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Goodbye, Katniss

katniss saluteIt’s always hard to say goodbye to a beloved series. In the case of The Hunger Games trilogy, movie adaptations have drawn out the inevitable for several more years — but now the end is truly here. In tribute (har har) to the franchise, we’ve pulled together a roundup of our Hunger Games coverage (and others’) over the years.

How The Horn Book reviewed the novels

Our reviews of the movies

From The Horn Book Magazine

On The Hunger Games phenomenon and fandom

Other Hunger Games stuff we like

Hungry for even more? Click on the tag Hunger Games.

And here’s how three HB staffers feel about The End.

Siân (pre-Mockingjay Part 2 viewing; also see her reaction to that epilogue)

mean-girls-feelings

I feel pretty strongly about The Hunger Games. I feel strongly enough that I have the Mockingjay symbol tattooed on my body (it’s in there somewhere, between the rings of power from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series and the Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter). And I’m almost always excited to see a beloved book series become a movie or show — this way, I get to have more of it. I may not always feel that it’s true to the book or that the casting is as perfect as I want it to be but, as a fan, I’m given more time with the story. And I always want more time with the story.

By the time this post goes up, I believe my coworkers will all have already seen Mockingjay. I, however, will not. This is because I’m a good sibling and daughter and am waiting to see it with my sister and Mom over the Thanksgiving holiday (the sacrifices I make). So all I can do is tell you my feelings as they stand now. And they are strong (and spoilery). They are:

NOOOOOOOOO PRIIIIIIIIMMMMMMMMMMMM

“I love Peeta.”

“Why is she wearing so much makeup in that scene in the trailer?”

NOOOOOOOO FIIIIIINNNIIIIIIIICCCCKKKKK

“This commercial is genius.”

“I love Peeta.”

“That white thing in the other commercial is HORRIFYING.”

 “HOW COULD YOU, GALE????”

 “I love Peeta.”

 “Capitol Couture is even genius-er than that commercial.”

 “I WANNA SEE IT NOW!”

 “I can’t believe it’s over.”

 “I love Peeta.”

 

Shoshana

It was the summer of 2008, and I was an intern at The Horn Book, a magical place where there were advance copies of books that hadn’t been published yet. A book lover’s paradise. A cornucopia, even. We had the chance to sample the books that had been nominated for stars, and my supervisor at the time was so enthusiastic about one book that I just had to try it. The premise took the idea of reality shows to an extreme that hadn’t even happened in, well, reality, and I was very curious to see what would happen.

I did what you do when there are a limited number of copies of a book available, and you’re an intern, so you’re around less often than the staff: I read the first chapter in the office. Just the first chapter, with warnings of “don’t get too attached to any of the characters” echoing around me. And then I finished months later, when the book was in actual-book form. Patience. I have it.

That was my first encounter with The Hunger Games. But most of my memories of the series came from working as a bookseller from 2010 to 2014. The books challenged a lot of things within their covers, but besides that, they challenged what YA was and who it was for. I learned to recognize a certain look on a customer’s face, a look that said, “I’m an adult and they told me to look in the young adult section for these books, and I’m standing near the Cs, so I’m probably not looking for Stephenie Meyer.” That look meant that I’d probably be delivering at least one of the following speeches:

  • Oh, pfffffft, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about reading these intelligent, riveting, multilayered books that happen to have teenage main characters. You know you’re talking to someone who works in the kids’ section, right?
  • I’m hesitant to give an exact age recommendation since every reader is different, but it’s about a reality show where teens fight to the death…No, there’s no sex.
  • I’m sorry, that one’s not in paperback yet. It’s just been selling so well that they’ve kept in in hardcover…but hey, a YA hardcover is cheaper than an adult hardcover.

These exchanges were more fun than, perhaps, they sound; it was a heady feeling to reintroduce readers to a category they thought they were too old for. (With a female protagonist! Which, for once, didn’t seem to bother anyone!)

Eventually, the books sold so well that they moved up front with the adult bestsellers. The film releases were closely tied to the increase in popularity, and it was heartening to see how many people wanted to read the books along with seeing the movies. I, of course, rushed out to the movies too, often with coworkers who understood what a big deal these books were. We saw how they were spawning similar series, universes of dystopia and post-apocalypse and in-a-world-where-everything-is-different-and-everything-happens-in-trilogies.

It didn’t take Panem that long to go from first book to last movie, but seven years was long enough for the dystopian trend in YA to rise and fall, at least for now. And it was long enough for the series to have a real impact on the industry and on my own reading and viewing life.

And for the record? You can keep your Team Gale, Team Peeta, and Team Romantic Storylines. For me, it’s Team Katniss all the way.

Katie (see Mockingjay, Part 2 review)

Like Shoshana, I was working in a bookstore during the books’ publication. We also had plenty of adult customers interested in reading the books themselves. But my most vivid memory of a Hunger Games–related customer interaction was overhearing one grownup suggest the first novel to another adult — for the friend’s seven-year-old child. (Yikes! I intervened with a recommendation for Magic Treehouse.)

I had read several dystopian novels prior to The Hunger Games trilogy, mostly touchstones such as Brave New World, 1984, The Giver, and Ender’s Game. But for me, and for vast numbers of fellow readers, the series sparked an intense interest in the subgenre that hasn’t yet waned. Collins’s series remains a standout among the crowd of dystopian fiction that followed — and continues to follow.

Similar to my experience of the Harry Potter fandom, my engagement with The Hunger Games series has gone far beyond just readership. It’s been a bit less of the midnight-premieres-in-costume type of engagement, perhaps (although I have been known to sport a Katniss-style braid), but equally extra-textual. Readers — myself very much included — seem compelled to discuss, rant, re-read, read criticism, watch and re-watch the movies, even parody the series. Some of my favorite articles about and spoofs of the franchise are included in the links roundup above. These books just stick with you, long after you turn the final page of Mockingjay.

P.S. The day after Thanksgiving, I marathoned all four movies with friends while we stuffed ourselves with leftovers. I have to say, it got a bit uncomfortable during that party scene in Catching Fire.

This post is part of our Hunger Games Week. Click on the tags Hunger Games Week and Hunger Games to see all posts. For more in our Fan Week series, click on the tag Fan Week 2016 and see #HBFanWeek on Twitter.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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