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The Hunger Games trilogy

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The Hunger Games trilogy

The Hunger Games
150 px
Boxed set
Author Suzanne Collins
Country United States
Language English
Genre Adventure
Science fiction
Publisher Scholastic
Published 2008–2010
Media type Print (hardcover)

The Hunger Games trilogy is a series of young adult science-fiction[1] adventure novels by Suzanne Collins. The trilogy consists of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.[2][3][4] The first two books in the series were both New York Times best sellers, and Mockingjay topped all US bestseller lists upon its release.[5][6] 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.[7] The series recently 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.[8] On August 17, 2012, Amazon announced The Hunger Games Trilogy as its top seller, surpassing the record previously held by the Harry Potter series.[9]

Background

The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unspecified future time, in the totalitarian nation of Panem. 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 against the Capitol wherein twelve of the districts were defeated and the thirteenth purportedly 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 outdoor arena. The winning tribute and his/her home district is then rewarded with food and supplies. 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.

Structure

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." [10]

Plot overview

The Hunger Games

Main article: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunters for the 74th Hunger Games in place of her younger sister Prim. 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 she is killed. Katniss devises a memorial for Rue 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 suicide attempt, 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.

Catching Fire

Main article: Catching Fire

In Catching Fire, which begins nine 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 quell the rebellion by marrying 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.

Mockingjay

Main article: Mockingjay

Mockingjay centres around the districts' rebellion against the Capitol. It is revealed that District 13 did survive 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. However, she makes conditions that Peeta, Johanna Mason, Annie Cresta, and Enobaria, victims 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. In the novel, it is revealed that Peeta has been 'hijacked' (a form of brainwashing using Tracker Jacker venom) to hate Katniss. He tries to choke her to death upon their reunion. After her healing, Katniss and a team known as the 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. However, 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 aims to do. After a meeting with Snow, Katniss finds out that it was in fact the rebels, led by Coin, who killed Prim as they hijacked a Capitol hovercraft. At Snow's execution, Katniss instead shoots Coin as an act of vengeance for her sister 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. In the end, Katniss's mother and Gale both take jobs in different districts. Katniss and Peeta eventually marry and have a son and a daughter, though it is implied that all is not entirely well.

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.[11]

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.[12]

The first novel in the trilogy was first 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.[13]

Catching Fire was published by Scholastic on September 1, 2009. The film version of the story – also co-produced by Color Force and Lionsgate – is scheduled for release in November 2013.[14]

Mockingjay was first published in hardcover by Scholastic on August 24, 2010.

Main characters

  • Katniss Everdeen: The protagonist of the series, Katniss competes in the Hunger Games in each of the first two novels and constantly battles between her feelings for both Peeta and Gale. She becomes the face of the districts' rebellion after she unknowingly defies the Capitol in The Hunger Games.
  • Peeta Mellark: The male tribute from District 12, who has secretly been in love with Katniss since they were children. His love for her is evident throughout the series. In Mockingjay, he is "hijacked" by the Capitol and turned against Katniss, but he recovers.
  • Gale Hawthorne: Katniss' best friend and fellow hunter. Gale is fiercely devoted to Katniss, and their relationship borders on romantic throughout the series. He is two years older than she is, and lost his father in the same mine explosion that killed Katniss' father.
  • Haymitch Abernathy: Katniss and Peeta's drunken friend and mentor for the Games. He won the 50th Hunger Games and was the only living victor from District 12 before Katniss and Peeta won the 74th Hunger Games.
  • Effie Trinket: Katniss and Peeta's escort for the games. Effie, as a citizen of the capitol, dresses very oddly and speaks in a distinct capitol accent. She is very proper and constantly worries about keeping things on schedule. She helps Haymitch send sponsor gifts to Katniss and Peeta during the games.
  • President Snow: The main antagonist of the series, President Snow is the head of the Capitol and all of Panem. Provoked by the survival of two tributes in a single Hunger Games, Snow demands of Peeta and Katniss to prove the reason behind it all was just they were madly in love. When the Capitol is defeated by the rebels, (in the last book) President Snow dies.
  • Primrose Everdeen: Primrose Everdeen, almost always called just "Prim," is Katniss's 12-year-old sister (by Mockingjay, she is 13) who was chosen by lottery to be in the Hunger Games. Katniss volunteers to take her place. Prim is a sweet little child whom everyone loves, and she regularly helps their mother heal the sick. Prim is killed in an explosion late in the third book.
  • Cinna: Katniss's stylist in both of her Hunger Games, he urges her on to become the symbol of the rebellion and designs the dresses that she wears before entering the games, as well as armor she wears in the war. He dies in the second book when Katniss enters the games.

Critical reception

All three books have received positive reception. Praise has focused on the addictive quality of especially the first book,[15] and the action.[16] John Green of The New York Times compared The Hunger Games with Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.[17] Catching Fire was praised for improving upon the first book.[18] Mockingjay was praised for its portrayal of violence,[19] world building, and romantic intrigue.[20]

Criticism has come from the reality TV "death game" theme, which is also present in Battle Royale, Das Millionenspiel, The Running Man, and The Long Walk.[15] Also, the "romantic dithering"[21] and poor love triangle of the second installment was under criticism.[22] The last book, Mockingjay, was criticized by fans of the book and critics for not tying up loose ends.[23] There have also been alleged elements from real-life such as the modern Olympic Games[24] and Joan of Arc[25] in the trilogy.

Film adaptations

Main article: The Hunger Games (film series)

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.[26] Collins adapted the novel for film herself,[26] along with Gary Ross.[27] The film began production in spring 2011 and ended summer 2011.[28] It was released March 23, 2012, with a PG-13 rating.[29][30] Gary Ross directed; the cast includes Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as Gale.[31][32][33] Catching Fire will be released on November 22, 2013, with the main cast signed on to return but director Gary Ross will not return.[34][35] In April 2012, the director's position was offered to Francis Lawrence.[36] Lawrence will also be directing Mockingjay, which has been split into two parts.[37]

References

External links

  • The U.S. Scholastic Website
  • The U.K. Scholastic Website
  • The Hunger Games Wiki

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