The Hunger Games - what are they?

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
The Hunger Games – in which children are forced to fight to the death for a popular TV reality show  – is the latest teen phenomenon.
The Hunger Games is both the name of the first book in a trilogy as well as the film which has just gone on general release.

Told through the eyes of the 16 year old protagonist, Katniss, The Hunger Games is set in a post apocalyptic world where the Capitol holds absolute power over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual, state-sponsored event when each district has to provide children to compete in a televised battle for survival in which there is only one winner.
The contestants, or "tributes", are carefully groomed for their reality TV performance and the audience can send gifts such as food, medicine and tools to their favourite tributes.
Author Suzanne Collins says she got the idea while channel surfing when she switched from a TV reality show to a news report on the invasion of Iraq and the two sets of images "sort of blurred".
Indeed, there's something depressing about that fact it is almost possible to imagine a society inured to such a scenario.
However, it's not as grim (or unsuitable) as it sounds and sets out to deal with questions such as poverty, oppression, independence and survival - and of course, reality TV and the insane desire to sell your soul for a few minutes celebrity.
Here's what my 17 year old daughter, who has, in her time, been an avid Potter fan, an (even bigger) Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials) aficionado and loved the Twilight series, has to say about it:

It is obviously aimed at teenagers a bit younger than me and the writing is not as good as, say, Philip Pullman's or JK Rowling's.
Nevertheless, I couldn't put it down and stayed up very late to finish the book! I always enjoy stories set in other worlds or societies and this one is well thought out and described as are the children's survival techniques. However, the plot itself is rather basic.
What I did like was that the deaths – and of course there are deaths – are not gory or voyeuristic but well-handled. Also, Katniss, despite surviving the ordeal, keeps her integrity throughout the moral dilemmas she has to face.
But although the book is clearly dealing with moral issues, I can't honestly say it made me think about them.

The film, co-written by the author and now on worldwide release, has received glowing reviews, such as "a vision of human life in all its nasty, brutish brevity which demands to be devoured…despite its well-worn ideas and themes, Gary Ross’s provocative, pulse-surgingly tense adaptation couldn’t feel fresher, or timelier." (Robbie Collin, Telegraph film critic.)

Seen the film? Send us your review.

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