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Getting into the Games

My household's thoroughly read copy.

After much nagging from my kids, urging from writer friends, and the debut of the movie–which I thought was really well done–I finally decided I needed to read The Hunger Games.

I’m not big into young adult fiction–though I loved the Harry Potter series–but I can see why Suzanne Collins’ books are such a big hit.

She not only delivers on the emotion, she does just about everything right.

Sympathetic characters? What’s more sympathetic then a group of oppressed people with tragic lives and little hope for the future, who work hard to survive?

That would probably be enough to draw you in, but Collins also gives her characters bravery, loyalty, interesting skills, and selflessness. You couldn’t be apathetic about Katniss, Peeta, and Gale if you tried.

Conflict? The Hunger Games has it in spades. How’d you like to be allies with someone you’ll eventually have to kill if you want to live?

And Collins keeps twisting the knife as the book goes on, but I don’t want to give too much away, in case you haven’t read it.

Setting? North America in some dystopian future where the Hunger Games arena can be anything the Gamemakers can dream up. It’s Gladiator meets Survivor meets Lord of the Flies. I dare you to snore.

I’m not saying everything was perfect. Some of the build-up could use tighter pacing, especially in book two (Catching Fire), but even if young adult books aren’t your usual thing, I think all of us could learn a thing or two about writing compelling fiction from Ms. Collins. And, enjoy ourselves along the way.

What’s not to like about that? Next chance I get, I’m curling up with Mockingjay.

Have you read any of the books in the series? What did you think?

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    Because of all the hype, I decided to borrow a copy to read…and LOVED it (even though I started reading with the feeling I didn’t want to like it!). The plot structure is pretty perfect, which was what I wanted to focus on. Immediately caring about the characters surprised me, and I admired how the author made it happen!

    If you’re familiar with the Save The Cat screenwriting story structure and want to see how it’s used in Hunger Games, here’s a link:

    The site also offers a “beat sheet” for the movie in today’s post (April 27, 2012).

    I have adapted the Save The Cat structure to novel writing and have blended the structure with a few others (like traditional 3-act structure plus a few others) and use this when I plot out a new story. It’s a ridiculously complex chart but It really keeps me organized and ensures I have a “whole story” and not just a great idea! I’m a big fan of Save The Cat.

  2. Reply

    I totally agree, Gwen. The book and movie were both very well done. The book was quite the page turner. I picked it up from the library on a Friday and finished it by that Sunday. I have Catching Fire but haven’t started it yet. Probably will sometime this week. Suzanne Collins lives one town over from me. I’m tempted to start stalking her to see if I can soak up some of her mojo…..

    Janet – thanks for the link. I love the Save the Cat book and will find this beat sheet very helpful. 🙂

      • Reply

        I haven’t in the past, and always find myself struggling through plots. I only just read Save The Cat recently. I have a new story idea in mind and I am definitely going to try using the beats. I’ve also been applying Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict lately to my current wips and it helps a lot. 🙂

  3. marycurry


    Hi Gwen,
    Glad t see you enjoyed it. Hunger Games got my reading mojo back for me after I was having a really difficult time finding something to completely captivate me. I loved Catching Fire as well, but I was seriously disappointed in Mockingjay. I’ll be curious to discuss it with you.

  4. Sandra Goff


    I absolutely loved, loved, loved Hunger Games. Although Catching Fire and Mockingjay weren’t quite as good, I still really enjoyed them both. What I was really disappointed in was the movie. I felt cheated. There were so many things left out and new things added, not enough background music and either dialogue or narration to clue us in on what Katniss is thinking. But back to the book–HG literally grabbed me by the throat and would not let go. I couldn’t put it down and every family member who read it was captured as well. I’ve never read any book quite like it before, that had such a hold on me. Oh how I’d love to write something as good and as captivating as HGs. Collin’s is the bomb writer!!!! (that’s a good thing) It’s really hard to follow HG as far as what to read next. Any suggestions?

    • Reply

      Sandra: I wish I could write like that too! This was really outside the norm for me, so I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions along these lines. Of course, if you like romantic suspense, my absolute favorites are Suzanne Brockmann (any of her Troubleshooters Inc books especially), Cindy Gerard, and Roxanne St. Claire (who also has a YA and a contemporary out now). Good luck!

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