Suzanne Collins, “The Hunger Games”

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel written from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen. In this futuristic setting, North America as we know it today has been destroyed. The new, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem is run by a powerful dictatorship. In order to control its citizens, the government holds an annual event called the Hunger Games wherein twelve boys and twelve girls from Panem’s various districts are forced to fight to the death in a televised spectacle. According to Collins, The Hunger Games was written to spark discussion about themes such as severe poverty, starvation, oppression, and the effects of war. The characters, mainly children, are put in extremely morally complex situations and constantly forced to choose between death and self-preservation.

Over 28 million copies of The Hunger Games have been sold since the book was published in 2008. The novel has been translated into 26 different languages and is sold in over 38 territories. Two additional novels have been published in this series: Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010). The novels have been adapted into a popular film series of the same name, starring Jennifer Lawrence. The Hunger Games was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List, the USA Today Bestseller List, the Wall Street Journal Bestseller List, Publishers Weekly Bestsellers List, and many more. Both the books and the movies have won numerous awards and achieved critical acclaim.

Despite its popularity and commercial success, many are frightened by the power this book might have on its readers. For example, in 2014 anti-government protestors in Thailand used a symbol of resistance from the book (a raised hand with three middle fingers pressed together) to express solidarity with people oppressed by government rule. According to news reports, at least seven people were arrested in connection to this event. Critics have also accused The Hunger Games of being anti-ethnic, anti-family, and violent, and of having offensive language, occult/satanic references, and references to overt sexuality. Collins has never directly responded to banning attempts, but has stated that the book raises important themes that should be talked about publicly.

About the Author

Suzanne Collins was born on the tenth of August in 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut. Her and her three siblings, of which she is the youngest, moved quite frequently throughout their childhood. Collins graduated as a Theater Arts major from the Alabama High School of Fine Arts in Birmingham in 1980. In 1985, she completed a B.A. in theater and a B.A. in telecommunications at Indiana University Bloomington. She continued on to New York University Tisch School of the Arts, where she earned her M.F.A in dramatic writing. She is also the author of The Underland Chronicles, a series of five epic fantasy novels. The series involves many topics related to war, including biological warfare, genocide, and military intelligence.

Further Reading