The Hunger Games
|Genre||Adventure, Science fiction, Drama, Action|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|No. of books||3|
The Hunger Games is a series of three adventure novels written by the American author Suzanne Collins. The series is set in The Hunger Games universe, and follows young characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark as they battle through a deadly battle royal and face the results of their every action.
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, with the film adaptation of Mockingjay split into two parts, the second of which set to be released on November 20, 2015. Soundtracks have also been released for each film. The first two books in the series were both New York Times best sellers, and Mockingjay topped all US bestseller lists upon its release. 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.
The Hunger Games universe is a dystopia set in "Panem", a country consisting of the wealthy Capitol and twelve districts in varying states of poverty. Every year, children are chosen to participate in a compulsory annual televised death match called The Hunger Games.
The novels were all well received. In August 2012 the series ranked second, bettered only by Harry Potter, in NPR's poll of the top 100 teen novels, which asked voters to choose their favorite young adult books. On August 17, 2012, Amazon announced The Hunger Games trilogy as its top seller, surpassing the record previously held by the Harry Potter series. As of 2014[update], 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.
The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unspecified future time in a dystopian post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, in the ruins of North America. The country consists of the wealthy Capitol located in the Rocky Mountains and twelve (formerly thirteen) poorer districts ruled by the Capitol. The Capitol is lavishly rich and technologically advanced but the twelve districts are in varying states of poverty – the trilogy's narrator and protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, lives in District 12, the poorest region of Panem, formerly known as Appalachia, where people regularly die of starvation. As punishment for a past rebellion (called "The Dark Days") against the Capitol wherein twelve of the districts were defeated and the thirteenth supposedly destroyed, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are selected by lottery to participate in the "Hunger Games" on an annual basis. The Games are a televised event with the participants, called "tributes", being forced to fight to the death in a dangerous public arena. The winning tribute and his/her home district is then rewarded with food, supplies, and riches. The purpose of the Hunger Games is to provide entertainment for the Capitol and to serve as a reminder to the Districts of the Capitol's power and lack of remorse.
The Hunger Games
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 participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a boy who has developed a secret crush on Katniss. They are mentored by District 12's only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, who won the Games 24 years earlier and has since assumed a solitary life of alcoholism. Peeta confesses his love for Katniss in a television interview prior to the Games, leading the Capitol to portray Katniss and Peeta as "star-crossed lovers." This revelation surprises Katniss, who harbors feelings for Gale Hawthorne, her friend and hunting partner. Haymitch advises Katniss to play along and feign feelings for Peeta, in order to gain wealthy sponsors who can gift them supplies during the Games. In the arena, Katniss develops an alliance with Rue, a young tribute from District 11, and is emotionally scarred when Rue is killed because she reminds Katniss of her sister. Katniss devises a memorial for Rue by placing flowers over her body as an act of defiance toward the Capitol. More than halfway through the Games, the remaining tributes are alerted to a rule change that allows both tributes from the same district to be declared victors if they are the final two standing. After learning of the change, Katniss and Peeta begin to work as a team. When all of the other tributes are dead and they appear to win the Games together, the rule change is revoked. Katniss leads Peeta in a double suicide attempt to eat poisonous berries known as nightlock, hoping that the change will be reinstated and that they will both be victorious. Their ruse is successful, and both tributes return home victorious. During and after the Games, Katniss develops genuine feelings for Peeta and struggles to balance them with the connection she feels with Gale. When it becomes clear that the Capitol is upset with her defiance, Haymitch encourages Katniss to maintain the "star-crossed lovers" act, without telling Peeta.
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 her 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's disingenuous love of him, but has also been informed of Snow's threats, and promises to help keep up the act to spare the citizens of District 12. They 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 team up with several other tributes, managing 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 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.
Katniss returns home and sees the remains of District 12. Mockingjay centers on the districts' rebellion against the Capitol. It is revealed that District 13 survived The Dark Days by living underground and is led by President Alma Coin. Katniss, after being brought to 13, agrees to become the 'Mockingjay' to recruit more rebels from the districts. She sets conditions that Peeta, Johanna Mason, Annie Cresta, and Enobaria, fellow victors captured by the Capitol, would not be seen as traitors and a condition where Katniss would be able to kill Snow as an act of vengeance if the rebels won. It is revealed that Peeta has been 'hijacked', brainwashed using Tracker Jacker venom, to kill Katniss. He tries to choke her to death upon their reunion. After her healing, Katniss and a team known as the Star Squad, consisting of Gale, Peeta, Finnick, camera crew, and various other soldiers, embark on a mission to go to the Capitol to kill Snow, thus winning the rebellion. Throughout their mission, many members of the Squad die in various ways, including just-married Finnick. Towards the end of the book as Katniss approaches Snow's mansion, she sees a group of Capitol children protecting the entrance to the mansion as a shield and suddenly a Capitol hovercraft drops bombs, killing the children. The rebels send in medics, including Prim. An unexploded bomb goes off killing Prim instantly as soon as she notices her sister. Katniss, also injured, wakes up after being in a coma to hear that the Rebels have won and Snow is awaiting execution, which Katniss will be allowed to carry out. On meeting with Snow, he suggests that it was in fact the rebels, led by Coin, who hijacked the Capitol hovercraft and killed Prim in a move to portray Snow as barbaric. The remaining victors are then asked by Coin to vote on a final Hunger Games, using the children of high ranking Capitol officials (including Snow's granddaughter), in order to punish the Capitol for their crimes against the districts. At Snow's execution, Katniss instead kills Coin and Snow dies by choking on his own blood while laughing. This leads to Katniss's prosecution but she is deemed innocent as the jury believed she was not in a fit mental state. Katniss is sent home to District 12, Katniss's mother and Gale both take jobs in different districts. In the epilogue, Katniss and Peeta remain together, Peeta's love having won out against the venom. The pair have two children, a boy and a girl.
Each book in The Hunger Games trilogy has three sections of nine chapters each. Collins says that 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, as Collins is familiar with this structure. She sees each group of nine chapters as a separate part of the story, and comments that she still calls those divisions "act breaks."
Origins and publishing history
Collins says that she drew inspiration for the series from both classical and contemporary sources. The main classical source of inspiration came from the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. As a punishment for past crimes, Minos forces Athens to sacrifice seven youths and seven maidens to the Minotaur, by whom they are killed in a vast labyrinth. Collins says that even as a child the idea stunned her since "it was just so cruel", as Athens was forced to sacrifice its own children.
Collins also cites the Roman gladiator games. She feels that there are three key elements to create a good game; an all powerful and ruthless government, people forced to fight to the death, and it being a source of popular entertainment.
A contemporary source of inspiration was Collins's recent fascination with reality television programmes. She relates this to the Hunger Games in how they 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 where 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 the first ideas for the series.
The first novel was published on September 14, 2008. On March 17, 2009, Lionsgate announced that it had acquired worldwide distribution rights of the film version of The Hunger Games from the film company Color Force. Soon after the acquisition, Collins began to adapt the screenplay and the two companies later went on to co-produce the film.
Mockingjay was published in hardcover by Scholastic on August 24, 2010. The film version was being split into two parts, both co-produced by Color Force and Lionsgate, Mockingjay - Part 1 which was released on November 21, 2014 and Mockingjay - Part 2 which will be released on November 20, 2015.
All three books have received positive reception. Praise has focused on the addictive quality of especially the first book, and the action. John Green of The New York Times compared The Hunger Games with Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. Catching Fire was praised for improving upon the first book. Mockingjay was praised for its portrayal of violence, world building, and romantic intrigue.
Criticism has come regarding the reality TV "death game" theme, which is also present in The 10th Victim, Battle Royale, Das Millionenspiel, The Running Man, The Long Walk, and Series 7: The Contenders. Also, the "romantic dithering" and poor love triangle of the second installment was under criticism. The last book, Mockingjay, was criticized by fans of the book and critics for not tying up loose ends.
Lionsgate Entertainment acquired worldwide distribution rights to a film adaptation of The Hunger Games, which is produced by Nina Jacobson's Color Force production company. Collins adapted the novel for film herself, along with Gary Ross. The film began production in spring 2011 and ended summer 2011. It was released March 23, 2012, with a PG-13 rating. Gary Ross directed; the cast includes Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as Gale. Catching Fire was released on November 22, 2013, with the main cast signed on to return but director Gary Ross did not return. In April 2012, the director's position was offered to Francis Lawrence. Lawrence also directed Mockingjay, parts 1 and 2.
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.
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