not just for kids

25 F*cked Up Things That Happen in The Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES.
Jennifer Lawrence stars as ‘Katniss Everdeen’ in THE HUNGER GAMES.

Thanks to its staggeringly comprehensive publicity campaign (and some very excited coverage on this particular website), you are by now probably aware that The Hunger Games opens on Friday. For some of you, this date has been circled on the calendar for months. For others — perhaps those among you who do not live and die by young-adult-novel trends — the frenzy may still be a bit confusing, especially if you have reflexively grouped The Hunger Games along with Twilight and other teen fads of late. Why is everyone freaking out about another mopey kids book? you might be thinking, and on that point, you would be wrong. The Hunger Games is not just another kids’ book; The Hunger Games is actually a very dark, messed-up dystopian novel in which young children are forced to kill other children: Kids slaughtering kids, over and over, in graphic and disturbing ways. Except for the omission of rape, slightly bigger font, and far fewer pages, The Hunger Games is not much lighter fare than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But in case you are still not convinced, we have compiled a list of 25 truly fucked-up events that happen over the course of the first Hunger Games book, in the hopes that this evidence as to the story’s intensity will trump the book’s Barnes & Noble section placement. Necessarily, this post contains SPOILERS, though we have tried to make the points as unspecific as possible; but if you were of the school that had completely dismissed the book, perhaps these bloody bullets will let you know what you’re missing. (Also: Most of these instances are depicted in the film, although not always as gorily as Suzanne Collins described in her novel.)

- Each year, the Government (known as the Capitol) forces 24 children from its outlying oppressed districts to fight to the death, on television. The game is over when there is only one child left alive.

- The Capitol forces its citizens to watch their children kill each other (or be killed by the Arena) on television. It is the Capitol’s answer to the Olympics, basically.

- Capitol citizens place bets on the kid-killing.

- All children between 11 and 18 are entered into the contestant drawing; kids can choose to put their names in extra times in exchange for a year’s supply of food. Many do.

- Kids only get to leave the confines of their District if they are chosen to compete in the Hunger Games (put simply: to die).

- Some Districts view competing in the Games as an honor, and they train their children like Spartan warriors.

- The Hunger Games arena is designed to provide the most enjoyable viewing experience for the audience at home — meaning new and visually stimulating death traps like floods, avalanches, and genetically altered mutant creatures.


- A girl is kidnapped, forced into slavery, and has her tongue cut out as punishment for hunting.

- A tiny 11-year-old gets chosen to compete in the Hunger Games.

- A tiny 12-year-old girl actually does compete in the Hunger Games.

- A boy gets knifed in the back (from ten feet away, by a girl who throws knives like darts).

- Twelve kids die in an hour, by violence generally described as “hacking.”

- Dead bodies are removed from the arena instantly to prevent cannibalism (this was apparently an issue in past games).

- The “career Tributes” (the competitors who train for the Games) gang up together and kill an unsuspecting girl in the middle of the night. Then they start celebrating.

- The tributes are chased by a giant wall of fire and missilelike fireballs.

- A girl is killed by genetically altered killer wasps called tracker jackers.

- Another girl passes out for two days and has terrifying acid trip hallucinations (blood trees, ants in her eyes) because of her tracker jacker stings.

- A male tribute snaps another boy’s neck and kills him instantly.

- A 12-year-old girl gets speared in the chest.

- A boy is shot to death with an arrow.

- A boy’s leg gets sliced to the bone with a sword.

- A girl chokes to death on poison berries.

- A girl pins another tribute to the ground, starts choking her, and gives an extended serial-killer-like monologue about making the impending death a “good show.”

- Then her skull gets smashed in by another Tribute.

- Genetically altered wolves feed on a tribute for an entire night. Eventually, another tribute mercy-kills him.

25 F*cked Up Things That Happen in The Hunger Games