My Thoughts on The Hunger Games

A few weeks ago I finished The Hunger Games trilogy. I promise I won’t give away any spoilers, but I do have a few things to say about this book.

First off, don’t be fooled by the Young Adult label—it’s actually quite mature and is a page-turner at any age and I recommend it to anyone as a great read. The book is set in the future. America has collapsed in war and the country of Panem is divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. In order to keep the power and reinforce its reign over the districts, the extravagant Capitol hosts a “Hunger Games” each year where two teenagers from each district are selected by lottery to fight to the death. It is not just a way for the Capitol to remain in power, but it is a form of entertainment to them. They turn it into a sport, wagering on who will win and adding terrible twists for entertainment.

I was appalled with the plot and immediately hated the Capitol. And then, as I began to meet characters from the Capitol, I became extremely uncomfortable with how similar it sounded like America.

For example, the Capitol was ignorant and apathetic of the way the districts live in poverty to supply the food, textiles, and coal that the Captiol runs on, similar to the way we are apathetic to the poverty of the countries that supply our resources. They indulged in every luxury and even had a pill that would allow you to eat as much as you wanted, without worry of weight loss. They became immune to watching children killed on TV—we legalize and accept abortion, all in the name of convenience. The Capitol would tweak the weather and elements inside the Hunger Games in order to create more drama and excitement for the viewers. Sounds very similar to reality TV shows today—the more disturbing, dramatic and frightening, the higher the ratings.

How often do we consider the nations who supply us with so many resources? I rarely do. And even though individuals volunteer for reality TV shows, how often are these people exploited and used by producers, just for a good laugh? How often do we consider the lives of the babies we kill in abortions? Are we so consumed with our own cushy interests that we exploit others, all in the name of entertainment and luxury?

I don’t mean to get political or controversial, and I don’t mean to say that we are turning into the Capitol–democracy is too engrained in our nature. All I know is as I was reading, I suddenly became very embarrassed by the similarities.

Has anyone else read the Hunger Games series? What did you think about the book?

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  • I read the first two books, but I haven’t made it all the way through the third. I’m kind of a sissy when it comes to book series: I kind of don’t want them to end. :-)

    Even so, I think I need to finish the book, just to see how it ends up.

    I think there’s definitely a connection between the Hunger Games and modern America, but I saw it more as a commentary on our obsession with reality television. To me, the book asked, just because something is entertaining, should it be watched?

    I, too, was a little thrown by the YA labeling, but these books are definitely worth a read.

  • I have read the series as have my own sons. I am currently reading this to my class of 13 years olds right now. They LOVE it. Even those who ‘hate’ books, LOVE it. The third is not my favourite of the three unfortunately.

  • She got the idea to write the books by flipping through the television and seeing all of our reality shows.
    The books are crazy, and I loved them. I hated how she handled Katniss in the third book, but that’s an entirely different conversation.
    Come over and borrow the Underland Chronicles soon (and see my bookshelves)! You know she describes them as an urban Alice and Wonderland… They’re amazing.

  • @Catherine — I am reading the first Underland book right now! Becca let me borrow them. But I do want to come over soon and see your bookshelves (and hug Ransom.:)

  • I read them all in about a week – and although I was fascinating by them and loved them (weirdly) I was also appalled – these are meant for young adults? I thought the content was wayy to heavy for a 12 year old but I have several teacher friends who encourage their students to read them and I know they are a major hit. Although its heavy, I think its meant to be appalling and thought provoking, and i’m thinking that by targeting the younger generation its in a way educatng them to open their eyes and hopefully they realize some of the similiarities that you did!

  • I read them all in about a week – and although I was fascinating by them and loved them (weirdly) I was also appalled – these are meant for young adults? I thought the content was wayy to heavy for a 12 year old but I have several teacher friends who encourage their students to read them and I know they are a major hit. Although its heavy, I think its meant to be appalling and thought provoking, and i’m thinking that by targeting the younger generation its in a way educatng them to open their eyes and hopefully they realize some of the similiarities that you did!

  • I LOVED these books! I am excited about the movie, but am worried that it won’t stay true to the books. The dystopian society reminded me of the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. The Giver isn’t quite as dark, but the society definitely has some similarities. It is also a bit more young adult friendly than The Hunger Games.

    I recommend this series to everyone I know.

  • I’ve never read this book but it does sound interesting! Society though is filled with exploiting others for our own gain! In business and politics and reality tv! At least we are conscious of it!

  • These actually came recommended to me by my high schoolers when I taught high school English. Now, as a doctoral student, I would definitely teach Hunger Games for a contemporary fiction or dystopian novel course. I think it’s incredibly well written, and the character/plot development in the first book are superb.

    Additionally, as you point out, there are intense cultural allusions regarding class inequalities. I think there’s an argument to be made about the capital vs. the districts in regards to American class, not just class on an international level.

    You know, this blog post may have given me an idea for an upcoming assignment… =)

  • I wonder if Suzanne Collins drew some of the same conclusions in finding the inspiration for the book?

    The series definitely went downhill, as they almost inevitably do, and I didn’t like the third book anywhere near as much – but no regrets!

  • Yes, I read the series twice and was totally, totally gripped both times. I found it horrifying and yet I couldn’t stop reading! It actually reminded me of the Romans and the gladiatorial games. I really enjoyed the exploration of the manipulative and exploitative elements of reality TV which is something that has bothered me for a really long time. I also found the descriptions of the crazy Capitol fashions like face tattoos and crazy plastic surgery really thought provoking, really highlighting the madness of the way society tries to conform and follow different fads and fashions.

  • @Shoestring — Yes, it also reminded me of the Roman gladiatorial games as well!

    And I agree with everyone who mentioned that the third was not nearly as good as the first two books. Let’s just hope the movies aren’t horrible!

  • I loved this series. I never realized the likeness between the United States and the capitol, but I can see what you are saying. There was a pretty clear inspiration from the Roman gladiatorial games. Personally, I think that the US is falling into the Roman lifescycle and on the downhill side of things.

    I was more impacted by the effect that the war had on Katniss and the rest of the characters. I also thought there was something to be said determining who you can trust. If you are interested, I did a quick review on my blog too.

    http://uffdaprojects.blogspot.com/2011/02/hunger-games-trilogy-by-suzanne-collins.html

  • Ginna,
    the constant reference to abortions is a disconnect from the story.
    People are starving to death in the story.
    People around the world are now supplying the USA with goods on slave wages. The USA trains people to torture, assassinate and intimidate. A special institution has focused just on Latin American countries since post WWII. Corporations go in after the atrocities and take the land from the people. That’s why we have cheap bananas and cheap clothes. That particular institution used to called SoA, or south of the border – School of Assassins (now WHINSEC)

    We are the ‘Capitol’ of the world. The latest atrocity is the invasion of Iraq. Have you seen the photos of the ‘collateral damage’ since we invaded in 2003? Have you seen what we did to that whole country? Have you thought about what we did to our soldiers? Our soldiers are the “tributes’ – too poor to go to school which are now corporate controlled.
    The ‘Hunger Games’ are only fiction in the USA.