Is this exciting fantasy-thriller the new Twilight?

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A Literary Phenomenon

The Hunger Games is a hugely successful book for teenagers and young adults by the American author Suzanne Collins. Since it was published in 2008 it has been translated into 26 different languages and has sold millions of copies around the world. It is also the first book for young readers to sell more than a million electronic copies. The Hunger Games is now a major Hollywood film and is just as successful. It made 152.5 million dollars in its opening weekend in North America alone!

A Fight to the Death

The story takes place in the future, after the destruction of North America. The country is called Panem and is made up of twelve poor districts governed by the wealthy Capitol. The Capitol holds absolute power over the nation. Each district is responsible for producing different things for the Capitol. District 12, where the story begins, provides all the coal for the country. There used to be a thirteenth district but they rebelled against the Capitol in the past and were destroyed.

The Hunger Games are an annual event, which the Capitol uses to remind the districts that they are being punished for rebelling. Every year one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 are chosen from each district by lottery to compete in a battle in which only one person can survive. The chosen teenagers are called “tributes”. The whole nation is forced to watch the event on television.

The heroine of the story, a sixteen year old girl called Katniss Everdeen, has lost her father in a mining accident and has to provide food for her family. She hunts in the woods around District 12 with her friend Gale and becomes very skilful with a bow and arrow. When her younger sister, Prim, is chosen as one of the tributes, Katniss volunteers to go instead. The other tribute from District 12 is a boy named Peeta and Katniss soon finds herself in a complicated relationship with him.

Where did the idea for The Hunger Games come from?

One night in 2003, Suzanne Collins was flipping between channels on TV. It was at the time of the US invasion of Iraq. The only programmes she could find on TV were ‘reality’ programmes of young people competing to win a million dollars and news programmes about the war. Suzanne says that the two things start to merge together in a disturbing way and the idea for The Hunger Games came to her.

She has always found news programmes of wars upsetting. When she was a child, her father was a pilot in the US air force and he fought in Vietnam. Her mother tried to protect her by not telling her what was happening in the war, but she still saw news programmes about the war and knew that her dad was there. It was a very frightening experience for her.

Another important inspiration for the book comes from Suzanne’s love of classical Greek mythology. When she was a child, one of her favourite stories was Theseus and the Minotaur. In this story the city of Athens is ruled by Crete, but the Athenians rebel. As a punishment, Minos the king of Crete forces the Athenians to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete every year. The youths are thrown into the labyrinth and eaten by a monster that lives there called the Minotaur. But one of the youths, named Theseus, fights the Minotaur and kills it. Suzanne sees Katniss Everdeen as a futuristic Theseus. Another classical inspiration comes from the ancient Roman games, where gladiators have to fight to the death for people’s entertainment.

Too much violence?

As The Hunger Games has grown in popularity, some parents in the US have complained about the level of violence in the book and are concerned that it shows children killing each other. However, Suzanne says she was becoming more and more worried about how normal it is becoming to see violence on TV. She wanted to show people where this could lead in the future. Suzanne is also concerned about the amount of reality TV we watch nowadays. “We’re putting too much of our lives on TV,” she says. “And we’re so bombarded with imagery that we’re becoming desensitised to it. It’s OK to be desensitised to a sitcom, but when it’s real tragedy, that’s different. It’s real life and it’s not going to go away when the commercials come on.” She found the deaths and violence between young people in the story the hardest things to write and she hopes it will make people think about what they watch in future.

Books or Films?

Suzanne isn’t just concerned about what we watch. She’s also very passionate about what we read. In this age of video games and texting, she thinks it’s even more important for young people to keep reading books. “Reading exposes you to so many different people, places and times,” she says. “But more importantly, it’s an intimate and personal experience. No one else is interpreting the material for you and it’s an opportunity for your mind to meet the writer's mind.”

Brendan Dunne

Total votes: 692
Language level: 

Discussion

Are stories like this better in a book or film? Why?

Comments

LeniMagda's picture
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LeniMagda 10 January, 2017 - 18:10

Hey Community,
I saw this text about "The Hungergames" and I had to choose this text for my english homework!
I just love those books. I read them already in German.
Now with this text I got the background information about the development of the book. I think that´s cool because I enjoyed reading the Hungergames trilogy.
Even if the story about the main charakter Katniss is a little bit bloody-minded, it´s anyway a great book for teens. I really recommend it for everyone who´s interested in science fiction novels or who likes suspenseful stories, trust me, it´s gonna be worth it.

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6 users have voted.
sona's picture
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sona 24 April, 2016 - 14:10

I have seen the 'Hunger Games' film,but I haven't read the book. The film was wonderful and it made a great impression on me. The special effects were great and the actors were very talented. However,I am sure the book is much better,because when you read a book your imagination is free and sometimes what you imagine when you read a book is different with what you see in a film. The director have to involve the whole plot of the book in a 2-hour film. This effect in the way the person understand the film and the beauty of the film get lost. I feel this way when I saw 'Harry Potter' film after I had read the book. I felt so disappointed.

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29 users have voted.
Andj's picture
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Andj 30 November, 2014 - 00:10

I really enjoyed reading Susan Colling books and soon I hope I will go to watch the third movie.
She is totally right. We see a lot on violence every day on Tv and we didn't realised that that is people real life and no just a drama o serial.
I recommend everyone to read the Hunger Games' books

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96 users have voted.
englishworkpch's picture
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englishworkpch 24 October, 2014 - 02:58

In my opinion books and films are great! I think it's depends on the people because there are some kids who don't like to read and prefers to see movies, or people that just love films and these stories are wonderful. The different to the books are that the same story can be interpreted in a different way because you read it and you have to imagine all, which it's amazing! And I think another advantage of books are that you can read it when and where you want! Well yes, I prefer books but I understand people who choose films because some of them are awesome and have incredibles special effects and it use high technology who make the film more attractive!

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88 users have voted.
PauliR's picture
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PauliR 24 October, 2014 - 00:41

When I was reading this book, I found it very inspiring, because I was reading about the start of a revolution, I was able to be experience the same feelings as the characters. And it really made me think about how our society is nowadays, how there are people in the world that is controlled in a way by the economically powerful ones, and are told by them that they can't improve or change the way they live. It also shows how there are less bad and good people in the world than ignorant ones, that do not understand much about what is happening and just follows the trend; which is something that, in my opinion, humanity has to work out.
I agree that it has a lot of violence, but, it is because of that, that there are people who classify the films and say if it is appropriate for kids or even teenagers. So, I think parents should be more careful and investigate what their children are watching.
I really like the book, but I don't love it; beyond the fact that I was impressed when I read it, I can say that it is a very commercial story with a predictable love triangle and an obvious ending.

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140 users have voted.
sv98's picture
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sv98 24 October, 2014 - 00:11

Well, I never read this book, but usually, I hate to see the movie after having read the book. Because, whit a book, you can create characters just like you can imagine them, and if you see the movie, maybe your “creation” doesn't look like you’d wish it to be.
I think that the book is the best way to imagine a story, because with a book you take all time that you need to read it. You can imagine places, personages and specific situations. In the movie you can see that the director wants you to see, in a short time. On the other hand, the book doesn’t have a time to be read, so it has more information and details than the movie. I saw the film, and in my opinion it’s good, but all my friends that have read the book says that the book is better than the movie. So in my opinion, in this case, the book is the best way to meet the “Hunger Games” story (in part influenced by the opinions of others).

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94 users have voted.
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Tomascuadra 23 October, 2014 - 19:34

For me, the Hunger Games's book is much better than the movie because the book allows us to understand in details the story and tells us about the story from a more detailed and personal point of view. However, the film suppresses many details that are very important in the book, and some scenes of the book are not filmed. We can also say that the book creates an imaginative environment, which is very difficult to leave because relationship between the story and the reader is created, in which, although we are not reading, keep thinking about what will happen. I think it's better to read the book first and then watch the movie. My point is not to discredit the film, because it's very good and costs a lot of work and money, but I prefer reading the book.

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138 users have voted.
Car4to5ta's picture
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Car4to5ta 23 October, 2014 - 06:07

In my opinion the film is wonderful and it impressed me but honestly I think the book is much better than the film. Although both are brilliant and you may understand the plot anyway, thre´s no way films can make you feel as emotionally attached to the story as books. Personally,I think the book has got that spicy ingredient that is the freedom of interpretation. As you read the book your imagination works and no one else can see it exactly the way you do. You are free to see and interpret things the way you want, so you´re not forced to see only what the film shows you, which is much easier and restricted. Also the book always explains lots of things the movie doesn´t, which is a bad aspect.

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133 users have voted.
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MarianaNacional 22 October, 2014 - 19:36

Stories like this, in my opinion, are better in books. I didn't see this film and I didn´t read this book, but I can compare it with another films or books that I have readed or seen. I prefer books because when you read you can imagine what you want, but obviously following the story that you are reading, but when you are watching a film you have to believe what you are seeing without changing anything. And in my view, always what I can imagine, it's so much better than what others can imagine. ☺♥

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98 users have voted.
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Marilyncnlp 22 October, 2014 - 11:06

In my opinion the book is way much better than the movie. I´m really a fan of The Hunger Games. I ve read the book and watched the movie many times and I can say that I prefer the book over the movie a million times. Books have details and stories that don´t appear in movies . Books allow us to imaginate the story and that is wonderfull , depending on how much are you paying attention to the book your imagination increases or decreases. Scenes will be deep in your mind and you can relate those stories to your life. The Hunger Games movie is really good and has an excellent production ,but I prefer the book.

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78 users have voted.
MiicaFioreCNLP's picture
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MiicaFioreCNLP 23 October, 2014 - 00:22

I think that reading books is better than watching the film, because when you read a book, you imagine by yourself the characters as for example, how are they physically and their behaviour in differents situations. On May, I read 'The Hunger Games' and the thing I like most (talking about how it was written) was the way that the writer describes Katniss and Gale. On July, I saw the movie and Katniss, Gale and the situations they are involved to are different from the ones I imagined. To conclude, I like more thinking about the characters who are created on the book than the ones that are represented in the film.

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135 users have voted.
juliacnlp's picture
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juliacnlp 21 October, 2014 - 23:29

I definetly prefer The Hunger Games 's book over the movie. The book allows us to keep working our brain and to imaginate our own way of the story. I also like the movie, but I think it's better for us to read the book after seeing the movie because they are more descriptive, they have details movies don´t. I haven´t read this book yet, but I'm about to because I've already seen the movie. I really want to read it! The plot is really interesting and it's a great way to spend your free time.

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93 users have voted.
AnaR01's picture
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AnaR01 19 October, 2014 - 02:36

I definitely prefer books, a million times. Because it allows us to use and expand our imagination. Also books give us more information that movies don’t. And you feel different emotions.
I read The Hunger Games and some scenes that are in the book are omitted in the movie so it can turn difficult to understand the reasons for some events or know in detail more about something or someone. Besides, the film is good but not one of my favorite’s adaptation. If you read the book maybe you can be a little disappointed about the movie.
However, I love the cast! The actors are just like I imagined!!!

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131 users have voted.
Crystallized's picture
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Crystallized 13 April, 2014 - 20:24

I actually thought Collins got inspiration from a Japanese movie. But that movie is way more inappropriate and disturbing. If you are not... mature enough to get it. (And way creepier. I watched it not knowing I'm not supposed to, since the rating says it's not for people under 17, so i shall not mention the name here.) I enjoyed it anyways. Even more than THG. (Japanese movies always seemed to scare me more than these classic Hollywood flicks. But this was not just your usual scare. This was a complete psychological thriller.)

To put that aside, I think the books are always better. (For now. I still haven't seen a film outdo the book. But if someone did, feel free to let me know)

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137 users have voted.
ann_gemini's picture
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ann_gemini 10 October, 2013 - 06:22

Reading the book is a lot better. I imagine the Capitol through the desciption, it's different from the film. Some scenes in the book are not filmed so you can hardly know deeply about each character's personalities. Anyway, the film is ok.

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165 users have voted.
cupcakegirl's picture
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cupcakegirl 9 October, 2013 - 06:10

I read the hunger games. It is just SO amazing, but I think that the Harry Potter Series is way better!But definitely, it is better than Twilight(even though I never read the series.) ..............just my opinion! Of course reading the book is better than watching a movie, as books develop your vocabulary, give you a picture in your mind, and just like Sarah K. said, gives you strange emotions. I would recommend the Harry Potter series!

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126 users have voted.
ellana's picture
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ellana 25 June, 2013 - 10:49

I prefer reading this story in a book because, there are less violence than when you see the movie and the pictures ! Everyone can imagine the level of violence we want when we read a book ! it's less shocking

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108 users have voted.
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Miley 20 February, 2013 - 20:58

OMG!!!!!!!!! Its the hunger games...i totally love the hunger games ....I've read all the books and they are so fantastic. The movie too. It is very interesting and i really support the author purpose. I cant wait to see Catching fire....This is much BETTER than twilight..........

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203 users have voted.
lisannexkus's picture
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lisannexkus 15 December, 2012 - 10:28

I realy realy like the movie! I haven't read the book but i will! Hope the writer makes more movies about this story.. Still think that Twilight is better.

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145 users have voted.
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LadyLily5000 21 November, 2012 - 10:29

A story like this one is much better to read as a book 'cause then you go into the plot and it's more interesting. But such a book is worth seeing on TV too. It's best to watch the movie AND to read the book 'cause sometimes there are differences in the plot.

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160 users have voted.

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