Hailey Fischer is an intern for the marketing department at UNP. She plans on surviving the Hunger Games and wants you to love the books you love without shame.
On June 17, 2019, author Suzanne Collins and Scholastic publishers announced the release of a prequel to Collins’ bestselling series The Hunger Games in May 2020. Set sixty-four years before the events of the first novel, the untitled prequel will focus on the early years of post-war Panem when the terrible Hunger Games are first established. “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature,” said Collins in the New York Times. “Who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival.”
As my phone buzzed with friends and family sending me the announcement, I actually screamed out loud with excitement and woke my sleeping roommate down the hall. The Hunger Games is a book I hold close to my heart, one of my all-time favorites that currently sits in a place of honor on my bookshelf. For anyone that might be unfamiliar, here is the novel synopsis:
Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I first encountered The Hunger Games when I was in middle school and credit it for inspiring me to be a writer and pursue an English major in college, and eventually a career in publishing. The novel’s protagonist Katniss Everdeen was a role model for me, an example of strength, sacrifice, and perseverance. I connected with her unlike any character before, and someday I want to produce books that have characters who can do the same for other readers.
I will always sing nothing but praise for The Hunger Games, but that hasn’t always been easy. As an English major, I was often forced to tear books—the plot, the characters, the sentences—to pieces. Modern young adult novels don’t always measure up to the likes of Great Expectations or The Great Gatsby, so more than once I felt a little shame when I told a professor or classmate that the Hunger Games was my favorite book. It wasn’t that they hated the book, but often to them it didn’t seem to hold much relevance or grounds for a deeper discussion.
The relevance of a book like The Hunger Games—and for any book—depends heavily on personal interpretation. While I may interpret the book as an interesting observation of the concept of humanity, others might not see it that way.
But I’m not arguing that The Hunger Games is a great work of literature that should go down in history with To Kill a Mockingbird or Pride and Prejudice. My love for The Hunger Games and my study of other historically “great” works throughout my education has made me consider how we approach literature and how we judge books and the readers that love them. We can often dismiss a book and its relevance because of its age, plot, or concept but that doesn’t mean it is any less influential for its audience.
Something I’ve learned in publishing is that there is a genre, a book, and a fanbase for almost anything. Whether a subject is part of a genre that is broad, like horror, or niche, like studies on Nebraska wildlife—any subject has the potential to stir something in an individual, even if it might not do that for the masses.
So, love the books you love without shame—great classics or new YA novels. Don’t discount your love for a character, book, or series just because it might not be as highbrow as something the person next to you loves, and don’t dismiss their favorite book either! We love the books we love because they evoke something in us—take us to a new place, create a connection to a character or situation, or inspire a new idea.
Above all, keep reading, because you never know when a book might change your life.
(And if you haven’t already, read The Hunger Games, it won’t disappoint.)