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Updated: February 14, 2012 
Satisfy your appetite for dark, dystopian romance with Hunger Game

The Hunger Games, the first book in a post-apocalyptic trilogy by author Suzanne Collins, grabbed readers’ attention when it was published in 2008 and hasn’t let go since. Grim and futuristic, it introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a competitor in a fight-to-the-death televised battle that pits teen against teen. The Hunger Games, which was followed by Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010), became a publishing phenomenon that’s been translated into 26 different languages. Next up is a feature film (with a screenplay that’s also written by Collins) scheduled for release next month.

Suzanne CollinsA Conversation with Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games

Curious about the author of The Hunger Games? Learn more about Suzanne Collins, her inspirations and the link between reality television and her books in this interview from Scholastic, Inc. 

Q: You weave action, adventure, mythology, sci-fi, romance and philosophy throughout The Hunger Games. What influenced the creation of The Hunger Games?
A significant influence would have to be the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. The myth tells how in punishment for past deeds, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown in the Labyrinth and devoured by the monstrous Minotaur.

Even as a kid, I could appreciate how ruthless this was. Crete was sending a very clear message: “Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.” And the thing is, it was allowed; the parents sat by powerless to stop it. Theseus, who was the son of the king, volunteered to go. I guess in her own way, Katniss is a futuristic Theseus.

In keeping with the classical roots, I send my tributes into an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, which entails a ruthless government forcing people to fight to the death as popular entertainment. The world of Panem, particularly the Capitol, is loaded with Roman references. Panem itself comes from the expression “Panem et Circenses” which translates into “Bread and Circuses.”

The audiences for both the Roman games and reality TV are almost characters in themselves. They can respond with great enthusiasm or play a role in your elimination.

I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss’s story came to me. One night I’m sitting there flipping around and on one channel there’s a group of young people competing for, I don’t know, money maybe? And on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in a very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.

Q: The Hunger Games is an annual televised event in which one boy and one girl form each of the twelve districts is forced to participate in a fight-to-the-death on live TV. What do you think the appeal of reality television is – to both kids and adults?
Well, they’re often set up as games and, like sporting events, there’s an interest in seeing who wins. The contestants are usually unknown, which makes them relatable. Sometimes they have very talented people performing.

Then there’s the voyeuristic thrill – watching people being humiliated or brought to tears, or suffering physically – which I find very disturbing. There’s also the potential for desensitizing the audience, so that when they see real tragedy playing out on say, the news, it doesn’t have the impact it should.

Q: The Hunger Games tackles issues like severe poverty, starvation, oppression and the effects of war among others. What drew you to such a serious subject matter?
That was probably my dad’s influence. He was career Air Force, a military specialist, a historian and a doctor of political science. When I was a kid, he was gone for a year in Vietnam. It was very important to him that we understood about certain aspects of life. So it wasn’t enough to visit a battlefield, we needed to know why the battle occurred, how it played out and the consequences. Fortunately, he had a gift for presenting history as a fascinating story. He also seemed to have a good sense of exactly how much a child could handle, which is quite a bit.

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Q: Was The Hunger Games always planned as a trilogy?
Not necessarily. But once I’d thought through to the end of the first book, I realized that there was no way that the story was concluded. Katniss does something that would never go unpunished in her world. There would definitely be repercussions. And so the question of whether or not to continue with the series was answered for me.

Q: What do you hope readers will come away with when they read this trilogy?
Questions about how elements of the book might be relevant in their own lives. And, if they’re disturbing, what they might do about them.

In love with The Hunger Game and can’t get enough? Satisfy your craving with a selection of books with similar themes and ideas.

 Hunger Game Read-Alikes Available @ Broward County Library:

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Birthmarked, by Caragh M. O’Brien.
Teenage midwife Gaia Stone helps her mother deliver the three infants a month that the Enclave requires. But when her beloved mother is abducted by those she loyally serves, Gaia question what it all means and whether it’s worth it. More...

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Eve, by Anna Carey (available only in eBook)
It’s the year 2032. A deadly virus has wiped out most of the world’s population. Eve is on the cusp of womanhood and about to find out what happens to the students of her all-girls school after graduation. Will she survive the treacherous journey to the New World that she now faces? More...
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Girl in the Arena, by Lise Haines
As a neo-gladiator’s daughter, Lyn lives by the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association. Her mother has made a career out of marrying neo-gladiators, the post-modern warriors who fight to the death in televised blood sport matches. But when Lyn’s stepfather is killed by a talented young fighter and capture’s Lyn’s dowry bracelet, she may be forced to marry him… More...
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Graceling, by Kristin Cashor
In her society, Katsa is one of the lucky few born with a rare skill called a “Grace.” She has the power to kill and struggles with the burden and consequences that ability brings her. But when she teams up with another fighter, Katsa has the power to seek redemption and save her country from a mysterious enemy. More...
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Matched, by Ally Condie
In Cassia’s life there are no choices. From what you wear to who you wed, The Society makes the decisions for you. When Cassia turns 17, the Society picks her husband and she is “Matched” with her best friend Xander, the perfect choice in her eyes. But when her neighbor Ky’s face also keeps showing up on her match disk, dangerous and difficult questions arise. More...
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The Pledge, by Kimberly Derting
In Charlaina “Charlie” Hart’s dark, dystopian world, the class system is based on the language that you speak. But Charlie has a secret gift that’s only revealed when she meets Max, a young man with a mystery of his own. More...
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Unwind, by Neal Shusterman
In the future, teenagers can be chosen to have their lives “unwound” and their body parts transplanted to help others. But the donors are anything but willing, and three of them but do everything to escape this fate and survive intact. More...
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Wither, by Lauren DeStefano
Modern science has drastically altered the human lifespan. Men die at twenty-five; women at the age of twenty. In this dark look at the future, young girls are kidnapped, married off and then used to repopulate the dying Earth. Can anyone escape? More...

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