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The Long Walk to the Hunger Games

The Long Walk to The Hunger Games
A fine literary tradition of young people in peril.

I’m about a quarter of the way through The Hunger Games and am enjoying it so far. I’ve gotten past my initial reaction of “Hey, this is a watered down Battle Royale!” and have been thinking about the novel’s other antecedents, which are all novels that I enjoyed. I like what Collins is doing with their DNA.

Of course, I had to make a chart. And of course the chart got bigger ( I have gone back and added to it three times while writing this post). The simple progression above represents the stories and novels that share major plot points (a death lottery and government sanctioned child killing as mass entertainment). Let me stop right here and tell you to read Battle Royale. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’d actually recommend that you skip it in favor of the novel. If you have seen the movie, read the novel. Now, I haven’t gotten to the actual killing part of The Hunger Games yet, but I feel safe in making an assumption that the violence is much more graphic in Battle Royale, so consider yourself warned.

The Long Walk is one of the pulp novels that Stephen King wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, and features kids being killed directly by the government rather than being forced to kill each other, so it’s slightly less horrific than Battle Royale. It’s a solid sci-fi/thriller hybrid by a gifted story teller.

Oh, and I can’t imagine anyone hasn’t read “The Lottery” but, if you haven’t, you can read it here.

A longer walk.
A few more stops along the way.

As for the expanded chart, it includes a few novels, stories and movies that are definitely related to The Hunger Games, but not quite as strongly. And, yes, I realize I used a movie poster to represent “The Most Dangerous Game,” but the book covers were all really ugly and that poster is beautiful (and that pre-code movie is great).  I also realize that Predator doesn’t really connect to The Hunger Games, but how can I have “The Most Dangerous Game” on there and not link it to Predator? How?

I also like how Richard Bachman has two novels on the chart and isn’t even a real person!

7 comments on “The Long Walk to the Hunger Games

  1. I liked book 1 and 2 of Hunger Games but felt book 3 left a lot to be desired. Curious to hear your reaction.

  2. how about “A Maze of Death” by Philip K. Dick…shouldn’t it be in there somewhere?

  3. Wait! Adding “A Maze of Death” to my reading list. How have I not read it?
    Oh man, I suppose I need to put “Arena” on there too (both the Fredric Brown story and the Star Trek episode with the Gorn).

  4. david brogno

    I seem to remember a short story or novella I read in high school back in the mid-1970s that had a very similar plot. The difference was that the two “sides” were the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Each put up a team of soldiers to fight it out to the last man’s (yes only men were allowed to fight) death in an arena on an island. The losing team had to pay tribute and reparations to the winner over a defined period of time. Any survivors on the winning team were granted lifetime immunity from prosecution for any crime and were also given a generous lifetime pension. I thought the story had been written by Harlan Ellison but in searching his works I can’t find it. Anybody have any idea what I’m referring to?

  5. Pingback: Tad’s 2013 Summer Reading Suggestions | LOS ANGELES: 2019

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