Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a young adult novel written by Suzanne Collins. It was originally published on September 14, 2008, by Scholastic. It is the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy. It is written in first person and introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where the countries of North America once existed. This is where a government working in a central city called the Capitol holds power. In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of 12 districts for a massive televised battle in which only one person can survive.
The book has been released as a paperback and also an audiobook, which was read by Carolyn McCormick. The Hunger Games has an initial print of 200,000 – twice doubled from the original 50,000. Since its initial release, the novel has been translated into 26 different languages and rights have been sold in 38 countries. The book received mostly positive reviews from major reviewers and authors, such as Stephen King. Hunger Games is the first novel in a trilogy, followed by Catching Fire, published September 1, 2009, and Mockingjay, published August 24, 2010.
Inspiration and origins
Collins says that the idea for The Hunger Games came from channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on another she saw footage of the Iraq War. The two “began to blur in this very unsettling way” and the idea for the book was formed. The Greek myth of Theseus served as inspiration for the nation of Panem in the books, with Collins describing Katniss as a futuristic Theseus. The sense of loss that Collins developed through her father’s service in the Vietnam War also played a role in the story, whose heroine lost her father at eleven years of age, five years before the story begins.
As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol, every year, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by lottery and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event in which the participants, or “tributes,” must fight to the death in a dangerous, outdoor arena, controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains. The story follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, who volunteers for the 74th Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son whom Katniss knows from school and who once gave her bread when her family was starving.
Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol, where their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, a former Hunger Games victor, instructs them to learn about the other tributes. They are then publicly displayed to the Capitol audience. During this time, Peeta reveals on-air his long-time unrequited love for Katniss. Katniss believes this to be a ploy to gain audience support for the Games, which can be crucial for survival, as audience members are encouraged to send gifts like food, medicine, and tools to favored tributes during the Games. The Games begin with eleven of the 24 tributes dying in the first day, while Katniss relies on her well-practiced hunting and outdoor skills to survive. As the games continue, the tribute death toll increases. Days later, Katniss develops a short alliance with Rue, the twelve year-old girl from District 11 who reminds Katniss of her sister Prim. When Rue is killed by another tribute, Katniss shoots him through the side of the neck with one of her arrows and comforts dying Rue. She sings to her, and then spreads flowers all over her body as a sign of distaste towards the Capitol.
Supposedly due to Katniss and Peeta’s beloved image in the minds of the audience as “star-crossed lovers,” a rule change is announced midway through the games, stating that two tributes from the same district can win the Hunger Games as a pair. Upon hearing this, Katniss searches for Peeta and finds him wounded. She nurses him back to health and acts the part of a young girl falling in love to gain more favor with the audience and, consequently, gifts from her sponsors. When the couple are finally the last two tributes, the Gamemakers suddenly reverse the rule change and try to force them into a dramatic finale, where one must kill the other to win. Instead, they both threaten suicide in hope that the Gamemakers would rather have two winners than none. It works and both Katniss and Peeta are declared winners of the 74th Hunger Games.
Though she survives the ordeal in the arena and is treated to a hero’s welcome in the Capitol, Katniss is warned by Haymitch that she has now become a political target after defying her society’s authoritarian leaders so publicly. Afterwards, Peeta is heartbroken to learn that their relationship was at least partially a calculated ploy to earn sympathy from the audience, although Katniss remains unsure of her own feelings. [Source]