Introduction to The Hunger Games

After writing the fantasy series The Underland Chronicles, Suzanne Collins departed from the world of fantasy and stepped into a harsh, dystopian creation in The Hunger Games. Published in 2008, The Hunger Games is the first novel in a series and introduces readers to the futuristic dystopian society of Panem, where an overpowering government controls the lives and resources of its citizens in twelve different districts. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, of District 12, is the main character of the story. Each year, as punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol, two young people between the ages of twelve and eighteen from each district are chosen by lottery to fight each other to the death in an arena. The event is called the Hunger Games and is televised for everyone in the Capitol and the districts to see; the winning tribute is given food and a life of ease for themselves and their families, along with presents of food and resources for their district. Katniss ends up volunteering for the role of tribute to the Games after her little sister, Prim, is drawn in the lottery. Peeta, a baker's son whom Katniss knows through school, is also drawn to fight in the Games. Katniss and Peeta are whisked away to the Capitol to fight other young people in the artificial landscape created for the arena. In a twist of events, it is revealed that Peeta is in love with Katniss, as is Gale, a boy back in District 12 whom Katniss hunted with regularly. The love triangle gives added interest to the storyline and to the games themselves as Katniss and all the other tributes fight for their lives.

Although marketed as young adult literature, the conceit of fighting to the death, and the violence of the events that occur in the arena, has resulted in controversy and protest from parents and school groups. On the other hand, the book is popular among both teens and adults alike, who appreciate it for its simple and understandable prose, wry sense of humor, constant suspense, and action-packed plotline. The Hunger Games was met with mostly positive reviews, with some negative commentary on the simplistic style and the lack of complexity that such a dystopian future would merit. Its themes of family, friendship, love, and survival are accessible, and Katniss's strong, pragmatic, yet vulnerable character adds to the story's appeal.

A Brief Biography of Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins (born 1962) is an American author and scriptwriter, best known for her internationally bestselling Hunger Games trilogy. Born in Connecticut in 1962, Collins went on to attend Indiana University, earning a double major in theater and telecommunications. She then earned her MFA from New York University. Her early career was spent working as a scriptwriter for children’s television shows, which gave her insight into pacing and story structure. Her first major published work was the children’s fantasy series The Underland Chronicles, which consisted of five books. The books were well-reviewed and several entries in the series were nominated for awards focused on children’s and middle-grade works. Collins’s follow-up series, The Hunger Games, was targeted at young adults, but it has since transcended that age bracket and become one of the bestselling series of all time. Collins has been praised for her ability to distill themes surrounding war, morality, oppression, revolution, poverty, and starvation into something accessible to all age groups. She later personally adapted the novels for the screen, calling on her history and education in television and scriptwriting.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

The upper age limit for participating in the Hunger Games is eighteen, and the lower age limit is twelve. Every year, there is a ritual in each district called the reaping. During the reaping, all...

Latest answer posted November 16, 2020, 1:28 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Hunger Games

Katniss goes into the woods to hunt to ensure that she, her mother, and her sister have enough to eat. The grim living conditions in District 12 mean that it is only through lawbreaking that...

Latest answer posted November 16, 2020, 11:23 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

In chapter 8, Katniss returns to her room after learning that she has scored an eleven during the skill evaluation. This is particularly surprising to her not only because of the high score, but...

Latest answer posted November 16, 2020, 11:38 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

The lottery system which the Capitol uses to select competitors for the Hunger Games is constructed to directly impact the poor more than the wealthy. Katniss explains in the first chapter that...

Latest answer posted November 15, 2020, 12:27 pm (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

The reason for Gale's name being in the reaping forty-two times relates to the tesserae system. Under normal circumstances, the year a person turns twelve, their name goes into the reaping bowl...

Latest answer posted November 15, 2020, 12:17 pm (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

District 12 is the poorest and smallest district in the Republic of Panem, and it is likely located in the northern part of the Appalachian Mountains. It is the farthest district from the Capitol...

Latest answer posted November 15, 2020, 12:20 pm (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

There are several clues that lead us to believe that District 1 is the richest district in Panem. First, we know that tributes from District 1 are wealthy enough to be well-trained, some of them...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2020, 12:23 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

After Cato's savage death, only Katniss and Peeta are left in the arena. Earlier in the games, the Gamemakers had implemented a change to the rules that would allow there to be two victors instead...

Latest answer posted November 15, 2020, 11:51 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

We learn more about District 7 in Catching Fire than we do in The Hunger Games because Katniss gets to know Johanna Mason, a tribute from District 7. In The Hunger Games, however, we learn early on...

Latest answer posted November 15, 2020, 11:33 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

The reason that Katniss gets eleven out of a possible twelve in her private session with the Gamemakers in the lead-up to the seventy-fourth annual Hunger Games is that she gives them quite a...

Latest answer posted November 14, 2020, 12:16 pm (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

Collin's novel is based in part on Jonathan Swift's ironic essay "A Modest Proposal." In that essay, Swift expresses his anger at the high levels of desperate hunger and poverty in Ireland and the...

Latest answer posted November 14, 2020, 12:08 pm (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

In the first novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss pretends to love Peeta so that the viewing audience has a reason to send them much-needed gifts during the competition. When Katniss was a...

Latest answer posted November 14, 2020, 11:27 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

Buttercup is Prim's cat. That he should have grown to adulthood is certainly no thanks to Prim's older sister, Katniss, who tried to drown Buttercup when he was a kitten. Apparently, Katniss tried...

Latest answer posted November 14, 2020, 11:38 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

Panem, or the Republic of Panem, is a fictional sovereign and federal state which consists of thirteen districts and a capitol city. (While District 13 was supposedly annihilated, it is later...

Latest answer posted November 14, 2020, 12:44 pm (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

There are several important messages inherent in the story of The Hunger Games, and the reader's own sense what is important is linked to the background that they bring to the reading experience....

Latest answer posted November 14, 2020, 11:50 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

As with any kind of young adult literature dealing with challenging themes, the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins has generated its fair share of controversy. Although most adults, both...

Latest answer posted November 13, 2020, 11:52 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

It's fair to say that winning the Hunger Games is not really all it's cracked up to be. Truth be told, it seems to be more trouble than it's worth. Although winning the Games brings with it glory,...

Latest answer posted November 13, 2020, 11:33 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

This question can actually be considered in multiple ways. In one sense, District 12 is poor because it exists in a coal-mining region of what was likely once Appalachia. The poverty of this area...

Latest answer posted November 13, 2020, 10:44 pm (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games have thankfully never actually happened. This novel is a work of dystopian fiction that depicts a tyrannical government that sends children to fight to their deaths as a form of...

Latest answer posted November 13, 2020, 11:45 am (UTC)

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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a teenager living in a dystopian society where children are forced to compete in a physical and mental competition in which they fight to the...

Latest answer posted November 13, 2020, 11:26 am (UTC)

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