At a Glance

  • The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy about heroine Katniss Everdeen. Katniss lives in a dystopian future where the government of Panem (what was once the United States) forces children to fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games. In the course of the trilogy, Katniss will become the face of the resistance. In this first book, her primary goal is to survive the Hunger Games.
  • Despite the shocking premise of The Hunger Games, the book is less concerned with death or violence than it is with friendship and interpersonal relationships. Emphasis is placed on Katniss's love for her sister Prim and Peeta's love for Katniss, and more attention is given to the bonds that form during the Hunger Games than to the bloodshed.
  • The Hunger Games was marketed as a young adult novel, but it can also be classified as a dystopian science fiction novel. It plays on the traditional tropes of science fiction (untrustworthy governments, advanced technology) to build a narrative that is thrilling, engaging, and human.


Published in 2008, The Hunger Games has met with mostly positive reviews. Critics praise the "perfectly paced" plot, the "memorably complex and fascinating heroine," and the "three-dimensional characters." Although some critics feel Collins's dystopian world fails to "exploit the rich allegorical potential" that comes with her projected future, others find it incredibly "believable" and well-explained, stating that it is perfect for readers who do not often explore the world of dystopian literature. Some critics also have reservations about the writing style being overly simple or expressing "authorial laziness," while others find Collins's simple prose accessible and refreshing. 

Since its release, The Hunger Games has steadily gained in popularity among adults and older children alike. It has garnered several awards, including Best Book of the Year (2008) from Publishers Weekly and Notable Children's Book (2008) from The New York Times.

Controversially marketed as adolescent literature, The Hunger Games has prompted some protest from parents and school groups regarding its violent premise of children fighting to the death. Although its "chilly, bloody and thoroughly horrifying" content matter can be initially off-putting, most reviewers add that the novel is highly engaging, addictive, and capable of garnering significant fan support and zeal that compares to other darker adolescent novels, like the Twilight saga. Also noted is that Collins wrote the novel in such a way that the startling premise is not the main focus; instead, the work celebrates themes of friendship, hope in desperate situations, and unity under oppressive foes. Ultimately, The Hunger Games is an inspiring work with universal themes capable of prompting valuable discussions.