The Evolution of the Games


Sage P

A Day Creek Coyote enjoying the first book of The Hunger Games series.

Shreya P. and Maddie S.

Since 2008, The Hunger Games book series has been an iconic story of war, love, and loss for young readers across the globe. Teens and adults alike have been captivated by the characterization and plot throughout these books. Years later, a new medium was introduced as the book version exploded onto the big screen.

On November 17, 2023, the movie version of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be released. Movie watchers around the world are anticipating this long-awaited film. 

While many are familiar with the three main books and four movies, few seem to have read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which actually takes place before the well-known series involving Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and Haymitch. Instead, this tale depicts the childhood of Panem’s leader, President Snow.

As president, Snow is feared, yet respected in his reign over Panem. Though he is not a Gamemaker, he also controls the Hunger Games. 

President Snow gives the people exactly what they want: entertainment. Panem finds joy in betting on winners and losers, and Snow sits back and smiles: “We swore as a nation we would never undergo this war again. And so it was decreed that each year the Hunger Games would take place, and one winner would be crowned…If we just wanted to intimidate the districts, why not round up 24 of them at random and execute them all at once?” Snow said.

While The Hunger Games is all about the 74th Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows Coriolanus Snow as he mentors a tribute for the 10th Games. 

In this rendition, Snow is only 18 years old, yet he is already a Games mentor. The tribute that Snow must mentor is from District 12, which is incredibly ironic. Snow has always looked down upon the poorer, less glamorous districts. In The Hunger Games, a Gamemaker tries to convince Snow that “everyone likes an underdog,” and Snow simply replies, “I don’t.”

With more competing mediums available to the public, a debate began. Which told the story better? The Hunger Games book series or the movies? Day Creek students argue for each one, but their reasons differ.

Some believe that graphics in the movies help them understand the story better, while others say that the details in the books are more descriptive.

“I prefer the movies because they are more specific about how each character dies. You can really see the tears and how the actor reacts,” said Sienna S. 

Sienna appreciates the visuals and audio cues of the movie, which lines with data from the National Institutes of Health. Their recent study found that 65% of people are visual learners, meaning that they process information better by watching a film instead of reading a book.

“I enjoy movies because they help me visualize the plot and characters through special dialogue,” said sixth-grader Adam M. 

Movies captivate the viewer’s interest because they value the reality and emotion displayed through sound and video. Actors in movies can express their emotions differently than what’s depicted on the pages of a novel.

“I think movies are better because the actors give [the story line] more detail which helps me understand it more,” said seventh-grader Mackenzie R. 

Some students disagreed, arguing for the book version. Word choice and detail provide readers the freedom to envision the plot themselves.

“I like the books better because they allow me to look into my own brain and imagine the story. The words are often more descriptive and help me understand the plot better,” said seventh-grader Jolie A. 

The words on a page have a specific way of connecting to the reader, making the story relatable as it displays the heart and soul of each character. One clear example is shown through Peeta Mellark, a 16-year-old baker who competes in The Hunger Games with his classmate, Katniss Everdeen.

“Peeta is strong, cool, awesome, and he’s the love of my life,” says Marley M. “He’s my screensaver…it’s seriously a problem.” 

Marley, along with many others, fangirl over the strength of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian tale. Marley isn’t alone, as there are many characters in The Hunger Games that have captured the attention of the reader. To her chagrin, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes doesn’t include this alluring actor. And this reflects the argument that won’t end anytime soon. With an upcoming prequel to the captivating movie series competing against the legacy of the classical quartet, which one would you choose? The debate between book and movie series rages on. Bring it on, President Snow!