About the Author
Suzanne Collins is an American author and television writer, and most famous for her the Hunger Games books, her first foray into the world of Young Adult fiction. Collins first worked in the world of television writing, especially in programs and shows destined for a young audience. She worked for the children’s channel, Nickelodeon, and was a writer on their hit and Emmy-nominated show Clarissa Explains It All.
She was nominated for the important American Writer’s Guild award for co-writing the special Santa, Baby! It was James Proimos, a children’s book and illustrator, who talked her into branching out into the world of children’s books, and thus her The Underland Chronicles project was born. The series was a success and a New York Times best-seller.
The Hunger Games Book Series
Geek Like Us
Suzanne Collins has described herself as a Greek mythology “geek” and is not shy about expressing her fascination with Ancient Roman and Greek civilizations and mythology. In fact, much of her inspiration for the Hunger Games books is drawn from history, just adapted and teleported into a modern-world setting.
She is also the daughter of a Lieutenant Colonel with the US Air Force, so during her childhood, she had a very direct experience with war. Her father was deployed to Vietnam, and they moved around a lot as a child.
Ties to the Army
Her ties to the Army world creep into her writing too, because war and violence are themes in both of her best-selling series. She has said herself that she especially enjoys the debate surrounding just war and that it was very much a part of her new Hunger Games books.
This Hunger Games books review gives a brief outline of the main themes in the Hunger Games books series, and then also includes a summary of the Hunger Games books, to have a better idea of the events of each one. We also included a list of Hunger Games books and more info in the FAQ section.
It is said that Juvenal, a Roman poet, coined this phrase in a poem where he criticized the fact that a Government could quash any rebellious attitude among its people by giving them bread and circus, i.e. food and entertainment. A full belly and fun times are the cure for any uprising, according to this Roman writer.
It is this premise that Suzanne Collins bases all Hunger Games books on, but she took the Ancient Roman saying and applied it to a dystopian and futuristic setting, mixing in the old with the new.
Sometimes in an unspecified moment in the future, the United States landscape has changed drastically. The country now has a Capitol and 13 Districts. The Capitol is the lavish and rich center of government, ruling over the remaining 13 Districts with an iron fist.
Each District specializes in a different technological and/or industrial field, and there are significant differences between the levels of wealth in each one. Essentially, Collins has created a dystopian world plagued by social and financial inequality, a theme that heavily plays into the set-up for the trilogy. Can you imagine that this series would not be included in our selection of the best post-apocalyptic book series? No? Check it out!
Reality TV Meets Ancient Rome
Collins is said to have been inspired by the tales of gladiator fights in Ancient Rome. The similarities between using people for the entertainment of the masses and modern reality TV jumped out at her when she was flipping through channels one day, and that’s where the Hunger Games books began to take shape.
Suzanne Collins mixed modern televised shows with the cruelty of the deadly fights in the Roman gladiator pits, and voilà, the Hunger Games books were born. To make the entire thing more vicious, in the Capitol the sacrificial lambs are none other than the nation’s own children.
Iron Fist Rule
The theme of a totalitarian Government, its characteristics, and the consequences for a population under such a rule are all explored in depth. The series deals with uprising and revolution. With impoverished, famished regions that have to bend the knee to the mandates of a central government living in the lap of luxury.
Fear is an important factor; the entire Hunger Games are designed as a way to control the population through fear, to remind them that they are being punished, that they can be punished, if the Capitol so wishes it. In addition to that, the ironically named Peacekeepers help make sure everyone stays in the lane the capital has created for them. And who makes sure the Capitol stays fair? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Another big topic the Hunger Games series explores is the role social and financial inequality play in any society. Panem’s entire structure is erected on the fact that while some starve, others have so much to eat they’ve even invented a drink that makes you sick, so you can regurgitate your food, empty your stomach, and keep stuffing your face all night at parties.
In fact, inequality is probably the leading thread throughout all the Hunger Games books, because if it weren’t for the abyss of differences in wealth and comfort in the districts, there would be no reason to start a rebellion.
Suzanne Collins touches on an age-old question – how much inequality are people willing to tolerate before they are ready to risk it all, their life included, to be able to put an end to such a gross injustice?
The author has admitted to being inspired by Ancient Civilizations, and it is easy to see where Panem fits into the mold. These civilizations were typically very hierarchical, had a rigid social structure, and were always based on a big mass of exploited subjects and a small minority at the top, pulling the strings.
The author, Suzanne Collins, admitted in an interview with the New York Times that she had been toying with the idea of writing a piece on just war before the concept came to her. She had explored the limits of war and warfare in her children’s book series, the Underland Chronicles, and it all came together in these young adult books.
What the author tries to explore is the moral issues that underlie war. Is war necessary? If so, when is it possible to determine that it is a moral imperative to wage war on an enemy? When can we speak about a “just war”, one that is ethically justifiable?
Tough questions with even more difficult answers that are laced into the situation of Panem. As the author herself put it, giving the inequality, the authoritarian rulers that treat the people of Panem as slaves, the entire nation is a powder keg, just waiting to be sparked.
The readers are, indirectly, lead into reflecting about whether the citizens of Panem have a right to revolt against their Government, and what the limits to authority are. Where is it necessary to draw the line between obeying the authorities for the sake of stability and order in a community, and when does the community need to take a stand – even if it is violent.
What Is Fair?
And even in war, are there rules? Is all fair in love and war, or do even these fields have lines that cannot be crossed? Katniss Everdeen, the series heroine, will have to do a lot of self-exploring in this sense, especially since she is confronted with the radically different views of the two men she loves most: Gale and Peeta.
As you may have guessed by now, although the Hunger Games book age rating is Young Adult, this series explores enough heavy-weight topics that adults of any age will be drawn to it. In fact, more mature readers will probably be able to see much more depth in these novels and spot important issues that keep coming up in society. Nevertheless, the plot still makes the book one of the best science fiction books for teens, that you can read more about in our article.
The Hunger Games book 1 bears the same title as the whole trilogy. It’s that time of the year throughout Panem’s districts: the nominees for the annual Hunger Games are about to be announced. A boy and a girl, from the ages 12 to 18, will be chosen in each of the 12 Districts in the country. It’s a cursed honor because they know they are being sent to their death. It’s time for the Reaping.
The tributes will be shipped to the Capitol, where they will be stuck in a technologically advanced arena filled with life-threatening dangers. Cameras will be on them 24/7, recording their every move. The entire show will be broadcasted throughout the nation.
Last One Standing
And the rules? They all fight for their lives until only one of them is left standing. Until a victor has been announced, the children will all be forced to kill one another, gladiator-style. The origin of this vicious tradition dates back years. There was an uprising lead by District 13, who tried to revolt against the rule of the Capitol. As punishment for their insubordination, the so-called Hunger Games were organized.
Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, one of the poorest and most industrial Districts, responsible for coal-mining. She is used to being hungry and fighting for her life.
When her little sister’s name is called out as the chosen contestant, a.k.a., the “tribute” for their region, Katniss doesn’t even hesitate – she steps in for her baby sister, confident that she is being sent to her death, but also sure that she will not let her own flesh and blood be slaughtered on national television. Especially since her father died in a coal-mining accident, and now it’s just Katniss, Prim – her sister – and her mother. She’s had enough loss. Katniss is a strong female character and thanks to her, you can also find this book on our list of the best science fiction books with female protagonists.
Katniss’s male counterpart is Peeta – a shy boy she remembers because he once gave her bread when she and her family were starving. Both District 12 contestants are carted off to the Capitol, ready for their big fight.
Once there, they are primed for national TV, giving interviews and drumming up interest for the deadly show in order to get sponsors. Katniss wows spectators with her archery prowess; it’s clear she’s an expert marksman, and that she can work magic with a bow and arrow in her hand.
Everyone Loves a Good Love Story
District 12 provides more than just coal miners with next-level weaponry skills. During the interviews, Peeta will reveal a secret he has kept hidden for years: that all this time he has harbored feelings for the hunting heroine.
As television tends to do, the romantic relationship between the two contenders from the same District will be exploited to get viewer ratings to sky-rocket, and to add some edge to the Games (not that they needed much).
It is possible that Suzanne Collins was trying to make the point with books that nothing is sacred when it comes to television fodder: the irony is hard to miss. Forcing kids to kill each other, but have the viewers’ hearts melt with a puppy love storyline? Savage.
To Kill or Not to Kill
Regardless of Katniss’s own feelings towards Peeta, she is sure of one thing: she will do whatever she has to survive. If that means exploiting the feelings of a love-stricken fellow District dweller, so be it. All’s fair if your life is on the line. And 24 contestants are at war with one another, for the sadistic viewing pleasure of the nation.
Armed with the few weapons the Capitol will put at their disposal in the center of the bubble-shaped Disneyland of horrors in which they are thrust, it’s now up to them to figure out how to get there.
On top of that, the Capitol has introduced an interesting new twist to this year’s edition: since the audience cheers on the two lovebirds, Capitol has announced that if Katniss and Peeta are both the last to live, they will let them both live. A fairy-tale ending made in hell.
When the Hunger Games: Catching Fire book kicks off, Katniss and Peeta are still alive against all odds. They both managed to make it out of the arena, in the first-ever Hunger Game tie.
However, the powers-that-be in the Capitol are disgruntled; they did not enjoy getting tricked into letting two tributes walk because those aren’t the rules – but a good show is a good show, and people can only be pushed so far before they snap.
And it would seem that Panem has snapped. There are mutterings of a rebellion in the works; and wherever they go, the two “lovebirds” are encountering symbols of resistance. A mockingjay sign. A mockingjay song.
Katniss will find out that, unbeknownst to her, she has been the trigger behind it and is somehow fuelling the entire thing. Her act of defiance against the Establishment, the way she managed to put them in a position where he, the very President Snow, was forced to concede, has emboldened and inspired people.
Hungry for More
Of course, President Snow is having none of it, and promptly informs Katniss that she has two choices: either she puts out the fire she has started, or she can watch people that are close to her die and suffer.
It’s a tough choice for Katniss because after what she has seen, she’s not convinced that she wants to extinguish this revolution… After all, why should she be loyal to the people that put a weapon in her hand, and then forced her to kill or be killed?
Bermuda Love Triangle
In the second Hunger Games book, romance plays a much bigger role. Alas, our main characters find themselves thrust into a love triangle that has been, in a sense, orchestrated for the benefit of the TV viewers.
Since Peeta confessed his love for Katniss, and they have both been unofficially voted the country’s Tribute Sweethearts, their relationship has become television fodder. As readers were clued into in The Hunger Games book, Katniss is, first and foremost, a survivor, which is why she is more than ready to act along.
Watching From a Distance
The District 12 tribute that arm-wrestled with the Capitol and won is aware that if she doesn’t play the love-stricken victor, the interest the President and the public has in her will wane.
Where does that leave Gale, though? Gale and Katniss had a relationship, one that blossomed because they took care of each other, based on mutual respect. Can Gale simply stand back and watch the woman he loves fawn over another man, even if he knows that that’s the only way to survive?
And what about Peeta? Peeta’s feelings for Katniss were never an act, they were real all along. The Victory Tour is bound to be excruciating for him, knowing that the woman he loves is simply acting, playing a role, in a sense using his feelings as a shield against the cruelties inflicted by the Capitol.
As they tour all twelve Districts, the tension mounts, the stakes grow higher as President Snow threatens to hurt those they care about if they can’t sell the story, and Peeta and Katniss realize that regardless of romance, they need to stick together to survive. As Hunger Games victors, a bond has been formed between them in the most unusual of circumstances.
Meanwhile, President Snow has had another savagely brilliant idea to make sure the wave of popular resentment doesn’t swell and drown the Capitol with its sheer force.
If the victors of the Hunger Games are fuelling the flames of unrest, why not get rid of the fuel altogether. And so, Snow decides to celebrate the Quarter Quell, a remix of the Hunger Games, except this time, instead of asking each District to please serve up their youngest and most vulnerable, Snow turns his attention to the prior winners of the Hunger Games.
And he has quite the pool to choose from since Katniss and Peeta participated in the 74th edition. That is Snow’s grand plan: cage in all the symbols of resistance, all the strongest survivors in the land, and make sure they do the dirty work of finishing each other off.
No one can be the face of a rebellion if they are six feet under, after all. Every Catching Fire book review can’t stop talking about how awesome the story is. Suzanne Collins shows us more sides to Katniss Everdeen’s personality in the second Hunger Games book. The heroine is, and always was, surly and bad-tempered, and is now dealing with her fair share of post-traumatic stress.
What Was the Price of Living?
She has recurring nightmares. She keeps seeing the faces of the people she killed and those she couldn’t save. Her relationship with Peeta is strained, and not just because of the forced acting; the truth is, everything about Peeta reminds her of the games. Just that one untainted memory, of him giving her bread, remains.
Will Katniss be able to overcome the traumatic events? Especially since, as Haymitch reminded them, now that the Capitol has found a source of distraction and entertainment for the famished Districts in their relationship, they will become the Nation’s show ponies and be trotted out every year.
How can Katniss escape that and become her own person, when the Capitol insist on casting her in a mold she feels so uncomfortable in? We don’t want to spoil everything in our Catching Fire book summary, so let’s find out on your own.
You have just reached the second half of our Hunger Games books summary, so if you are interested in how the story goes on, keep reading our Mockingjay book review.
In the Mockingjay book, Katniss wakes up after having survived the Quarter Quell, but she might as well have died and resurrected in another life – nothing is as it was. The people she thought she knew reveal secrets she had no idea they had. Her home has been destroyed. And her world is at war.
Old District, New District
Katniss will find out about the existence of District 13. The official narrative has been, for decades, that District 13 was wiped off the map after the Dark Days, the days in which District 13 waged a civil war on the Capitol. Their aggressive stunt was what motivated the Hunger Games.
Turns out that, during all this time, District 13 still existed – only underground. The Capitol bombed the District to rubble, but only the parts of it visible from above, and for decades the natives of District 13 have learned how to survive in their sophisticated, military retreat below the surface.
Katniss is taken before Alma Coin, the leader and the brains behind the kindling of the revolution against the Capitol. For years, Alma has been plotting and waiting for the moment to strike and strip the Capitol of its power.
The Face of the Campaign
Every movement needs a leader, and Katniss has already become the unwilling symbol of the Districts’ resistance against the abusive and authoritarian Capitol. She didn’t ask for it, and she doesn’t want it, but she increasingly feels like she doesn’t have much of a choice.
Everyone around her looks to her to give them hope, to be a reminder that they are fighting for a cause that is worthy of all the human lives and sacrifice it is costing. She is the mockingjay, after all. And now that an outright war is brewing, they need her more than ever.
Katniss will agree to play the role, and to play along with the rebel’s propaganda – but she has her demands too. Our heroine is no stranger to acting in front of the cameras, but she will fight for what she wants, even if it means playing the long game to get there.
After the release (and not only then) most of the Mockingjay book reviews praised the book as being an incredible piece to read. So keep reading our summary of the book Mockingjay to learn more.
It’s no coincidence that, during a war, the head of propaganda becomes one of the most strategic positions. People have to be reminded again and again of why they are subjecting themselves to all this pain, to all this loss, to all this suffering. They have to be reminded again of why they are inflicting it on others, too.
The determined leader of District 13, Alma Coin, knows that she needs to feed the rebellion’s fire if she wants to keep the seditious ball rolling. Otherwise, the other Districts will forget who and what they are fighting against, and, tired and defeated, revert back to blindly following the Capitol. As they say, the devil you know…
Hence, why she is so keen to get Katniss on board. Katniss has something that keeps people going, that moves them, that inspires them to stand up for themselves and against their oppressors. And Alma plans to use that because she is focused on the bigger picture: bringing down the Capitol.
The list of people wanting to kill Katniss continues to grow. President Snow is angry that a young girl from a poor District is managing to show him up again and again and consistently manages to slip through his evil grasp.
Now Katniss is missing, protected by the rebels that need her for their cause, but President Snow won’t stop until he sees her dead. If the Quarter Quell didn’t work, he’ll try anything else. And anything means anything, for President Snow has few scruples.
He resorts to the one thing he has in his grasp, which is also Katniss’s greatest weakness: Peeta. The rebels did not manage to sneak him out of the Capitol, so he and the other Tributes that didn’t die in the Quarter Quell are still being held in enemy territory.
Peeta becomes Snow’s indirect torture instrument for Katniss, aware that she knows that he is suffering and she is powerless to stop it, all the while feeling responsible for him. A special kind of hell for someone as proactive as Katniss.
When Katniss does finally find her way back to Peeta, everything will have changed. The Peeta she fought side by side against has been changed and transformed after months of torture and psychological conditioning… We hope that our Hunger Games: Mockingjay book summary made you interested in the series and you are going to enjoy it as much as we do.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins wrote, is a spin-off and prequel to the original Hunger Games trilogy. The events take place almost fifty years before Katniss is reaped as a tribute for District 12, in a setting where Panem is only just starting its horrific tradition of having children kill one another.
The Dark Days are still very much a fresh memory in everyone’s minds, and the dust is still settling from the whiplash it caused. It’s only the 10th edition, and the entire elaborate televised reality show is still in the making. Without a prolonged introduction, let’s now take a look at our Ballad of Songbirds And Snakes review.
A Fresh Set of Eyes
The most interesting aspect of this prequel is that it is told entirely from Coriolanus Snow’s perspective. It is, in a sense, an origin story for the main villain in the Hunger Games books, although it is its very own take on the origin story format.
A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes attempts to introduce the readers into the mind of Panem’s notorious president, how he came to be who he was, and even how he helped shape the Hunger Games’ format.
From Rags to Riches
Coriolanus Snow’s tale is one of having to overcome obstacles, as usual. Obviously not the type of on-the-brink-of-starvation hardships which the citizens of the lesser fortunate Districts could likely tell, but everyone’s reality is different.
Snow’s family has fallen from grace, and it is up to a fresh-faced, determined eighteen-year-old Coriolanus to make sure that their social status is once again elevated to the position it should rightfully hold.
Coriolanus sees the opportunity to put his social-climbing abilities to the test when he is appointed a mentor for one of the tributes, Lucy Gray, from District 12. Coriolanus is not exactly thrilled, because District 12 is very low on the food chain, but he decides it’s his chance to rise to the top again.
So, the young ambitious rich kid will do everything it takes to see Lucy Gray succeed. Of course, as he does what is in his hands to help her, it is inevitable that he starts developing a sincere affection for her. She is, after all, his protégé, a teenager like himself who is having to fight for her life.
Pick Your Battles
In the end, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the tale of how Snow will have to choose what is really important to him in life. He will have to battle with his own conflicted feelings surrounding the games, come face to face with the horror of what they mean, but also decide what he is willing to risk to once again have access to power and riches.
Like all villains, Coriolanus Snow is neither all good, nor is he all bad. He simply makes a series of choices that slowly determine the course of his life and its outcome.
In the Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes we see Suzanne Collin’s vision of her anti-hero, her intimate perspective of the mind of a devious, power-driven dictator. It also contains numerous references to the trilogy, adding information here and there, filling in the story.
In this prequel, the most avid and thorough readers will find hidden gems. Collins has done a great job of explaining the how and why of many of Panem’s characteristics and quirks. The universe is fantastically created, and it’s even better to see the transition, understand its history, and know how Panem ended up being the creation Katniss Everdeen grew up in.
This is a must-read for all true fans of the books in the Hunger Games series, especially for readers who love seeing the world through the morally compromised eyes of a villain. That’s all from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes summary, you can find more information in the FAQ section under the main article. We also recommend our article about the best science fiction fantasy books that includes The Hunger Games as well.
How Many Books Are in the Hunger Games Series?
There are four books in total. Three belong to the original trilogy, and the fourth is actually a prequel to the Hunger Games book.
Who Wrote the Hunger Games Books?
Suzanne Collins, a New York Times best-selling author who also wrote the epic fantasy novels, The Underland Chronicles.
What Is the Order of the Hunger Games Books?
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. The plot is chronological, so it is recommendable to read the Hunger Games books in order.
What Are the Hunger Games Books About?
The books are about a dystopian country named Panem, where there are 12 Districts subjected to the merciless rule of the Capitol, and how one girl’s defiance makes the entire structure tumble.
When Did the Hunger Games Books Come Out?
The first of the trilogy books was published in 2008, and the last book in the trilogy came out in 2010.
What Are the Names of the Hunger Games Books?
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. The prequel to those three is the Ballad of Songbirds and Snake.
How Many Hunger Games Books Are There Going to Be?
As of now, there are four books, and the publishers and author have not confirmed any further books. However, never say never, because authors do have a tendency to go back to stories set in fictional worlds as intricate as that of Panem.
What Are the Hunger Games Books Inspired By?
According to the author, she drew most of her inspiration from Ancient Roman civilization and myths. She combined the brutality of public spectacles, such as the gladiators in the Roman coliseum, with the Greek myth where Minos forced Athens to sacrifice seven maidens to be hunted and killed by the Minotaur in the beast’s labyrinth.
Ancient traditions were packed in the modern format of reality TV programs, where people’s lives are put on display for public entertainment.
Why Do People Like the Hunger Games Books?
Obviously, many factors play into why a book will end up being a success (including the writing), but the Hunger Games books have been immensely popular because of the plot.
It’s a story about surviving in cruel, harsh circumstances, and tells the story of the human spirit’s resilience and desire to fight, even against the bleakest of odds. It gives readers a chance to root for a cause and is told through the eyes of a morally grey character, whose flaws and strengths are human enough to be relatable.
What Age Are the Hunger Games Books Appropriate For?
The Hunger Games books are marketed as young adult, which means they are technically appropriate for teenagers from the ages of 12 to 18. However, the distinction is mainly for marketing purposes, as the books have been wildly popular with the adult audience too because of the intricate world-building and subplots.
How Many Pages Are There in the Hunger Games Books?
The Hunger Games has 374 pages, Catching Fire has 391, and Mockingjay has 390. So, on average each book in the Hunger Games series has about 380 pages. The prequel is slightly longer, with 430 pages.
Depending on how fast you are at reading, you’ll be getting 11 hours of unfettered entertainment per novel.
How Long Did It Take to Write the Hunger Games Books?
The entire series was published in a short span of 3 years, from 2008 to 2010. Obviously, the overall time it took was longer, since Suzanne Collins did a lot of research before getting to work on the first book of the trilogy; she did in-depth research into archery and bow-making, essential for Katniss’s primary skill.
What Books to Read Next If You Like Hunger Games?
If you are a reader who enjoys dystopian fiction, good books to look to would be Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale, for example. The latter is also a good choice if you are intrigued by authoritarian government, and so is Orwell’s 1984.
Lord of the Flies is a clear choice for those who loved the group dynamics and survival aspect of the Hunger Games books.
Why Is The Hunger Games on the Banned Book List?
When it was adapted to film, the Hunger Games books were drawn into the spotlight for questioning. Granted, the book’s plot rests on children being forced to kill one another to survive, it’s easy to see why parents may be upset that their children were reading books about kids being put up for sacrifice by a government that starves them to death.
However, many reasons were cited for banning the books, including violence, anti-family views, satanic views, and sexuality.
Will There Be a 5th Hunger Games Book?
Yes! Scholastic, the publisher, announced that there would be a fifth book. Suzanne Collins is working on another prequel that will take place even further back in the history of Panem, around 64 years before the events of Katniss Everdeen’s life.