All three books have been favorably received. Praise has focused on the addictive quality, especially of the first book, and the action. John Green of The New York Times compared The Hunger Games with Scott Westerfeld's The Uglies series. Catching Fire was praised for improving upon the first book. Mockingjay was praised for its portrayal of violence, world building, and romantic intrigue.
The series received criticism regarding its reality TV "death game" theme being derivative of earlier works, particularly Battle Royale, as well as The Running Man, The Long Walk, The 10th Victim, and Series 7: The Contenders. The series was also criticized for the romantic plotline: Rollie Welch of Ohio's The Plain Dealer criticized the characters' lack of resolute behavior, and Jennifer Reese of Entertainment Weekly stated that there was little distinction between Peeta and Gale and the series lacked the "erotic energy" seen in the Twilight series.
J.C. Maçek III of PopMatters stated, "While the film saga does capture the action of The Hunger Games, the novels are most assuredly the heart of the story. They are nothing less than 'The Writer’s Cut' of the films themselves." In his review Mike Ruiz argues that The Hunger Games film does not have the first-person narrative that is in the original novel. As a result, Ruiz contends the novel is better than the film.
The last book, Mockingjay, was criticized by Dan Shade of SF Site, who felt that Katniss is a weaker character than her comrades and less resolute in her journey to the Capitol, and that with respect to her vendetta against President Snow, her actions in the finale are inconsistent with her established character.
On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed The Hunger Games on its list of the 100 most influential novels.
- Film adaptations
Lionsgate Entertainment acquired worldwide distribution rights to a film adaptation of The Hunger Games, produced by Nina Jacobson's Color Force production company. Collins adapted the novel for film herself, along with director Gary Ross. The cast included Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale. The first film began production in Spring 2011, and was released in March 2012. For Catching Fire, Ross was replaced as director by Francis Lawrence; the film was released in November 2013. Lawrence then directed Mockingjay, parts 1 and 2, released in November 2014 and November 2015.
There is a film version of the prequel that is in progress with Francis Lawrence as the director.
- Influence in Thailand
A gesture (a raised up hand with three middle fingers pressed together) used in The Hunger Games trilogy to express unity with people striving to survive, was used in 2014 by anti-government protestors in Thailand, at least seven of whom were arrested for it.