On the Hunger Games trilogy

Introduction: The Panem Companion

By V. Arrow

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins, is arguably the most significant Young Adult literary work of the last few years; it has certainly been the most visible. It has also been lauded for its accessibility to a wide audience, from students reading it as an assignment in schools to adult men and women reading it for its literary value–or to see what all the fuss is about.

What is that fuss about? What makes the Hunger Games so compelling as to have become an international phenomenon? On first blush, the synopsis of the series does not exactly sound like the kind of pleasant, jaunty read that most casual readers would seek out–the story of a girl trying to survive a gladiatorial battle to the death in a televised competition, which ends with a war that kills most of the beloved characters–and its status as a young adult novel would seem, unfortunately, to disqualify it from many intellectuals’ “Must Read” lists. Yet somehow, the series managed to bridge that gap between scholarly critics and casual readers in a way that few books, much less series, have managed.

Perhaps it’s not so surprising that the Hunger Games bridges that gap, given that bringing different groups together is one of the key themes of the series: bridging class divides, ideologies, and political schism. As Katniss’ awareness of her world grows and opens, so does our own as readers; as her outlook matures, so does Collins’ literary voice–and so do we. It is Katniss, in  …

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