Hunger Games, The by Suzanne Collins

Collins, S. (2010). The Hunger Games. New York, NY: Scholastic Press. 

ISBN-13: 978-0439023528

Genre: Action, Dystopia

Reading level/ interest age: 15+

Plot summary:

Katniss Everdeen lives in a dystopian society divided into twelve districts in an attempt to keep the peace. Every year, two children are chosen from each district to serve as tributes in the Hunger Games. Children’s names are drawn during a ceremony once per year and families often ask children to enter their names in numerous times to receive additional food rations. 

Katniss is shocked when her sister, Primrose, is chosen and decides to volunteer in her place. Katniss leaves shortly afterwards with her fellow tribute, Peeta, on a train for the capitol. Together, they learn about the other competitors and win friends while trying to obtain the skills to make it out as the sole victor.

Once the games begin, Katniss struggles to stay alive and away from the other tributes. Competitors are picked off as the days go by and Katniss realizes the importance of having allies. Peeta saves Katniss from certain death but is injured in the process. They decide to team up and become friends. However, with only one winner, are Peeta and Katniss doomed or can they both find a way to make it out alive?

Reader’s annotation:

Katniss and Peeta are competitors in a game where only one can come out alive. Will their love be enough to save them both?

Information about the author:

“In 1991, Suzanne Collins began her professional career writing for children’s television. She worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. For preschool viewers, she penned multiple stories for the Emmy-nominated Little Bear and Oswald. She also co-wrote the Rankin/​Bass Christmas special, Santa, Baby! with her friend, Peter Bakalian, which was nominated for a WGA Award in Animation. Most recently she was the Head Writer for Scholastic Entertainment’s Clifford’s Puppy Days, and a freelancer on Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! While working on a Kids WB show called Generation O! she met children’s author and illustrator James Proimos, who talked her into giving children’s books a try.

“…The Hunger Games has spent over 300 consecutive weeks to date on The New York Times bestseller list since publication in September 2008, and has also appeared consistently on USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. It has been sold into 56 territories in 51 languages. In 2010 Collins was named to the TIME 100 list as well as the Entertainment Weekly Entertainers of the Year list.

“Lionsgate released a film adaptation of THE HUNGER GAMES on March 23, 2012, directed by Gary Ross who also shared screenplay credit with Suzanne and Billy Ray. It broke multiple box office records and went on to become the 14th highest-grossing North American release of all time on its way to generating nearly $700 million at the worldwide box office. Lionsgate will release the second installment THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE worldwide on November 22, 2013 bringing back stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz along with new cast members Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone and Jeffrey Wright. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael DeBruyn. Lionsgate will release THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 on November 21, 2014 and THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 on November 20, 2015, also directed by Lawrence. All four films are being produced by Nina Jacobson of Color Force and Jon Kilik” (Collins, 2013).

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       Which of the characters would you choose to be allies with?
2.       Would you volunteer in the place of one of your siblings?

Critical evaluation:

Written from first-person perspective, Katniss’ inner thoughts sometimes ramble and become repetitive. However, the story is interesting and refreshingly original. Katniss is also not infatuated with Peeta which is a nice break from young adult novels’ tradition of love triangles. Despite containing scenes of murder, the book is actually uplifting. Katniss’ volunteering to do the games in place of her sister is an amazing show of sibling love and family ties. Katniss is almost too kind hearted with her assistance of Rue and Peeta within the games. The book depicts extreme poverty but the overall theme is kindness towards one another that help the human race prevail.

One issue with the book is the overselling of certain elements. Poverty, the victimization of children in the society, war, and greed are all depicted in excess. As the book contains so many different, clashing elements, it is sometimes hard to follow and understand why these are contained within the book. 

Challenge issues:

·         Murder
·         Violence

Defensive Maneuvers:

·         Have the library’s collection development policy memorized and on hand in case a situation arises.
·         Keep positive reviews on hand to refer to or hand out when needed.
·         If the book has won any awards, mention them to the patron and briefly explain the award.
·         Listen to the patron and practice good customer service skills when communicating. Let the customer know where or if he/she can escalate his/her complaint.
·         When necessary, cite sections of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights or refer to the ALA's Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials.

Why included:

The Hunger Games is a widely popular series that could appeal to both male and female readers. The story is fast paced and an interesting dystopian view of society.


Collins, S. (2013). Biography. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from

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