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Book Clubbing

Introduction

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Title

Movie

Author

Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins

Book Trailer

About the Book

Part 1: The Tributes

In the first third of the book, we are introduced to our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. Though she's only a teenager, she's a tough hunter who puts food on her family's table. Her father is dead and she lives with her mother and sister Prim in District 12 in the country of Panem. Every year the Capitol of Panem hosts an event called the Hunger Games where two "tributes" – a boy and a girl – are drafted from each of the twelve districts to be brought to an arena and fight to the death.  The winner’s district gets extra supplies for the upcoming year.  Tributes are drafted through a lottery in District 12 and children get one entry into the lottery per year starting at age 12.  Poorer families can ‘purchase’ needed food and supplies by putting more entries into the lotto.  This year Katniss’ younger sister Prim gets selected and Katniss saves her by using an old rule which allows someone to volunteer for the Hunger Games.  The male tribute for District 12 this year is Peeta, the baker’s son.

After the reaping (that's the tribute selection process), Katniss and Peeta are whisked away to the Capitol to prepare for the Games (and primped for live TV). We meet their support team, which is primarily comprised of Haymitch (a former Hunger Games winner and also a drunk), Effie (their wrangler), and Cinna and Portia (their stylists).

During the opening ceremonies, Cinna and Portia dress Katniss and Peeta in flames and they draw much attention to themselves. During training, Katniss reveals her archery skills to the Gamemakers and scores an amazing 11 out of 12. Peeta gets a lower score and asks to be coached separately. Peeta also announces in an interview that he has a mega crush on Katniss. Is this all just a strategy to gain audience support and sponsors?

Part 2: The Games

At last: Let the Games begin!

All 24 of the tributes are transported to the arena to fight it out. Katniss is on her own at first, but then she discovers that Peeta has teamed up with the Career Tributes – the strong kids from the rich districts in Panem who actually want to go to the Hunger Games. They eventually corner her in a tree, but she drops a tracker jacker nest on them (that's like a genetically mutated killer wasp) and scores a bow and arrow in the process.

After this, Katniss teams up with Rue, a tiny girl from District 11 who reminds her of her sister Prim. The two are able to take out the Career Tributes' food supply, which totally infuriates their leader, Cato. Also, Peeta doesn't appear to be teamed up with them anymore. Where is he? Wounded? Unfortunately, Rue is killed around this time by one of the Career Tributes. Katniss honors her body by covering it in flowers.

After Rue's death, the announcer, wanting to bring back the romance story between Peeta and Katniss, changes the rules of the game: two people from a single district can now win. Before she can stop herself, Katniss calls out Peeta's name.

Part 3: The Victor

Katniss goes hunting for Peeta and eventually finds him. He is wounded and camouflaged in the muddy bank of a stream. She nurses him back to health and realizes that by playing up the romance angle, they can get gifts from sponsors.

Eventually, Katniss and Peeta must face off with Cato, the only other surviving tribute, but before that they are all pursued by wild dogs which are actually genetically mutated killing machines. Finally, Katniss shoots Cato and he falls into the pack. They've won, right? Wrong. An announcer comes back on and says the rules have changed back: only one winner allowed.

Katniss and Peeta can't kill each other, so they make a show of taking poisonous berries in an act of double suicide. Fortunately, the announcer comes back on before they can kill themselves, and says that they win.

Katniss and Peeta keep up the star-crossed lovers routine for the post-games reunion and interview, knowing that this is the only way to keep from being punished by the Capitol for the rebellious trick with the poisonous berries. Eventually Katniss figures out that Peeta really is in love with her – he wasn't acting at all – and he figures out that she wasn't ever in love with him. Oops. As the train pulls into District 12, they put on a happy face for the camera, take each other's hands and step onto the platform.

About the Author

Since 1991, Suzanne Collins has been busy writing for children’s television. She has 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 critically acclaimed Rankin/​Bass Christmas special, Santa, Baby! 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 James Proimos, who talked her into giving children’s books a try.

Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, she was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you’re much more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole and, if you do, you’re not going to find a tea party. What you might find...? Well, that’s the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part fantasy/​war series, The Underland Chronicles.

Her next series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, is an international bestseller.

At present, Suzanne is at work on a picture book with James Proimos.

She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and a pair of feral kittens they adopted from their backyard.

Discussion Questions

  1. How does Katniss feel about the country of Panem? Why does she need to make her face “an indifferent mask” and be careful what she says in public? 2. Describe Katniss’s relationships with Gale, with Prim, and with her mother. How do those relationships define her personality? Why does she say about Peeta, “I feel like I owe him something, and I hate owing people”? How does her early encounter with Peeta affect their relationship after they are chosen as tributes?
  2. How does the fact that the tributes are always on camera affect their behavior from the time they are chosen? Does it make it easier or harder for them to accept their fate? How are the “career tributes” different from the others?
  3. Why are the “tributes” given stylists and dressed so elaborately for the opening ceremony? Does this ceremony remind you of events in our world, either past or present? Compare those ceremonies in real life to the one in the story.
  4. When Peeta declares his love for Katniss in the interview, does he really mean it or did Haymitch create the “star-crossed lovers” story? What does Haymitch mean when he says, “It’s all a big show. It’s all how you’re perceived”? Why do they need to impress sponsors and what are those sponsors looking for when they are watching the Games?
  5. Before the Games start, Peeta tells Katniss, “. . . I want to die as myself . . . I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.” What does this tell you about Peeta? What does he fear more than death? Is he able to stay true to himself during the Games?
  6. Why does Katniss ignore Haymitch’s advice to head directly away from the Cornucopia? Did she do the right thing to fight for equipment? What are the most important skills she has for staying alive? Her knowledge of nature? Her skill with a bow and arrow? Her trapping ability? What qualities of her personality keep her going? Her capacity for love? Her intelligence? Her self-control?
  7. Why does Peeta join with the Career Tributes in the beginning of the Games? What does he hope to gain? Why do they accept him when they start hunting as a group? Why do groups form in the beginning when they know only one of them will be able to survive?
  8. What makes Katniss and Rue trust each other to become partners? What does Katniss gain from this friendship besides companionship? Is Katniss and Rue’s partnership formed for different reasons than the other groups’?
  9. Discuss the ways in which the Gamemakers control the environment and “entertainment” value of the Games. How does it affect the tributes to know they are being manipulated to make the Games more exciting for the gamblers and viewers? Does knowing that she is on live TV make Katniss behave differently than she would otherwise?
  10. When does Katniss first realize that Peeta does care for her and is trying to keep her alive? When does she realize her own feelings for him? Did Haymitch think all along that he could keep them both alive by stressing the love story? Are they actually in love?
  11. What do you think is the cruelest part of the Hunger Games? What kind of people would devise this spectacle for the entertainment of their populace? Can you see parallels between these Games and the society that condones them, and other related events and cultures in the history of the world?
  12. In 1848, Karl Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Discuss this statement as it applies to the society and government of Panem. Do you believe there is any chance to eradicate class struggles in the future?
  13. Reality TV has been a part of the entertainment world since the early days of television (with shows such as Candid Camera and the Miss America Pageant), but in the 21st century there has been a tremendous growth of competitive shows and survival shows. Discuss this phenomenon with respect to The Hunger Games. What other aspects of our popular culture do you see reflected in this story?

(Questions issued by publisher.)

Additional Information

The Hunger Games received many awards and honors.  It was named one of Publishers Weekly's "Best Books of the Year" in 2008 and a The New York Times "Notable Children's Book of 2008". It was the 2009 winner of the Golden Duck Award in the Young Adult Fiction Category.   The Hunger Games was also a "2008 Cybil Winner" for fantasy and science-fiction books along with The Graveyard Book. It is also one of School Library Journal's "Best Books 2008"and a "Booklist Editors' Choice" in 2008.  In 2011, the book won the California Young Reader Medal.  In the 2012 edition of Scholastic's Parent and Child magazine, The Hunger Games was listed as the 33rd-best book for children, with the award for "Most Exciting Ending". The novel is one of the top 5 best selling Kindle books of all time.

Hunger Games was released as a movie in 2012.  The movie was nominated and won many awards: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/awards?ref_=tt_awd