The Hunger Games Book Series

What You Need to Know About The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay

The Hunger Games Boxed Set
The Hunger Games Boxed Set. Scholastic

The Hunger Games Trilogy is a particularly dark and gripping series of dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins, published by Scholastic Press.


The United States no longer exists. Instead, there is the nation of Panem, governed by a totalitarian government. The government keeps the residents of the 12 outlying districts intimidated with its strict rules and demonstrates its power over life and death with the annual Hunger Games. All of the residents of the 12 districts are required to watch the Hunger Games, the ultimate reality show, which is a life or death “game” involving two representatives from each district.

The protagonist of The Hunger Games series is Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl who lives with her mother and her little sister. Katniss is very protective of her sensitive little sister, Prim, whom she loves very much. Katniss helps feed and support her family by hunting in areas designated off-limits by the government and bartering some of the meat on the black market.

When her sister’s name is drawn as a contestant in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place, and things go from bad to worse. There are no easy answers as Katniss deals with the violent Hunger Games and the dramatic results. Things are not always straightforward, and Katniss has to deal with a multitude of ethical issues as she struggles to survive. Tension builds in each book of the series, leaving the reader eager to read the next book. The ending of the trilogy in no way ties everything up in a neat bow and makes it right, but it is an ending that will stay with the reader and continue to provoke thoughts and questions.

Objections to The Hunger Games (Book One)

According to the ​​American Library Association, The Hunger Games (Book One) is number 5 on the list of the ten most challenged books of 2010 (What’s a challenge?). The reasons given were “sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence.” (Source: American Library Association)

Like a great many other people, I was surprised at the “sexually explicit” challenge and don’t understand what the challenger was referring to. While there is indeed a lot of violence in The Hunger Games, it is inherent to the story rather than gratuitous violence and is used to make an anti-violence point.

Recommended Ages

The Hunger Games trilogy may or may not be appropriate for some teens, not as a matter of age group, but depending on their interests, maturity level, and sensitivity to violence (including death) and other tough issues. I would recommend it for mature teens 12 and older, as well as adults and think they will find the trilogy to be both thought-provoking and engrossing.

Awards, Recognition

 The Hunger Games, the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy, has won more than 20 state awards for teen books. It was on the American Library Association's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and Amelia Bloomer Project lists for 2009 and was awarded a 2008 CYBIL Award - Fantasy/Science Fiction.

Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 2) is on the ALA's 2010 Best Books for Young Adults and won the 2010 Children's Choice Book Award: Teen Choice Book of the Year and 2010 Indies Choice Award Winner, Young Adult.

Books in the Hunger Games Series

  • The Hunger Games (Book 1, Hunger Games Trilogy).
    Hardcover, 384 pages (Scholastic Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780439023481)
  • Catching Fire (Book 2, Hunger Games Trilogy).
    Hardcover, 400 pages (Scholastic Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780439023498)
  • Mockingjay (Book 3 in the Hunger Games Trilogy).
    Hardcover, 400 pages (Scholastic Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780439023511)

Available Formats: Hardcover, large print hardcover (Book One and Book Two only), paperback (Book One only), audiobook on CD, audio for download and eBook for various eReaders.

The Hunger Games Trilogy is also available in a boxed set of hardbound editions (Scholastic Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780545265355)

Categories: Adventure, fantasy and science fiction, dystopian novels, young adult (YA) fiction, teen books