Why Is The Hunger Games So Popular?

Okay, so we could discuss lots of things that makes The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and now Mockingjay so popular. The inventive plot. The quick pacing. The fact that it strikes a fear in our hearts, makes us realize what our world could become.

For me, it's the characters. Let's examine.

Katniss Everdeen: She's brave, even when she doesn't want to be. Everything she does, she's not sure about. (Who doesn't feel like that?) When she thinks she's screwed up, or when she's just doing what's natural, it comes across as being heroic, beautiful. (Who doesn't want their normal, everyday actions to influence people's lives?) She's loyal and caring, but at the same time she's got her opinions and she's not afraid to let anyone know.

She's brilliant.

Peeta Mellark: He's quiet, reserved, and undoubtedly in love with Katniss. His motives are purely to make sure she stays safe--or as safe as possible. (Who doesn't want someone like that in their life?) He's talented with paint and flour, sensitive, yet ferocious. (Who doesn't want a man who can cook as well as offer protection?)

He's adorable.

Gale Hawthorne: He's the childhood friend, the strong silent one through the first two books. (Don't worry, no spoilers here.) He's Katniss's equal in strength, in cunning, in temperament. (Who doesn't want someone who completes them in every way?) Even though he's not around much during the Games, he worms his way into the arena, into the reader's hearts.

He's swoonworthy. (Yeah, okay, I'm on Team Gale.)

President Snow: He's evil personified. The way he threatens Katniss in those subtle ways, the way he takes the individual pieces of her life and crunches them before her eyes. *shudder*

He's the perfect antagonist.

I could go on and on about Cinna and Haymitch and Rue and about a dozen others. I won't. Instead, I turn it over to you. Who do you love in The Hunger Games or Catching Fire? Why do you love them so much?

Also, if you think there's another reason for The Hunger Games coolness factor, spill spill! I'd love to discuss what makes this book (series) so successful.


Unknown said...

Well HEY, Elana! I have some spoiler-ish comments. I guess, me being me I tend to over-complicate stuff. While I love the characters in the HG trilogy at face value (I am firmly Team Peeta, BTW--he is my dream man) I think the true reason for the trilogy's popularity goes beyond even the great plot, characters, writing, etc. It is the underlying theme, the basic sensitive, gentle and thoughtful nature of the author (who I met in person yesterday-swooooooon) that informs her ferocious story-telling skills. Suzanne Collins has something she wants to tell us. And her characters are more than just people. They are symbols. Katniss is all of us--unsure, wanting to do good, but often mislead and used as pawns in other people's agenda. Snow, of course is just plain old base evil. Gale--and this is controversial but I think after you've read the entire MG book you'll see this is true. Gale is an example of how outrage, deprivation and abuse can make you a killer. Gale has become everything Katniss has tried to avoid. Gale is in transition to the point where he can become as bad as Coin, someone who might have started off as well-intentioned but lost sight of her moral compass .And this is what Katniss has always feared. Which brings me to Peeta. Peeta is hope, beauty in the midst of chaos, love, everything that is good,that can still prevail even in the worst of circumstances. This is why when Peeta briefly turns bad it kills us (and Katniss) so much. Prim represents the same thing, but she is not as strong as Peeta. He is strength and beauty combined. SO in the end--she had to choose Peeta. How could she not? He represents the hopeful future of humanity. Oh--and Haymitch. He's what you get when you are like Peeta, but without the hope.

Matthew MacNish said...

Sorry but I can't read this. I haven't read any of them yet! I know, I know *hangs head in shame* I intend to devour them all, as soon as I find the time.

CL said...

I'm also on Team Gale and still don't have my hands on Mockingjay
(so I won't read the comment above)

BUT I think another important factor is the 'little guy against the machine' aspect. The cruelty, glitz, shallowness and apparent omnipotence of the Capitol v all these scrappy lovable characters.

And Rue! I even like the mayor's daughter-- whose name I can't remember-- but who gave Katniss the mockingjay pin.

Amie McCracken said...

Not only are the characters so well developed, the world is too. We get to watch the story without having lore from the world shoved in our faces.

Plus the little things, like the blood smell on President Snow's breath...ugh.

I could go on forever. This trilogy is just a supreme example of very good writing. (I kind of don't want to watch the movies because they might ruin it for me. But I will anyways, I'll devour anything to do with The Hunger Games.)

Theresa Milstein said...

The characters are important. But Katniss's thoughts are what draws me in. Her thoughts on everything and everyone, what she needs to do, how she's being used, figuring out her next move, and so on. Her growth unfolds in a believable manner that shows great depth.

I didn't like her in the beginning of 3. Now I'm on page 77, and now I'm back on board.

Elana Johnson said...

Amie, who could forget the blood on his breath? He's so creepy.

Lisa, I didn't read your comment as I'm only on like page 200 of Mockingjay, but I will come back tonight after I've finished.

Matt -- you should be ashamed, brother! Get thee to B&N and buy your copies!! (JK)

CL -- Yes, that mockingjay pin is quite important, no?

Theresa, I know what you mean. I find myself frustrated with her on one page and liking her on the next. It's almost like real life... :)

Mandy P.S. said...

I completely agree that it's the characters that make this series so awesome. And Lisa, as someone else who has finished Mockingjay, I concur on your assessment of Gale.

I think it's amazing how she makes us love even the secondary characters in the novel, like Cinna and Finnick. They're not major players--they're not Katniss or Peeta--but we still love them, cheer for them, and cry for them.

And Ms. Collins has mastered the art of making things just get worse and worse for the characters. We see these people we love put in these awful situations. It's enough to make anyone love them more and want to keep reading.

Sarah N Fisk said...

I <3 Cinna.

Jemi Fraser said...

For me - it's always about the characters. Katniss, Gale & Peeta are all so real - I can't decide on a 'team' because I think they're both awesome!

Mari Hunt said...

Spoilers from me-
Setting aside Gale and Peeta for a moment (so difficult), I love Finnick. He waved a big red flag in Catching Fire, with the sexual overconfidence yet a lack of real human attachment to anyone except Mags. Learning his backstory broke my heart. I so wanted him to settle gently with Annie - his death bothered me the most.

Najela said...

Spoiler Alert! Proceed with Caution

I agree with Lisa on her assessment of Gale as well. I'm still unsure why he was my favorite character (Well, I liked all the guys, but some reason Gale was my favorite in the last book.)

I agree with Mari too. Finnick's story was really heart breaking for me. I thought after all that hassle of winning the games, he was still just a pawn. His death didn't sit well with me either, especially when it was revealed that he had a kid.

I guess the reason I like it is because it's all so raw and real. The author didn't spare us and try to wrap things up in a neat little package. Something about the epilogue still unsettles me though.

Tere Kirkland said...

Buttercup. He's the best. Just wait til you finish. Niagara Falls.

Krispy said...

Some of these comments made me nearly LOL for real. :)

The characters are great, the pacing is excellent, the plot is riveting. Katniss really pulls it together for me. She's real - brave, vulnerable, fierce, frustrating, protective, etc. There are moments in Mockingjay where I wanted to yell at her, but I was still rooting for her.

And like Najela said, the books are very real. Collins doesn't hold back just because it's YA.

Riv Re said...

I don't know how to explain it, but the plot. And the writing. It's ingenious.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

These books have so many interwoven layers of conflict, they're a work of art.

Unknown said...

I just finished reading the first book. In general, I agree with most of your comments except the "inventive" part. The actual "hunger game" has been played in few other books/movies. I just started the second book. Hopefully it doesn't focus on the romance too much since the first 2 chapters focus heavily on the feeling of Katniss for Gale and Peeta.

Myron said...

I think it's popular because it's popular.

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