Posted on 6:02 pm,
August 25, 2012

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The latest episode of Hunger Games Chat has arrived! News has been rampant related to Catching Fire and we host an in-depth discussion on the book’s influence on kids.

– The Hunger Games DVD has been released! But we’re not reviewing it just yet.
– Donald Sutherland’s amazing e-mail to Gary Ross about President Snow is released.
– The Hunger Games overtakes Harry Potter as the top selling book ever on Amazon. How?
– Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth talk/tease Catching Fire.
– Speaking of Catching Fire, lots of casting announcements have surfaced!
– Main Discussion: Is The Hunger Games worthy of school?
– We look at the themes, characters, and quality to make a final decision.
– Comments address last episode’s hot topics.

Leave your comments in the section below and we may read ‘em on the next episode!

This episode's hosts: Richard Reid, Andrew Sims, Selina Wilken

  • clayton10ify

    You guys summed up my article without referencing to it once. I think you guys seriously underestimate today’s youth. You guys basically said that middle schoolers wouldn’t understand the premise of the books. I strongly disagree. Selina basically quoted my article without probably knowing it, it depends on the maturity of the reader. Read my article:

    Perhaps you’ll have a new perspective on today’s youth

  • Raina

    There are many in depth characters in The Hunger Games: Haymitch, Finnick, Johanna, Beete, Cinna, ect. Of course these books aren’t going to be discussed in a class setting because its too popular right now. 

  • Trel

    My main issue with this topic is the “easy fun reading” comments from Richard.  No novel is written to become a literary classic and on that same note people get different things from any story so for Richard to say the story and words are easy to him doesn’t mean its easy for everyone as a whole.  Literary comprehension comes from maturity and everyone isnt on that same level mentally to grasp or catch the themes in stories.  Would the hunger games be better if Collins used an abundance of larger words?  Would that make it a better novel?  I think not. There is a difference between teaching the English language and teaching Literature.  People are sooo stuck on teaching the “Classics” when it comes to Literature because some random group of “Scholars” said that “these books are the greatest and only true portrayal of the English language so this is what needs to be taught.” There is a bias in Literature when it comes to teaching from books in schools.  Alice in Wonderland is acceptable to be taught in high school because of the themes and prose but a book like the hunger games isnt “deep” enough or “hard” enough to have any literary value.  The challenge of any book should be the challenge your teacher presents to you as it relates to the book.  Just because you enjoy reading a book doesn’t mean that it isn’t a Great teaching aid.  I unlike most other people in my high school class LOOOOVED reading the Iliad and Of Mice and Men when I was there but, most people had more trouble with Of Mice of Men  which can be categorized as a  “fun easy read” compared to the 
    Iliad.  Overall the concept that nothing modern is “Acceptable” to be taught needs to change.  If it doesn’t how will we acquire new “classics” or will we be subjected to the same out-dated prose forever?  The Challenge is for the teachers to challenge the student and if you are a well educated English teacher you should be able to teach anything and have your students gain a wealth of knowledge from it.  Fairy-tales are simple easy and fun to read and yet they are taught in schools so why not the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments etc.

    • clayton10ify

      I agree

      • Trel


    • Mrs_Badcrumble

      I think there are many modern books that are appropriate for school teaching, but the Hunger Games is not one of them. Yes, it could be advised as reading for the student’s free time (as a motivation for those students who don’t like to read), but I don’t think it is good enough to be included in the curriculum, at least not in a more advanced class such as High School. There is a limited amount of material a teacher is able to teach considering the time frame. Yes, everyone takes value and meaning from all kinds of books, but that doesn’t mean they are well written enough (in terms of teaching advanced English), or the character well developed enough to incite a thorough discussion.

      Don’t take me wrong, I loved the Hunger Games and I would probably have preferred it to many of the books I was made to read, specially because it would be much more fun. But would I learn more from this book than from the other? Definitely not.

      • Martrel Howard

        “Well written enough” Who decides that? The people that only want classics to be taught. “Advanced English” is reserved for Advanced Placement and High Honors students. Every one isn’t on that level for that fact not all schools are able to get the supplies to teach such material. Freshmen and Sophomores can and should be taught using this book for the simple fact of introducing them to the style of novel writing as it compares to others besides Sophomore year is the cut off year for anything other than strictly classical works anyway, unless you’re in a school that allows diversity. My point is, as I stated, that there is a Blatant bias to modern literature for the simple fact that modern literature is or has the potential to become exponentially popular… that’s an issue because like it or not Fandoms are bigger than ever and just because people rally around a book makes it not worthy to be studied eventually because people actually like it? What is that reasoning? Once again Fairy-tales and Lore are taught in schools, High Schools so why not The Hunger Games that has more themes, an interesting style of literary writing and is pretty much a very viable tool as it relates to the current state of politics, culture, and issues with the psyche of humanity. I’m not saying that The Hunger Games has IMMACULATE writing BUT there is a need for people to know different styles and techniques that literature can have and will have. The prose is good but Also, As the world changes must we continue to only read from the same things until the end of time or evolve like everything else does.

        • Mrs_Badcrumble

          No one said that modern books shouldn’t be taught in schools… But there are contemporary novels that are much more interesting and challenging than The Hunger Games. And that’s what’s being discussed here – should the Hunger Games be taught in a class, not if any modern novel should.
          You sound like the books are chosen for these curriculums for the sole reason that people won’t like them… These YA books could be discussed in the context of a book club inside a high school class, but I don’t think the Hunger Games in particular has the linguistic quality to enter an English Class curriculum. In middle school, maybe… Or in a Social Studies class.

  • Gary65

    I totally disagree with you about Coin, Richard. We didn’t need Katniss killing Coin to know that Coin was evil. Whatsmore, her death was essential to the story. Katniss didn’t just attack Coin and kill her. She killed her with the arrow intended for President Snow. By doing so, she transplanted all her beliefs and feelings about Snow onto Coin. Coin was manipulative and evil.

    Her death was essential to bring an end to the War. Coin didn’t want to free the districts. She wanted power and was willing to bring Panem to its knees to get it. That’s why she put Peeta on the mission to infiltrate the Capitol. She hoped he would do a nutty and kill Katniss, the only real threat to her assumption of power after Snow’s regime fell. Coin’s death brought a true end to 76 years of cruelty and bloodshed and allowed Panem to be born anew.

    It would not surprise me to learn that her rise to power was as strewn with bodies as Snow’s was. In some ways, she was worse than Snow. Snow’s motives were never in question. Coin was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She, like Snow, saw everyone and everything as nothing more than a pawn in a game to seize power. That’s why she put Prim’s medic unit on the front line, in the hopes that Prim would lure Katniss in and then she could firebomb the pair of them and be done with this verdant thorn in her side.

    • Hagrid’s Coat

      I agree with you, and I would like to back this up by pointing to the part in Mockingjay when Coin gathers the surviving champions and has them vote on whether to continue the Hunger Games. Katniss votes yes “for Prim” (and Haymitch follows), not because she wants revenge, but because she realizes that in order to stop Coin from killing more innocent children and reinstating a totalitarian government she must pretend to support her. Then when she is brought out to execute Snow, she kills Coin instead since at this point in time, Coin is the real threat to society (and in Katniss’ point of view the most important enemy to get rid of).

      While she may have been feeling somewhat vengeful, I don’t think that was her primary motivation to kill Coin. I suppose that ideally she would have tried to find a way to remove Coin from power without continuing the cycle of violence. But in what way could she have done this? Even if there was a way, Katniss was so used to using violence by this point that trying to find an alternative solution wouldn’t fit her character. While she never accepted the mass violence techniques that Gale and others proposed, but she was always ready to kill or injure if someone directly threatened Prim, Rue, or Peeta.

      By shooting the arrow at Coin, she put aside any revenge she felt toward Snow and decided to use the shot to kill the person who still had the power and will to endanger the lives of others.

      • Gary65

        Wait……I’m pretty sure she shot Coin cos she realized that Snow was telling the truth and that it was Coin that killed Prim. It was entirely for vengeance.

        • Hagrid’s Coat

          That’s what it seems like if you just look at that incident in the book, but if that were her only motivation, it wouldn’t match up with the victors’ voting scene or at the very end where she concludes that “it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen.” Before she votes “yes” for a new Hunger Games, she says that she has thought everything through, and then says that this is where she will see how much Haymitch understands her. What would she be wanting Haymitch to understand? That she wants to kill capital children in revenge for Prim’s death? I think it’s more likely that she wants Haymitch to understand that Katniss would never want to see another games, and that she has voted “yes” just to put Coin at ease. Why does she want to mislead Coin? She doesn’t care about protecting her own life anymore; Prim is already dead; and I don’t think her vote would really affect Peeta one way or another. She’s most likely setting the stage to overthrow Coin in some way.

          If she’s planning to get rid of Coin this early, her motivation isn’t revenge because I don’t think she’s fully accepted that Coin was responsible for Prim’s death at this point in the novel. I do think that when she actually shoots the arrow, she is vengeful, but I think that her first motivation was to stop the cycle of killing innocent children.

          • Gary65

            I don’t think mentally deranged people are capable of creating complex political plots to unseat major rebellion leaders.

  • akacj7

    first of all, just sort of as an aside, i dont think suzanne collins is trying to make a statement about how she personally thinks that gov’t is evil and needs to be destroyed. that’s kind of ridiculous. if she DID feel that way she probably would have said as much and it would have subsequently hurt the sales of the book because that’s borderline fanatical, and as a marketing strategy would not be very effective. lol.

    i think this theme you’re talking about is more about fear. the fear that the gov’t is probably more susceptible to corruption than most of us would like to admit. as the political left and right become more extreme, it’s not difficult to imagine it getting to such an extreme that, basically, crimes against humanity occur. NOT finding it hard to believe that one day the most powerful gov’t in the world could fall to corruption akin to Panem?? that’s scary!! that i (or in this case suzanne collins) can come up with a vaguely plausible series of events resulting in the complete corruption of life as we know it? that’s borderline disturbing. and the fact that fear plays such a large role in propaganda and politics these days only exacerbates the plausibility. fear is like the gift that keeps on (unwanted-ly) giving.

    side-tracking a bit on the topic of fear – even president snow must have been racked with fear. i’ve always imagined that with great power comes great fear. the amount of paranoia that is required to rationalize horrific acts against humanity must be mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, perhaps even crippling. you don’t trust anybody around you & thus can’t really form emotional bonds, which is pretty crucial for human beings, and you’re just constantly on edge. if my memory serves, hitler’s health was pretty terrible (feel free to fact check me on that one); president snow, as we know, was suffering pretty horrifically, and there are probably many other examples in which “good” and “evil” world leaders suffered physically from the stress and power they held, whether it was put upon them, or they desperately clung to it. (does president coin fit into this model? it’s hard to say since we never learn very much about her, but i think katniss could actually fit into this model – discuss??).

  • Gary65

    I’m also really surprised that none of the hosts could think of a Tribute that refused to kill. Isn’t that the essential idea of Peeta? He has to be the only Tribute that didn’t kill anyone in his Games out of desperation to survive(he kinda killed Cato by pushing him into the mutts but I think that was more accidental than on purpose. Apart from that, the only person he killed in his original games was the girl who lit the fire, and that was to end her suffering. The only tribute Peeta killed outright was Brutus and that was more out of anger over Brutus killing Chaff than out of a need to survive). That was the point of Peeta’s whole speech on the Games’ eve. “I just want to show them that they don’t own me, that I’m more than just a piece in their games”.

    Also, as you said, any tribute who refused to kill would be killed instantly. Thus, it is likely that most of these kind of people would be killed in the bloodbath at the Cornucopia. Why run if you refuse to kill? You’re only gonna die later after a couple of days of starvation and no water. Decapitation is quicker.

    • Allie Rose

      Your statement about Peeta is wrong. In the 74th hunger games Peeta went back to make sure the girl tribute that the careers killed was dead and he “finished her off” so Peeta did kill someone not out of self defence or being angry at someone.

      • Gary65

        I already mentioned that in my first comment. The girl was dying anyway. He just ended her suffering and let her die quickly, instead of the drawn out affair the careers would have made of it.

  • Katie

    Rue did not kill anyone in the games. Neither did Foxface. There’s plenty more tributes who refused to kill. 

    • Selina

       You know, we definitely dropped the ball by not bringing any of these up. But what I was thinking about when saying that none of the tributes refused to fight was that no one ever seemed to just refuse going into the Games at all. It’s one thing going in and trying to win without being able to kill anyone, but it’s another to simply flat-out refuse to participate in the whole circus surrounding the Games (including the lead-up ceremonies, and of course the way their deaths are sure to be close up and dramatised). It’s true that not all kids who enter the Games are transformed into savage monsters, but my point was that they all ENTER the Games. No one (that we know of) that has been called into the Arena has actually refused to enter it.

      • Andrew Martin

        They couldn’t refuse the arena though. The Capitol has that power to force them into the Arena. If a tribute refused, there would be massive retaliation, with either being killed, or being beaten then forced into the Arena. That’s just my opinion.

        • Selina

           Which is what I’m pretty sure I argued on the podcast, too :)

      • Gemma

        You simply would not be able to refuse it. If your alive, you would go in. Maybe a tribute managed to commit suicide in an earlier games, hence the force-field around the roof of the building where the tributes stay before the games, or maybe The Capitol took this precaution from the beginning. Though if a tribute somehow managed to commit suicide they would know all there loved ones would pay the price.

        • Gemma


          • Gemma

            Their* Ahh what’s happened to my grammar! :(

      • Grace Kyle

        I always assumed that they had no choice, once they’re selected then it’s do or die. Especially as we learn about how manipulative and forceful the Capitol can be i.e *SPOILER ALERT* forcing Finnick to sleep with people. I also think the force-field is there for exactly that reason (committing suicide). What other purpose could it have? …Escaping the arena is another like in CF, but it’s a good theory.

  • Belle

    I have two things to say. The first is that if you’re searching for some profound statement on our society in the books, Collins makes a very clear one in Mockingjay, when Katniss asks someone (it might be Plutarch but I’m not sure) what will happen to Panem when the rebels take over, and he tells her that they will try to form a society like the ones they used to have in the past (which is presumably in reference to the world as it is now).

    Katniss then thinks to herself: “Frankly, our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars and broken planet. Clearly, they didn’t care about what would happen to the people who came after them.”

    In my opinion, that sums up what Collins is trying to say. It’s not so much about wondering whether there will ever BE a real hunger games (surely, there won’t be), but rather, a message that our actions today will affect the world in the future, and that we should try to leave the world a better place for those who will come after us. 

    The second thing I wanted to say is that for all Richard’s talk about the lack of ambiguity in the novels (he made it very clear that it is not a particularly literary piece of work because Collins has laid out everything we need to know, and we don’t need to question any of the character’s motivations), he doesn’t seem to have a problem with blatantly going AGAINST what Collins has quite obviously stated by suggesting, in many past episodes, that Katniss “settles” for Peeta. I don’t understand how he can say that there is nothing to ponder about in the books, yet bizarrely claim that Katniss did not truly want to be with Peeta, despite Collins making it quite clear throughout the ENTIRE book series that Katniss has strong feelings for Peeta. I happen to agree that there is no ambiguity in the books. That IS what separates good books from great books, and in fact, I personally don’t read much other than old literary classics because of this fact, although I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games, despite the blatantly simplistic characterisation. I just don’t think you can make a statement about Collins having laid everything out for the readers, and then claim that you believe Katniss “settles” for Peeta despite there being no evidence suggesting that that was the case. That’s just your opinion, which is fine, but seeing as Collins has made everything else so simple and unambiguous, I don’t see why you would believe there’s some underlying hidden truth behind Katniss’ decision to be with Peeta. 

  • Frances Early

    Okay, so it’s midnight, and I am illegally on my laptop because I was listening to this episode and had to make my comments. The first is that for the first time in my podcast listening career I have agreed with every single word Richard has said on this episode. He presents an intelligent and valid argument about why The Hunger Games are not suitable for learning about in class. 
    The way I see it, as a straight A+ Year 12 English Studies student, is that if I was to swap either of my two core texts, Frankenstein or Blade Runner, which present similar dystopian themes to that of Collins’ books, with The Hunger Games, any argument about the use of setting, nomenclature, or even character journeys as presented through, say costume, would be made superfluous. And costume is used in Hunger Games, but Collins says what she wants to say with very little nuance. The setting of the island does not represent anything, I mean you could force yourself to make it up, perhaps the clock theme suggests that Katniss and Co are running out of time to erm…win? erm…escape? Yeah, I am having difficulty with even that, and that was the easiest example I could think of.
     I know people say that it’s unfair to compare works of literature with other works of literature, but I find that argument stupid, as it would wipe out half the English curriculum of any self respecting school system. 
    My next point was about Andrew saying discussions are boring unless you imagine that these are real people and that they have real lives, but the cardinal rule of studying a text is to remember that characters only exist to the extent that the author has created them ON PAPER. You have to remember that they AREN’T real, and that their purpose it to tell the story as much as the author needs them to. I had this problem with Pride and Prejudice at the beginning of the year. When saying, Mrs Bennett’s first name is never revealed because of dot dot dot, it is entirely inaccurate. Mrs Bennett doesn’t have a first name. It never existed, as she is a character and Jane Austen created her as much as she needed to make her point. Mrs Bennett has no life apart from the text.
    Thirdly, the whole movie argument is also ridiculous, as one of the core components of my English course is film studies and techniques. I already mentioned we’ve studied Blade Runner this year, to such minute detail that the film is forever ruined for me. Furthermore, I studied The Hobbit in Year 7 (although the school system I was in called it Grade 7) and that was a complex enough text for thirteen year olds to study and understand. We could have looked at it more in terms of themes, but it was a good INTRODUCTION to studying literature.
    I have more to say, but it is slowly leaving my mind, so while I remember, I would like to congratulate Richard on his John Donne quote. This poem was the first I ever wrote an essay on, in Grade 8. I agree that Donne and Collins say the same things in their texts, but Donne allows for more philosophical debate over the meaning, and also a nuance that is lacking in Collins’ novel. 
    Now, I am going to sound really vain and stuck up by the end of this, but I am an 18 year old English snob. Literature is my life, and I only enjoy studying the good, yet boring stuff. I’ve studied the subject in both the American, British and Australian school systems, so I know a fair bit about the differences. As I see it, maybe one day the likes of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games will be elevated to the status of Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, and may one day, be as esteemed as any work of Dickens, however the works of Tolkien, Lewis and Dickens were not studied in English classes when they were written, and if modern literature is ever going to see its way into the school system, I suggest it won’t be for a few more decades. It hasn’t stood the test of time. There were many playwrights in the Middle Ages, but only one is well known today, Shakespeare. It’s standing the test of time that will show whether these books are worthy of literature studies.

    • Selina

      I figure such a long comment is worth a long reply, so here goes!

      I definitely agree with you that the classics are classics for a reason. But my argument is that there’s nothing wrong with spicing up the curriculum with something more contemporary and bite-sized. And studying a book like THG, studying why this text has gripped the world and shot to the top of all the charts, would have merit on its own.

      You enjoy delving into older works and appreciate their literary value, and that’s fantastic. But in my opinion, stories (both movies, TV shows and novels) that others are quick to dismiss as having no literary merit are often the ones we need to pay attention to. Because by dismissing them, we’re letting them influence us and society around us, and no one understands what is happening. Reality TV is, ironically enough, the perfect example. No one in their right mind would study the Kardashians, right? Well, yeah, except millions of people watch them every day and are influenced by the show, and the world isn’t gaining anything by us choosing to wrinkle our noses and judge the audience from behind our copy of The Iliad. I’ve always been an advocate of actually giving pop culture the time of day (which is why I’m here on Hypable) because hey, it’s already in our lives, and the only way we can maintain some semblance of control over how much we as individuals are affected by it is to actually acknowledge that yes, they ARE influential, and then spend time examining how.

      I’m not saying THG = Kardashians. I’m saying: the world has moved on since Dickens and Homer, and while that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep their great literary works alive, it also means that we can’t pretend like our society isn’t being governed by new, entirely different narratives. Learning in school how to tackle them is a far more healthy approach than being taught that they aren’t “worth our attention” and therefore being exposed to them without the instinct to critically analyse how they are affecting us.

      Really, it’s all about semiotics. Everything is a sign, and everything we experience has been filtered through what we already know. Both high and low culture. And dismissing the value of something because we deem it to be low culture is very dangerous, because then we don’t even notice how it affects us.

      • Frances Early

        I’m not saying that The Hunger Games isn’t worth reading, or that it should be dismissed, I just think it’s not worthy of time designated for serious study yet. I don’t know about other countries, but here in Australia we have the Premier’s Reading Challenge, which is separate from the normal curriculum and lets kids read any twelve books of their choice, as long as 4 of them are on the ‘Premier’s Reading List’, and you win a prize if you complete it. It’s a school based way of getting children to be more involved in literature, but doesn’t take away from serious study. In my mind, the ‘technique’ packed books, the ones that are tried and tested, are the ones we should be using for serious study, while these new books should be reserved for lighter reading.
        That’s not to say the themes in The Hunger Games are light, I think they do need to be fully explained to children, even older teenagers sometimes miss the point, but it’s not the type of book I would imagine sitting down and writing my final exam about. Maybe it would work in a comparative study, as I think you mentioned in the podcast, with something like 1984 or another text equally dystopian, (I did mention in my original comment it wouldn’t have the same impact, but on further reflection, I take that back), but not as a stand alone.

        I do agree that we should be taught how to be discerning about what’s worth investing time in, especially with such a varied pop culture. It is important to know what’s worth watching for moral instruction, and what’s just entertaining fluff. And I’m not saying that the only way to go is to stick with the classics, I am sure there is a board of execs somewhere who sit down and work out what’s worthy of being a ‘classic’ and what’s not, and if there isn’t, there should be one. I do think that there are modern books that are worth studying, maybe not just yet.We are supposed to study classics because of the mastery an author has at portraying their theme, it makes for a more technical essay, which is what markers look for at a high school level. They don’t want to actually know what the theme is and why it’s important, just how it’s portrayed.

        Collins certainly has themes. Big ones, and her books are thrilling and you get involved with the characters. I read Catching Fire in 3 hours, it was so intriguing but in the end, I don’t think the technical level is high enough for high school study.

        I did consider whether it would be suitable for younger ages groups, but a Yr 6 girl that I’m friend with read them, and all she took away is that Peeta is nice and sweet and amazing, and Josh Hutcherson is good looking. Oh well, I tried.

        There are definitely merits to The Hunger Games. In a society where dystopia is in vogue, and yet we don’t consider the implications of these novels, I think it certainly stands out as the best attempt at a warning about the future that we’ve seen in a long time. Not to mention realistic romance, haha. Sorry about the long winded reply, I talk too much, apparently. I am going to leave this here, as I have to go prepare to go into battle against my English teacher over the merits of Harry Potter. :D

  • Gracie

    I disagree with what Richard said about the the complexity of the characters (maybe for some characters); though you make some valid points about the characters in general, you’re rather harsh them. Not all characters are necessarily written to be literary classics. 

    I think Peeta is a two dimensional character, especially as we get to experience Peeta’s ‘other side’ when his memories are altered. If this side of Peeta (which is rather blunt and straight to the point) had gone into the games with Katniss i think this would have definitely changed the way that Katniss behaved, i also think that he wouldn’t have been such a burden on Katniss.  This side of Peeta to me reflects the whole notion of having light and dark inside of us, we do whether we like to admit or not have a more instinctual and primitive side to us and i love how Collins was able to include that through Peeta particularly because he’s so naturally kind-hearted and good. Peeta could have very easily become the capitol Peeta but he didn’t which shows who he truly is a character, he also (though it isn’t emphasized as much)  hasn’t had an easy ride, being emasculated and being told he’s not good enough by his mother, being kidnapped by the Captiol, having his entire family die and having to question the motives of the one person he is sure that he loves.

    You could also argue this point with Katniss although she is not as complex as some other literary characters she does make for a good candidate for comparisons. Apologies for the Potter reference but you could argue that her journey is in some ways like Harry’s – Harry i think went through a whole lot more than she did, he lost his parents, his godfather, his mentors (Lupin & Dumbledore), Fred, Dobby, the list is endless, almost dying every year, having an entire community against him and on top of that having the powerful and most evil wizard of all time after his neck. Whereas Katniss only loses her father and sister and has Snow after her, i’m not saying she has it any easier but it’s just interesting to see how Collins has her react, she never fully heals from her experiences whereas Harry by the end of the series is very happily married with 3 kids and his scar hasn’t bothered him in years etc. 
    I think her ending though not exciting is very real – she went through a traumatic experience and things like that no matter how much we readers want a lovely, happy or satisfying climax, she (Collins) gave her a very realistic ending. 
    I haven’t really read many books with female protagonists and Katniss, in my opinion is by far one of the most interesting characters i’ve ever read about. Complex or not she has some admirable qualities to her.

    P.S although i enjoy you playing devil’s advocate, lighten up a bit Richard (:

  • Eliza

    I’m a 15 year old and for our GCSE examinations we are studying Macbeth, Animal Farm, To Kill A Mockingbird, An Inspector Calls, and about 20 poems. A simple question is where would The Hunger Games fit in with this? All of the texts are commentaries on society, they have much deeper characters and storylines, Macbeth has violence and blood, not to mention someone scarred beyond repair because of it, Animal Farm has practically the same rebellion against totalitarianism, and the quality is brilliant in all of them, from the relatively easy to read (though not so much to understand) Animal Farm to Macbeth, which is difficult. My point is, everything you would possibly study in The Hunger Games is already studied. I think it should be kept to reading out of school, where we can take in its meaning while also just enjoying a good book.

  • Kyle Stewart

    Hi Hunger Games Chat,
    In Grade Eight, there was a Grade Seven/Eight Book Club at my school. In the club were some smart people, people who didn’t want to go outside at lunch, and people forced (for lack of a better word) to attend. To end the year, we would read (surprise, surprise!) The Hunger Games (it ended up being the trilogy, as the organizing teacher liked the series so much). In my not so humble opinion, I offered good discussion and theory to the discussion (which seemed to be mainly myself and the organizing staff, as the other smart people seemed to be shy). I understood well (all though I wouldn’t dare say it) that half of these people didn’t understand the story, the politics behind the story. For the most part, they mainly understood CAPITOL=BAD! KATNISS=GOOD! It’s like what was posted here on Hypable before… It’s not AGE its MATURITY. I hate it when people assign the book a certain age minimum on the series. In response to your fantastic discussion on Where The Hunger Games lies in the Education System, I think it shouldn’t be here. I know some of the Graduating Class of 2012 that wouldn’t understand this at all. Unfortunately, they might never understand this story is political. 

    I think that this story should be up to the teacher to decide if his/her class is mature enough to handle the series. 

    It’s no question that The Hunger Games has its place in the (ever-falling) Education System.

    Heading into Grade Nine next year, I believe that teachers should steer clear of The Hunger Games for my year because I know that (especially with my luck), there will be idiots very nice people in my class, who just won’t get it at all. 

    Thanks for the great episodes. I listen to Hunger Games Chat (duh), Mugglecast 
    Imprint (where did that go?), Glee Chat, and Hype+. 

    Oh, and thanks Andrew for recommending TWiT on Smart Mouths, I now listen to just about 4/5 of their network! Thanks to that I am considering a career in Technology Journalism.
    P.S I was listening to old Smart Mouths episodes, in episode # 34 Greg insults Canada, please tell him he is no longer welcome to Canadian Bacon, Maple Syrup, or Air Canada (the Pilots will strike, should he fly with them).

  • Cora Dora

    Hey guys!

    I just have a few comments about the episode :D

    In response to the argument that Andrew said was valid about a con to the Hunger Games being that it is a movie and that some students might just watch the movie instead of reading the book I would like to point out that many books are movies. To Kill a Mockingbird, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, any of the Shakespeare can be found in multiple versions, and more. I do not think that just because it is a movie that it should not be taught in class. However, I do agree with many of the others reasons and therefore do side with the people who believe that it should not be taught in school. 

    Richard listed off many books/series asking if they should be taught in school such as Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Eragon, The Hobbit. I just wanted to say that I did read The Hobbit in my 7th grade English class. We spent much time on the book and it was used to teach us about how to properly annotate while reading. 

    And I might just be weird but, unlike Selina, I typically really enjoyed all of my assigned readings throughout school and looked forward to the class discussions and analysis. I don’t think that just because a reading is assigned and is going to be analyzed in class that students will automatically dislike it. 

    Dystopian novels are probably my favorite. I read many of them throughout school (mainly high school) and I just can’t see The Hunger Games replacing any of these books. Brave New World, A Handmaid’s Tale, The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies are all books I read in school which I would think would be replaced if The Hunger Games, another dystopian novel, needed to be fit in. I can’t imagine replacing any of them with the Hunger Games and don’t think that the HG could have any more value then these books. Just because, like Selina says, the HG offer a chance for discussion about life and what it would be like to live in a world like Panem doesn’t mean that it has the literary merit (a concept mentioned quite a bit in my AP Lit course when I was in high school) necessary to allow in an English class. These other dystopian novels allow for the discussion of life in a dystopian society while also having literary merit and techniques that also allow for discussion. And that there are enough dystopian novels already being read in English classes to compare between and have cross-analysis so the HG isn’t really needed. 

    Lastly, in many towns, the only place you would stand a chance of being able to teach the Hunger Games would be high schools because of parents deeming it inappropriate for younger kids. However, it’s level of difficulty is probably more in tune with younger children. So there is just a conflict of the level of difficulty and the maturity of the content, which you guys mentioned. I think that it should just stay a book that kids read outside of the classroom and that if they want to discuss it between themselves (or listen to a podcast with discussion and analysis) then good for them!

  • Grace Kyle

    Regarding the comment Richard made about Twilight being studied in schools, i think we can all establish that Twilight is not a literary phenomenon, it wasn’t written to be a literary classic, it’s just a made up story between a girl and a vamp that a lot of people like. There’s no need of you to keep bringing it up as you continuously keep condescending it, comparing the fandoms and the success of the franchise with the hunger games is cool but i think fans of both franchises know very well that The Hunger Games trilogy and the Twilight saga are two completely different genres, stories, have different motivations etc. If you’re going to make an valid points or comparisons, references or whatever fair enough. You can have an opinion but i don’t want to feel patronized.

    One thing i’d like to add, i think The Hunger Games could be used really well as a comparison book to other dystopian books like 1984 and Lord of the Flies. For example: Don’t you think that Peeta and Winston (from 1984) had similar experiences? They’re different outcomes in terms of healing and moving on would be interesting to look at. I could certainly make a long list of comparisons from THG to other books of the same genre. As an English student, i would have loved to have studied THG in my final year of sixth form/high school last year; it would have been awesome! THG might not be as challenging as 1984 but it still resonates the same effect. 

    • Selina

       I haven’t listened back to the show, but we definitely made the point while recording that The Hunger Games should be studied in relation to those exact two books. Maybe it was cut out?

      • Grace Kyle

        No, it wasn’t cut out ;) 
        I should have mentioned that comparing characters/ finding comparisons between those books would be a good way to look at character complexities and development for some characters in THG. e.g. Peeta

  • Normal iz Boring

    On Selina’s comment about the slower, more resilient students, I think The Hunger Games does bring in those types of kids into the lesson as well. This not only brings a sense of friendship and similar interest to the class room, but those struggling or lazy kids read! (Isn’t that a great thing in and of it self?) They are actually participating because it’s a GOOD BOOK! From my experience, this reaction is nearly impossible with works like The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Flies.
    One does not need to drag through the thick language of the “classics” in order to learn and bring something out of it. If a book isn’t particularly challenging literarily, it doesn’t deem it “of no educational value.” Yet again, I agree with Selina, it is mentally and emotionally challenging.
    Also, from a journalistic point of view, the sentence and plot structure is really quite admirable, and actually was used in my class to teach thusly.
    Anyway, thanks for the podcast!

  • Heatkarma

    Andrew should get the audio  book of  mockingjay at the end 
    Suzanne Collins  ask the reader questions and how to reflect the books in there life, they should answer the question in the next podcast 

    • Betty

      That could be a very fun podcast

  • Amanda Douglas

    I find myself disagreeing with Richard on the fact that the cast for this film is made up of mainly unknown actors. While I agree that I prefer a cast with movie experience, most of the people who have been cast so far, have been for roles of tributes that have no huge part in the books. I don’t think playing a dead-to-be tribute requires that much acting experience.

  • Jeff Dodge

    Ever since the news came out that The Hunger Games has topped Harry Potter on Amazon, I’ve noticed that every single article or discussion about it has left out one of the hugest reasons why. Obviously, the eBooks are a huge reason why, as everyone has already said. But what people are leaving out about the eBooks is that you can buy Hunger Games eBooks on Amazon, but you can’t buy Harry Potter eBooks on Amazon (HP can only be bought on Pottermore). So since one is available on Amazon and one is not, then obviously Hunger Games, which then has a wider availability on Amazon, is going to win.

  • Ksue

    Hi I wanted to chime in on the literary relevance of young adult series. I am an English teacher in an Arab school in Israel. Using YA books to get my students interested in learning English has been revolutionary in my teaching.

    This started nearly three years ago when I was stuck in a rut with a class that should have been a great class. Out of sheer frustration I suggested doing an extracurricular book club. They agreed and chose to read Twilight. The change in the class was amazing (25/36 students participated in biweekly meetings on Saturday mornings!). Their vocabulary, essays and understanding of grammar increased remarkably, and I even had almost no discipline problems in a class that frequently had me tearing my hair out. This class became my most successful yet. Since them I have used Hunger Games as well. 

    Granted I am not teaching students at the level of American high school who should all read classics. However to have gotten students for whom English is their third language to read anything, let alone a 500 page novel in English, is one of my proudest accomplishments. If I were teaching in an American or British school, I would use YA series to get students excited about reading. Almost every series has a “companion” classic literary work: HG and Lord of the Flies or 1984, Twilight has part of a chapter discussing Wuthering Heights and mentions other Bronte works and Percy Jackson is about mythological legends. While I wouldn’t necessarily teach the YA as a stand alone work, I do consider them indispensable as a way into approaching the classic works. In middle schools I would argue for using such series as an easier and more interesting ways to introduce literary terms such as foreshadowing, types of narrative, symbolism. At least one of these terms is used in any book and reading the more popular series and if you are really into the story, you are more likely to try to delve a little deeper. 

    • Me

      You’re awesome.

  • miriam

    hi! awesome show as always guys, your discussions are always as intruiging, and i wish the podcast could come more often! but concerning philip seymour hoffman and his awesome acting skills- see “Capote”, which he won his academy award for. i don’t even know how he does.. just no.

    p.s. SHOUTOUT from scandinavia, selina you are too awesome, lots of love from SVERIGE.

  • zubenelgenubi

    it sounded at some points during this podcast as though none of the hosts were listening to each other; they would follow each other with comments that were totally unrelated to the earlier threads; it was confusing.

  • Me

    I can’t even begin.

  • Amelia

    I really enjoyed this podcast, it was great to hear you guys delve deeper into the literary aspects of the Hunger Games more than usual.
    I agreed with practically everything that Richard said about the lack of literary quality in the trilogy. Whilst, as Selina pointed out, the novel is gripping and Collins has a real talent for forcing the reader to turn the page, it does lack the literary quality and depth that, say, Lord of the Flies, possesses. We studied Lord of the Flies in Year 10 and, while a lot of my class found it challenging/boring, I think students can gain more out of such novels than The Hunger Games.I think the characterisation of a novel is crucial to its literary value, and, as someone said, the characterisation in the Hunger Games is not fantastic. Yes, Katniss is an interesting heroine, but her motives for doing the things she does are always quite clear to the reader, and characters such as Gale and President Snow are very one dimensional.Finally, when reading the Hunger Games, the thing that troubled me the most was that nobody entered the arena with a clear intention not to kill anybody, even if it would cost them their lives. I don’t think that the novels delved deeply enough into the moral issues associated with children being forced to kill other children, and the psychological impact of this. The games were viewed, almost universally, to be abhorrent in that they resulted in the death of several children each year, but it was never really an issue that children were being forced to kill their peers. Like Selina, I was really disappointed in Catching Fire when no one entered the arena refusing to kill.
    Anyway, thanks for delivering such a thought-provoking podcast, it was really enjoyable.

  • d3erudite

    Glad to know that I’m not the only person who thinks Sam Claflin is attractive.

  • DJ Duncan

    stop hatin’ on gambon

  • PotterJayKay


  • Mrs_Badcrumble

    This was a great episode!

    Concerning the literary value of the books, I must say I agree with Richard.
    The Hunger Games could be an interesting book to read and analyze in a Social Studies class, or something of that nature, because then the center focus would be on the general themes of power, government and society, not the literary value or character discussions.
    For an English class I do think the book is a bit simplistic and not challenging enough.
    I do understand Selina’s point when she says teachers should try to motivate all students (from the ones that easily read complex novels, to those who don’t read at all) but when talking about a more advanced class (like in high school) the lower reading students can be encouraged to read these kind of easier books in their own time. From a certain age, students must understand that those class’s are meant to challenge them, help them grow, and not chose the easy, “let’s get this over with” way out.

    Now, another topic I found interesting was your view on Katniss’s murder of Coin. I found that twist really interesting and not necessarily so linear.
    Yes, there is the side of revenge for Prim’s death, but there might be a lot more than that. One can wonder if Katniss wasn’t just another pawn in Snow’s game, his last change to use his power do manipulate and mentally destroy someone.
    And there’s also the anarchy, “V for Vendetta” look on things. Katniss was probably one of the few people who saw Coin for what she was, and knew that, in the end, her rule would be just as unbalanced as Snow’s. So in murdering Coin she could be trying to release Panem of these two rulers who were, in their own different ways, dictators.

    ps: Richard, keep up this more logic, justified and not annoying side of you. It was much more interesting to listen to your rational discussions than your Lindsey Lohan’s constant remarks. =)

  • Deb

    Wow, lots of very thoughtful comments regarding the use of The Hunger Games in the classroom. As an educator, I largely agree with Richard as to the series’ place in the classroom. Selina made 2 points that are completely valid, however. The Hunger Games series may serve very well in a class with struggling readers. The easier readability offers books with complex moral and social issues for discussion, coupled with text that remedial readers can manage. Too often, struggling readers are left with simple text that leaves little to discuss. Secondly, the idea of The Hunger Games used as a type of intro or springboard into similar books like Lord of the Flies or 1984 is a sound one. Great discussion.

  • Michelle Lauren

    One thing I’d like to mention…Our AP World History class had to read a book over the summer and write about the historical context. Books like A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Houssini were on the list, as was The Hunger Games. If you chose The Hunger Games, you had to write about how society and government got to that point, and compare it to events and themes in actual world history. We are Juniors in high school (15,16 years old), so the assignment was self taught. We didn’t discuss it together in class, but it got you thinking about history. I think this is a good way to incorporate The Hunger Games into school, but not have to worry about the reading level or poetic-ness of the book.
    P.S. Sorry this comment is so late!

  • Emma Dobson

    With regards to Josh “buffing up” for Catching Fire; when the Quarter Quell was announced, Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch all trained like Careers, so it makes sense for him to bulk up a bit more for this installment.

  • d3erudite

    On the next episode , can you guys discuss which tribute actors performance you enjoyed the most? (For me it was Alexander Ludwig and Jacqueline Emerson)

  • Riley

    Didn’t Annie Cresta win the Hunger Games without killing
    another tribute? It may not be stated explicitly in the books but I think it is
    implied that Annie only won her games because of her ability to swim, otherwise
    she broke off from all other tributes after her fellow District 4 tribute was
    beheaded in front of her. Foxface also managed not to kill anyone in her
    games and neither Rue nor Peeta killed anyone in the 74th games either I

    As for the books being read for school, at a high school level I think that
    Richard’s argument about lack of complexity is true. I however think that the
    books would be perfect for middle schoolers. Many of the books I read in Middle
    School shared many themes of the Hunger Games (Books such as Hatchet, Lord of
    The Flies, Ender’s Game, The Giver and Running Out of Time.) That being
    said, I think all three books would have to be read in order to really get a
    good analysis. I think that is one of the reasons the Harry Potter books are
    not taught in school because the overall narrative is more rich than any
    individual book in the series.(A honest re-reading of Harry Potter and the
    Philosopher’s Stone trying not to think about future plots and clues laid down
    in the first book makes it a rather simplistic read.) I think Selina has
    a point in saying that the books should be paired with other literary classics
    to really get the most out of them. Many teacher’s curriculum include pieces of
    literature that link to one another thematically throughout the year so I think
    this is do-able. I am also surprised at Richard’s comment that the government
    is simply painted as bad in the series. I believe that Katniss’s conversation
    with Snow in Mockingjay shows that she actually understands the Capitol’s
    thinking in repressing the districts and Coin’s own willingness to re-create
    the cruelty forced upon the districts, as well as observing District 13’s own
    government and way of life, makes Katniss realize that both forms of governemnt
    are undesirable to the populace. I also think that overall the series paints a
    picture that yes freedom must be fought for but that it comes at a HEAVY price
    to ALL. I also think that the series could be compared to modern day pop
    culture but I must also point out that something that is commonly ignored when
    talking about American Reality TV on this show is that majority of the public
    watching is aware that “reality” TV is in fact scripted or situations
    set up and over-acted. The same goes for the Hunger Games, the people watching
    in the districts are well aware of Gamemakers controlling many situations as
    well as the overall pressure from the government to perform brutal killings.

    I also wanted to point out that much like the classics which many have been
    based off of or have elements of classic mythology. The Hunger Games actually
    draws a lot of parallels to Greek & Roman Mythology (thus the name Panem
    and many of the characters names are based off of mythological figures
    Plutarch(A Greek/Roman priest and Essayist),Coriolanus(a legendary cruel Roman
    General) Cinna (The great Roman Consul prior to Caesar).) The concept of
    sending Tributes into a puzzle or maze, such as the area, to fight to the death
    is based of the myth of Crete and Minotaur in which Seven Athenian Boys and
    Girls chosen by lottery were sent into the Labyrinth which held the Minotaur
    to fight to the death. Overall I think the books do provide something
    more than a good read or simple entertainment value.

    • Ethan Z

      Peeta finished off the girl from district 8.

  • Ms Cullen-Weasley-Everdeen

    What say you to this, Richard:


    Wonderful podcast! That may have been my favorite “Hunger Games Chat” so far. Lots of news, fun and the most in-depth discussion to date. Thank you for fabulous entertainment.

    Some of my comments:
    *You all hit on this a little bit, but Richard brought up “Could this really happen?” Selina and Andrew brought up that if you look at the world and news, it does seem possible. Could you use the book in a history class instead of an English class? I know that in my local school districts all disciplines (even some math courses) are trying to infuse reading and writing into the curriculums. (I even took a dance course that you had to write a paper in, simply to fulfill the writing requirement, not because the teacher thought it was important to the class). Does “The Hunger Games” have a place in history courses, but not in English courses (due to it’s lack of literary prowess)? Could you try to get students to draw parallels between the girls in Saudi Arabia who were left in a building to burn to death, with rescue crews outside the building who refused to save their lives, because the girls weren’t wearing the proper school attire and how they allowed children to die in the Hunger Games to prove a point to the districts about their behavior? Would love to hear your thoughts.
    *I would love to hear your thoughts on an upcoming episode about the Capital and it’s similarities/differences to Hollywood, consumerism in America. Do the crazy outfits we see on Lady Gaga and Nikki Manage at awards shows draw too much of a parallel to the Capitals dress? Do song lyrics that focus on “fancy things”, “money” and “being a billionaire” encourage us to strive to live like the people of the Capital?

    *I wanted to touch on Richards comment about Katniss and the rebels fighting “full out”. I realize he was trying to ask if Suzanne Collins was suggesting that all out warfare was the only way to settle issues of oppression. I just kept thinking, “If they already have the Hunger Games, can you imagine what would happen to the districts if they lost a second time? Don’t you have to fight full out in that case?” and “Is there any such thing as half fighting a war?”

    *A lot of people have brought this idea up as well, but there were some non-fighting tributes. They did all enter the games. However, I parallel this to the students who committed suicide in Battle Royale. Entering the games wasn’t a choice, but you could choose not to kill. I don’t believe Rue killed anyone and I saw Mags as committing suicide to save other Tributes. She didn’t fight but she provided as much help as she could and then took her own life by running into the fog. It would have been interesting though, I agree, to have a character try to avoid joining the games and or stating (in the very straightforward manner that Suzanne Collins has with other characters) that they were killing themselves in order to avoid killing or encouraging someone else to put blood on their hands.

    Just some thoughts. I truly admire and appreciate the work you all do!

  • Betty

    Any possibility of the hosts of Hunger Games Chat doing a commentary (like the one Mugglecast did for Deathly Hallows) since the cast/crew did not include one on the DVD?

  • Jackijd

    Great episode guys. Nothing else :)

  • Lan Fong Tang

    Being a single 40 year old woman with no kids & my nieces & nephews past their teenage years, I do not read or have news of children’s books; I’m grateful to the film for introducing me to a series of books I would not have read otherwise. I bought the “Unseen Version” of the film on the UK iTunes Store, on 9th. September 2012, because the plot made me think of the Greek myth & legend the Minotaur. Seeing it for the first time my initial reaction was “I can’t believe this is for children”! After watching it again I was still thinking about it & wanting to know more, I read all three books twice in 10 days. The books made me think even more and, considering it’s for children, the concepts are very adult, mature, dark & very relevant to our present culture. After a further search on iTunes, I found this podcast &, in 3 days of listening to all 20 episodes, I have found your discussions very interesting! My thanks to all of you taking part & I will continue to listen for more up-coming film news & book discussions. PS: I’m with Richard & Selina that there was not enough publicity in the UK, Europe & the rest of the World outside of the US. I did not hear anything about the Hunger Games & it was only the plot reminding me of the Minotaur that made me buy the film in the first place.

  • Seth Wells

    where is the new chat? never got one for last month come on

  • Effie Trinket

    New episode, new episode???… lets not make this turn into imprint.

  • Lacey

    Ok thanks for that thing

  • Hilary Kearns

    I just have one question: where have you guys been? I miss you :(

  • kristen

    ok so when are we getting a new one there is so much to talk about and I went to hear what you all are going to say about it

  • SunWizard94

    So…it’s been quite some time since the last podcast. I know the film still hasn’t wrapped up, but there have been a couple of stories, and there is still plenty to discuss. What’s up guys?

    Also, in retaliation to Richard: Your perception of what makes good, academic literature is seriously warped. There is plenty of literature that is not difficult to read (i.e. Children’s literature such as The Little Prince, Where the Wild Things Are, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid), but that does not make it’s academic worth any less. The reason most of these books are in school is because their themes are so wide but rich with things to analyze that they spark community discussion even from the most un-motivated of youth. I agree, THG, CF, and MJ are NOT the most complex pieces of literature, but that is not enough reason NOT to have them in school. At the end of the day, what is important is that we get kids reading again, get them to use their imagination, get them to take their faces away from screens and into their minds. And that is what these books do, and that is why, though I don’t believe they should be required reading, they should be on a list of suggested books for teens and youth to enjoy in their spare time.

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