In a media landscape that now seems to be littered with dystopian fiction, The Hunger Games trilogy of books and films (or quadrilogy of films if you want to get technical about it) manages to stand out as a thrilling and thoughtful entry into the exceptionally popular genre. Furthermore, the franchise's success was well warranted.
The books do an excellent job of challenging their readers to think about some pretty serious political ideas about fascism, police states, media manipulation, and the power of the people, all while keeping them riveted with a great story.
After the success of the original books, the world was understandably pretty thrilled when author Suzanne Collins announced her plans for a prequel to The Hunger Games. The idea of exploring Panem in it's earlier days is definitely pretty exciting. However, The Hunger Games left readers with some burning questions, and we desperately hope the prequel might provide some answers!
10 Who Created The Hunger Games?
The idea behind the Hunger Games is a pretty simple one to understand, but it's a strange idea to just come up with on your own. The Hunger Games works well because it provides a source of entertainment for the people of Panem, and it's useful because the fear that your children are constantly in danger is a reliable way for a totalitarian regime to keep its population in line.
Who was the person who initially came up with the idea and played it out to its logical conclusion? How did they sell the government on such a huge and risky investment that could have just as easily backfired?
9 What Was The War Actually Like?
Like most things in The Hunger Games, we know the story of the First Rebellion in Panem according to what Panem wants its citizens to know. Like most things, Panem doesn't want their citizens to know much about the event.
We can, of course, speculate what the cause may have been, likely just years of mistreatment from the Capitol that reached a boiling point, but what really happened? How did it start? How did it end? How did the entire country lose against the Capitol, which seems like it would be relatively weak and easy to beat in comparison to all of the other districts combined? And why did District 13 decide to end the war in a truce with the Capitol?
8 How Did Panem Become A Country?
We know that Panem is the country that arose from the ashes of what used to be the United States, and is possibly all that remains of North America. Some sort of cataclysmic event ended the US civilization as we know it, and we legitimately do not know what the world is like outside of Panem, or if anything else exists in the world at all.
How did this incredibly harsh totalitarian state develop? When and how was it created? How long has it even existed? It's no surprise that Panem wanted to erase any history predating its rule, but that only makes us all that more curious.
7 Where Are The Districts?
There are many different plausible theories about all of the districts of Panem (and as you can see we have a pretty firmly established theory of our own), but ultimately those are just theories. The actual borders of Panem's districts, as well as the borders of Panem itself, are still a mystery.
Just based on their industries it's easy to get the very vaguest idea of each district's location, but there isn't much clarity beyond that. It seems like Suzanne Collins wanted this aspect to remain foggy because seeing The Hunger Games through the eyes of Katniss means that we don't know anything beyond what she knows about her world (which ultimately isn't a whole lot). Maybe the prequel will shine more light on the world these people live in.
6 What Is Outside Of Panem?
One of the most interesting mysteries about the world of The Hunger Games is what exactly that world even is. It seems like a safe bet that significant portions of the east and west coast of the former US are uninhabitable because the speculated capitol of Panem is what used to be Denver.
While the protection of the mountains certainly offers its advantages, it's also safe to assume there were a lot of American cities that would have made more logical centers than Denver. Aside from that, we have absolutely no idea if any other countries still exist and what those places are like now.
5 Was The Capitol Always That Crazy?
Something that certainly sticks out about the original The Hunger Games trilogy is the absolutely absurd and almost cartoonish behavior of the Capitol's residents. Even after decades, it can be kind of hard to believe that societal culture could shift so dramatically towards such extremes.
Keeping the ruling class happy and satisfied is a key element to any successful tyrannical regime, but the fashions and social norms that we see as standard in the Capitol must have evolved from something else originally.
4 What Happened To The United States?
Anyone familiar with The Hunger Games is aware that Panem is the country that exists where the United States, or whatever is now left of the United States, used to be. Seeing as the regime of Panem isn't too fond of sharing information with its citizens, it is incredibly unclear what exactly happened to the United States.
Panem is possibly meant to be an allegory of the rise and fall of Rome, but what about the rise and fall of the US? Clearly, a lot of extreme events happened between now and this imaginary undefined future, but it's hard to imagine what could have caused America to completely dissolve like that.
3 What Really Happened With District 13?
If you've read or watched The Hunger Games trilogy then you should be aware of the PR story that Panem told it's twelve districts about the legendary District 13, and you're aware that their PR story is a lie and that District 13 still exists, but there isn't a lot more information about the lost district beyond that.
District 13 rebelled against the Capitol and that rebellion ended in a truce. What was that battle like and how did Panem erase all historical record and memory of whatever happened in that presumably intense fight?
2 How Did The Capitol Maintain Power?
The Capitol is the ruling district that harshly controls and mistreats all of the other districts of Panem. One of the most curious parts is the mere fact that the Capitol has been able to maintain control for so long, especially when you consider the existential threat that District 13 posed to them.
The Capitol may be the ruling class, but they don't have an enormous amount of power to back that up, especially when you consider the vastness that is Panem. The Capitol successfully controlled the country for decades, but undoubtedly that control was difficult to maintain.
1 Who's The Person Behind The Curtain?
One of the overarching themes of The Hunger Games is fighting against "the man," and how flexible and fluid the idea of a singular oppressor can be. Katniss fights against the Capitol, against President Snow, and against President Coin, and her journey really demonstrates that oppression can come from a lot of different sources.
It also demonstrates that when a system of oppression exists you can't just cut off the head and expect the body to die. In the nation's early years, who was the person behind the curtain shaping Panem's future?