebellion in the districts. President Snow threatens to harm Katniss' family and friends if she does not help to defuse the unrest in the districts and marry Peeta. Meanwhile, Peeta has become aware of Katniss' disingenuous love for him, but he has also been informed of Snow's threats, so he promises to help keep up the act to spare the citizens of District 12. Katniss and Peeta tour the districts as victors and plan a public wedding. While they follow Snow's orders and keep up the ruse, Katniss inadvertently fuels the rebellion, and the mockingjay pin she wears becomes its symbol. District by district, the citizens of Panem begin to stage uprisings against the Capitol. Snow announces a special 75th edition of the Hunger Games--known as the Quarter Quell--in which Katniss and Peeta are forced to compete with other past victors, effectively canceling the wedding. At Haymitch's urging, the pair teams up with several other tributes, and manages to destroy the arena and escape the Games. Katniss is rescued by the rebel forces from District 13, and Gale informs her that the Capitol has destroyed District 12, and captured both Peeta and their District 7 ally, Johanna Mason. Katniss ultimately learns--to her surprise--that she had inadvertently been an integral part of the rebellion all along; her rescue had been jointly planned by Haymitch, Plutarch Heavensbee, and Finnick Odair, among others. After some hesitation Katniss joins the rebels.


Mockingjay, the third and final book in The Hunger Games series, was released on August 24, 2010.

Most of the districts have rebelled against the Capitol, led by District 13 and its President Alma Coin. The Capitol lied about the district being destroyed in the Dark Days. After a Mexican standoff with the Capitol, the District 13 residents took to living underground and rebuilding their strength. The District 12 survivors find shelter with them. Katniss, after seeing first-hand the destruction wrought on her district, agrees to become the "Mockingjay", the symbol of the rebellion. She sets conditions, however. Peeta, Johanna Mason, Annie Cresta, and Enobaria, fellow Games victors captured by the Capitol, are to be granted immunity. Katniss also demands the privilege of killing Snow, but Coin only agrees to flip for the honor.

For her sake, a rescue mission is mounted that succeeds in rescuing Peeta, Johanna and Annie. However, Peeta has been brainwashed to kill Katniss, and he tries to choke her to death upon their reunion. He undergoes experimental treatment to try to cure him.

After she recovers, Katniss and a team known as the Star Squad, composed of Gale, Peeta, Finnick, a camera crew, and various other soldiers, are assigned to film propaganda in relatively quiet combat zones. Katniss, however, decides to go to the Capitol to kill Snow, pretending that Coin gave her that mission. Most of the squad are killed along the way, including recently married Finnick. As Katniss approaches Snow's mansion, she sees a group of Capitol children surrounding it as human shields. Suddenly a hovercraft drops silver parachutes on the children, who reach for them, hoping they bear food. Some of the parachutes explode, creating carnage. The advancing rebels send in medics, including Prim. Then the rest of the parachutes blow up, killing Prim, just as she spots her sister.

Later, Katniss, also injured, awakens from a coma to learn that the rebels have won, and Snow is awaiting execution at her hands. When she meets Snow by chance, he claims that it was Coin who secretly ordered the bombings in order to strip away the support of his remaining followers. Coin then asks the surviving victors to vote on a final Hunger Games, involving the children of high-ranking Capitol officials (including Snow's granddaughter). Katniss and Haymitch cast the deciding votes in favor of the scheme. However, at what is supposed to be Snow's execution, Katniss instead kills Coin with her bow. Snow laughs, then dies.

Katniss is tried, but the jury believes she was mentally unfit, and she is sent home to District 12. Both Katniss' mother and Gale take jobs in other districts. Peeta regains his sanity. Katniss settles down with him, and after many years of persuasion by him, she finally agrees to have children. They have a girl and then a boy.


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Set 64 years before The Hunger Games events, it tells the story of the 'Dark Days' which led to the failed rebellion in Panem. Collins stated that the book would explore the 10 years after the end of the war where the people of Panem try to get back on their feet and figure out how to go on within their new reality.

The book was released on May 19, 2020.[13][14]


Major themes of the novels include distrust of authority (of adults and the government), and feminism.[15] Social inequality, unaccountable governance and violence against children have also been suggested as prominent themes. "In the world of the 'Hunger Games', the Capitol lives a life of extravagant wealth and consumption. Meanwhile, out in the 'districts', millions of people work dangerous jobs with low pay. As the Capitol wallows in excess, the districts can barely afford to feed their children."[16] Author Suzanne Collins also mentions the themes of "just war", gladiatorial combat and hunger.[17] War as a result of climate disaster, and the power and illusions of television have also been cited as themes.[18] Others have mentioned revolution and rebellion as themes. "Although it's... aimed at young adults, it presents potentially quite subversive ideas of mass revolution, economic sabotage and the populist fight against oligarchy."[19]

Popular culture

Critical reception

All three books have been favorably received. Praise has focused on the addictive quality, especially of the first book,[20] and the action.[21]John Green of The New York Times compared The Hunger Games with Scott Westerfeld's The Uglies series.[22]Catching Fire was praised for improving upon the first book.[23]Mockingjay was praised for its portrayal of violence,[24] world building, and romantic intrigue.[25]

The series received criticism regarding its reality TV "death game" theme being derivative of earlier works, particularly Battle Royale,[26][20] as well as The Running Man, The Long Walk,[20]The 10th Victim,[27] and Series 7: The Contenders.[28] The series was also criticized for the romantic plotline: Rollie Welch of Ohio's The Plain Dealer criticized the characters' lack of resolute behavior,[29] and Jennifer Reese of Entertainment Weekly stated that there was little distinction between Peeta and Gale and the series lacked the "erotic energy" seen in the Twilight series.[30]

J.C. Maçek III of PopMatters stated, "While the film saga does capture the action of The Hunger Games, the novels are most assuredly the heart of the story. They are nothing less than 'The Writer's Cut' of the films themselves."[31] In his review Mike Ruiz argues that The Hunger Games film does not have the first-person narrative that is in the original novel. As a result, Ruiz contends the novel is better than the film.[32]

The last book, Mockingjay, was criticized by Dan Shade of SF Site, who felt that Katniss is a weaker character than her comrades and less resolute in her journey to the Capitol, and that with respect to her vendetta against President Snow, her actions in the finale are inconsistent with her established character.[33]

On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed The Hunger Games on its list of the 100 most influential novels.[34]


Film adaptations

Lionsgate Entertainment acquired worldwide distribution rights to a film adaptation of The Hunger Games, produced by Nina Jacobson's Color Force production company.[35] Collins adapted the novel for film herself,[35] along with director Gary Ross.[36] The cast included Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale.[37][38][39] The first film began production in Spring 2011,[40] and was released in March 2012.[41][42] For Catching Fire, Ross was replaced as director by Francis Lawrence;[43][44][45] the film was released in November 2013. Lawrence then directed Mockingjay, parts 1 and 2,[46] released in November 2014 and November 2015.

There is a film version of the prequel that is in progress with Francis Lawrence as the director.[47]


Influence in Thailand

A gesture (a raised up hand with three middle fingers pressed together) used in The Hunger Games trilogy to express unity with people striving to survive, was used in 2014 by anti-government protestors in Thailand, at least seven of whom were arrested for it.[] It was later used in 2020 Thai protests.[]

See also

  • The Most Dangerous Game, a 1924 short story about a big game hunter who is hunted down by another hunter on an isolated island
  • The Long Walk, a 1979 dystopian novel about deadly contest
  • Battle Royale, a 1999 dystopian novel with a similar premise


  1. ^ Cowles, Gregory (December 27, 2009). "Children's Books". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009.
  2. ^ "Mockingjay Tops All National Bestseller Lists with Sales of More Than 450,000 Copies in its First Week of Publication" (Press release). Scholastic. September 2, 2010. Retrieved 2011.
  3. ^ Springen, Karen (March 22, 2012). "The Hunger Games Franchise: The Odds Seem Ever in Its Favor". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ "Your Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels" (Press release). NPR. August 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  5. ^ Bosman, Julie (August 17, 2012). "Amazon Crowns 'Hunger Games' as Its Top Seller, Surpassing Harry Potter Series". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "'Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' Set for World Premiere in London". TheWrap. Retrieved 2015.
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  8. ^ Collins, Suzanne (2008). The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-439-02348-1.
  9. ^ a b Collins, Suzanne (2008). The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-439-02348-1.
  10. ^ Collins, Suzanne. "Similarities To Underland". Scholastic Canada (Interview: Video). Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ "Video: Classical Inspiration - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins". Scholastic. Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ "Video: Contemporary Inspiration - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins". Scholastic. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ Italie, Hillel (June 17, 2019). "Hunger Games' Prequel Novel Coming in 2020". US News. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ Lyall, Sarah (May 19, 2020). "A 'Hunger Games' Prequel Focuses on an Unlikely Character". New York Times.
  15. ^ Alex Abad-Santos (November 21, 2014). "The Hunger Games, explained". Vox.
  16. ^ Van Jones (November 21, 2014). "'Hunger Games,' a mirror of America's inequality". CNN.
  17. ^ David Levithan (October 18, 2018). "Suzanne Collins Talks About 'The Hunger Games,' the Books and the Movies". New York Times.
  18. ^ Joseph Romm (March 19, 2012). "The Hunger Games: The world after a climate apocalypse, teen fiction style". Grist.
  19. ^ Peter Bloom (December 19, 2014). "Subversive message behind "Hunger Games": rebellion works". Denver Post.
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  23. ^ Zevin, Gabrielle (October 9, 2009). "Constant Craving". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
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  27. ^ Ricky (November 16, 2013). "Essential Viewing for Fans of 'The Hunger Games': Part One". PopOptic. Retrieved 2016.
  28. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (March 13, 2012). "What came before 'The Hunger Games'". Salon. Retrieved 2014.
  29. ^ Welch, Rollie (September 6, 2009). "'Catching Fire' brings back Suzanne Collins's kindhearted killer". The Plain Dealer. Brooklyn, Ohio. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved 2010.
  30. ^ Reese, Jennifer (August 28, 2009). "Catching Fire review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010.
  31. ^ Maçek III, J.C. (June 20, 2016). "'The Hunger Games': The Writer's Cut Really Is Better". PopMatters.
  32. ^ Ruiz, Mike (November 30, 2015). "Which is better? "The Hunger Games" novel or film?". The Retriever.
  33. ^ Shade, Dan (2010). "Mockingjay". SF Site.
  34. ^ "100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. November 5, 2019. Retrieved 2019. The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.
  35. ^ a b Jay A. Fernandez; Borys Kit (March 17, 2009). "Lionsgate picks up 'Hunger Games'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011.
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  37. ^ "The Changing Objective of the American Film Market". Baseline Intel. November 18, 2010. Archived from the original on December 4, 2010. Retrieved 2011.
  38. ^ Joshua L. Weinstein (March 16, 2011). "Exclusive: Jennifer Lawrence Gets Lead Role in 'The Hunger Games'". Retrieved 2011.
  39. ^ Jeff Labrecque (April 4, 2011). "'Hunger Games' casts Peeta and Gale: Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth nab the roles". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011. Lionsgate announced that the trilogy will be made into 4 movies.
  40. ^ Valby, Karen (January 6, 2011). "'Hunger Games' exclusive: Why Gary Ross got the coveted job, and who suggested Megan Fox for the lead role". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011.
  41. ^ Valby, Karen (January 25, 2011). "'The Hunger Games' gets release date". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011.
  42. ^ Hopkinson, Deborah. "Suzanne Collins Interview-Catching Fire". BookPage. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved 2010.
  43. ^ "'Hunger Games' Sequel 'Catching Fire' Nabs Director Francis Lawrence". Access Hollywood. April 20, 2012.
  44. ^ Nikki Finke (April 10, 2012). "Gary Ross Decides NOT to Direct "Hunger Games Two: Catching Fire': Lionsgate In 'Shock''". Deadline. Retrieved 2012.
  45. ^ "9 Untold Secrets of the High Stakes 'Hunger Games'". The Hollywood Reporter. February 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  46. ^ Goldberg, Matt (November 1, 2012). "Exclusive: Francis Lawrence to Direct Remainder of THE HUNGER GAMES Franchise with Two-Part Adaptation of MOCKINGJAY". Collider.
  47. ^ Pastrick, Chris (April 21, 2020). "'Hunger Games' prequel in the works". TCA Regional News.

External links

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