“The Hunger Games” Renaissance: Why the series is so popular eleven years after its publication 

By Emma Russell 

Copy Editor 

Throughout the early 2010s, action and adventure movies dominated the box-office, drawing in hundreds of billions of dollars, with young adult dystopian films like “Divergent” and “The Maze Runner” flooding the market. Still, no series hit the mark quite like the one that started it all: “The Hunger Games.” 

The trilogy sold over 100 million copies worldwide and is translated into 54 languages. The first book in the titular series, written by Suzanne Collins, was published in 2008, with the sequels “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” being published in 2009 and 2010 respectively. 

“The Hunger Games” is set in Panem, a dystopian North America, which consists of the wealthy Capitol and 12 surrounding Districts. 

Those living in the Districts struggle to survive in a world where every year two children from each District are selected from a lottery to participate in the Hunger Games — a sadistic punishment for the Districts who tried to rebel against the Capitol 74 years ago, where children are forced to kill each other in a televised arena until one remains. 

Katniss Everdeen, the main character, is a talented archer who volunteers for the games in order to protect her younger sister. The story spins out from there, with Katniss doing her best to survive while also pretending to be madly in love with her partner, Peeta Mellark, to ensure their survival. 

According to Vox, the deceptive cleverness of the romantic subplot was one of the reasons why the series caught on with younger audiences. 

“‘Oh,’ I thought. ‘That’s a fun and tropey little love story. I’m a sucker for star-crossed lovers. This book is still trashy, but I’ll keep reading for a bit,” Vox culture writer Constance Grady said. “Then I turned the page and realized that the love story was a tactic, that it was designed to

make the audience within the book, watching the Hunger Games on TV, react exactly the same way that I, reading the book, reacted: to make them say, ‘Oh, how sweet,’ and pay attention for a minute longer.” 

“For me, this is the genius of ‘The Hunger Games’: It’s able to make me incredibly aware of my own emotional reactions to storytelling tropes, and then it creates enough distance that I can interrogate my reactions,” Grady said. 

The popularity of the books lead to the creation of its blockbuster film adaptations, 2012’s “The Hunger Games, 2013’s “Catching Fire,” 2014’s “Mockingjay: Part 1,” and 2015’s “Mockingjay: Part 2,” which combined garnered over $3 billion at the box office. 

According to Netflix’s official Twitter account, all four films were added to the streaming service on March 1 to celebrate their 11-year anniversary. However, the movies were removed from the platform on March 31. 

Even though the films were only available for one month, people fled to social media to make comedic videos, deep dives, and thirst edits about the series. 

One Tik Tok user, @luckyleftie, started to create videos in the beginning of March expanding on characters and plotlines that were included in the books and not the films, as well as analyzing scenes from the written series. 

She has over 90 videos about “The Hunger Games” ranging in view counts, with her lowest viewed Tik Tok coming in at 106.0 thousand views, to her highest viewed video coming in at 4.6 million.

It is no surprise at the popularity of her videos; the tag #hungergames has a combined 7.4 billion views on Tik Tok. 

But what makes “The Hunger Games” so different from other YA dystopian novels? 

Take for example the “Divergent” trilogy, written by Veronica Roth, whose first book was published one year after “Mockingjay.” While popular in its own right, the series never quite reached the acclaim of Collins’ books, and its film franchise remains incomplete. 

Many believe it is to do with the setting of “The Hunger Games” trilogy. While it is set in a dystopia, many readers and watchers found similarities to the contemporary world. 

“[YA dystopian] books offer young readers safe access to the carefully curated dystopia America has been since its inception,” author Nicky Drayden said. “At the time, many probably viewed ‘The Hunger Games’ series as escapism for young adults, but in hindsight, I see it as a primer for dealing with inequity and uncertainty, even before this current global crisis.” 

“The scene in ‘The Hunger Games’ where Peeta says Katniss is pregnant and the audience is outraged and demands the Games be stopped is such a perfect encapsulation of the so-called ‘pro-life’ movement, because they were all perfectly fine with kids dying until a [fetus] was involved,” author Erin Ekins said on Twitter in reference to the overturn of Roe v. Wade and conversations about mass shootings.

Even though the series is no longer on Netflix, it is likely “The Hunger Games” craze will continue thanks to the release of a prequel film called “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” which is set to hit theaters on Nov. 17, 2023. 

Based on Collins’ book of the same name, which was published in May of 2020, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is set nearly 60 years before the events of “The Hunger Games” and tells the story of the first victor from District 12 Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) and a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) before his presidency.

Photo caption: Jennifer Lawrence starred as Katniss Everdeen in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, which premiered to mass popularity in the early 2010s. 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

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