Many of you by now are familiar with The Hunger Games in some shape or form.  It is a trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins which spawned four feature films based on the books.  It is classified as a young adult novel series and set in the dystopian future in Panem.  The book follows heroine Katniss Everdeen as she changes the world she lives in.

The Hunger Games

The Book Series

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games trilogy starts with the first book, The Hunger Games.  It starts out in District 12 and are introduced to the main character, Katniss Everdeen, her family and friends.  The Games are explained and how the dystopian world works.  During the reaping, Katniss’s little sister, Primrose, is selected to be the female tribute from their district.  The odds of this happening was supposed to be very slim as her name was only entered once, while Katniss had several entries into the reaping.  To prevent her sister from potentially being killed in the Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place.  She and the male tribute, Peeta Mellark, are taken to The Capitol.  It is there that the ruling government is located.  They train with tributes from each of the 12 districts as they prepare for the Games.  Once they enter the arena, it is each man or woman for themselves.  Each of the tributes are killed off until it comes down to two: Peeta and Katniss.  Since the Games can only have one winner, it is expected that one of them will kill the other.  In an act of defiance, Katniss gives Peeta some hemlock berries and they prepare to kill themselves to leave the Games without a victor.  The gamemaker interferes and declares that they both win.

The second book in the series is Catching Fire.  It takes place after the 74th Hunger Games where Katniss’s defiance in the arena has started to spark rebellion in the districts.  In an effort to quell the rebellion, the announcement of the 75th Hunger Games puts former victors back into the arena.  The hope of President Snow is that Katniss will be killed during the games and end the rebellion.  As she is the only female victor from District 12, she is selected by default.  The victors use the Capitol citizens’ love of them to try and prevent them from having to return to the arena, but ultimately it doesn’t work and they are sent back in.  The tributes fight, but Haymitch has secured an alliance with some of the victors in order to get Katniss out.  During the Games, Katniss shorts out the barrier to the arena and causing a lot of chaos.  Haymitch, along with the new gamemaker, get Katniss and a few of the tributes out of the arena.  He, however, fails to save Peeta or Johanna from District 7 and they are taken by the Capitol.

The final book in the trilogy is Mockingjay.  It continues the rebellion that started in the second book.  Katniss finds herself in District 13, originally thought destroyed after the first rebellion that started the Games.  District 12 has been destroyed and the other districts are rebelling against the Capitol.  Katniss has become the figurehead of the rebellion and she goes out to the other districts to assist.  While this is going on, they are also trying to figure out a way to save Peeta.  They manage to break him out of the Capitol and get him back to District 13, but it becomes very clear that he has been brainwashed against Katniss.  He undergoes reconditioning as Katniss and Gale continue to help the districts against the Capitol.  Katniss’s team goes into the Capitol and they are joined by Peeta, who is doing better but not fully healed.  After a battle with traps that mimic the Games, the rebels capture President Snow, but not before Katniss loses her sister in the process.  Their plan is to replace President Snow with President Coin, but after a conversation with President Snow, Katniss comes up with her own plan.  Katniss kills President Coin and it is then voted that Commander Paylor become the new leader of Panem.  Katniss is not held responsible for Coin’s death due to “insanity” and goes home to District 12 to rebuild.  Peeta joins her there along with some of the other survivors.  She and Peeta live there and build a family, but both still suffer from the aftereffects of what they went through during the Games and the rebellion.

The Movie Series

The Hunger Games MoviesThe movie series is adapted from the book series with the third and final book split into two separate movies.  The movies do a fairly decent job of presenting the stories in the books, but there were a few subtle things that someone who hadn’t read the books may not have understood.  The biggest thing that stood out to me in the first movie was the three fingers raised as a sign of respect.  While this was implied in the movies, it was never really explained and left the viewer to put that together themselves.  I remember sitting in the movie theatre with my friend and explaining that to her so she would understand the significance of the scene during the reaping.  Most of the minor changes had to do with cutting roles or combining them into another character in order to limit the size of the cast, and for the most part, this was mostly unnoticed in the films.  The films turned out really well, and the decision to split the last book into two movies was probably a much better idea than trying to cram everything that happened into one movie.  The only thing that seems to be lacking was the epilogue in the movie, but I think that has more to do with the limitations of a movie versus a book.  In the end, I would recommend both the books and the movies, but for anyone who hasn’t seen or read either, I recommend starting with the movies in an effort to prevent yourself from constantly thinking “that’s not how they did it in the book”.


The Hunger Games ReviewJennifer Lewis