The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Study Guide

The Hunger Games is the first novel in a trilogy that also includes Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Together, they are known as the Hunger Games Trilogy. This first novel has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for more than sixty weeks, and was named a New York Times notable book of 2008. It has garnered praise from many other writers, including Stephen King and Stephanie Meyer.

The trilogy has been distinguished by its masterful pastiche of adolescent coming of age tale and bleak dystopia. The first installment was published by Scholastic Press in September of 2008. As the author has stated in several interviews, its influences are many. They include the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, the author's experience with a father in the military, and her perception that, when watching television, the images of reality television and war were intermingling in her mind.

The novel functions as a traditional story and as an exploration of adolescent identity. However, its real success lies in how it intermingles severe social critiques through these common themes. The idea of a country where severe class divisions and brutal injustice to its citizens is masked by vacuous entertainment resonates with our contemporary world, which gives the novel an edge that distinguishes it amongst the many other runaway YA successes. Through the use of a perceptive and intelligent narrator, the novel traces how these influences can shape a young person's mind, and how grotesque the effects can be.

The book is significantly more violent and extreme than many of its competitors in the young adult market. In addition to severe physical and emotional violence, its narrator is refreshingly honest with her reader about the effects of poverty and death. The central conceit – young children are forced to fight one another to the death for the entertainment of their parents – is explored freely in the writing, which helps to explain its wild popularity among adults as well as children.

In spring of 2011, filming started for an adaptation of The Hunger Games, to be released by Lions Gate Entertainment in 2012.