Forgotten Classic by Suzanne Collins

If you’re a frequent visitor to this site, odds are good you have read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy and joined in our discussion here of that series’ artistry and meaning. If you haven’t read the books (or even if you have), it’s still likely you know the stories from the disappointing adaptations of the novels into films. You may even have read Collins’ five Gregor the Overlander novels, books that will never become movies, fascinating and enchanting as they are. I bought and Collins’ first book post Hunger Games, an illustrated childrens book called Year of the Jungle, but I don’t know anybody else who has.

I learned about another book while writing ‘Whatever Happened to Suzanne Collins,’ one she wrote in the midst of her Gregor series (2005). It is When Charlie McButton Lost Power, a children’s book in rhyming AABB quatrains that was illustrated by Mike Lester.

In brief, Charlie McButton is a child addicted to video games who goes into withdrawl when the electrical power goes out at his house and his computer won’t work. He has a battery-operated game — but there are no batteries in it! He tries to take the ones in his younger sister’s dolly, is punished, and yells at his sister. He repents — and, when his time-out punishment is over, he plays imaginative games with his sister and discovers how great life can be without video games. The End.

The poetry, a la Dr Seuss, is clever and captivating, and the Lester illustrations are funny. What is bizarre about the book, though, is its relevance today. See Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows or Jean-Claude Larchet’s The New Media Epidemic if you’re not aware that we are all Charlie McButton, and, short of an epic catastrophe depriving us of electrical power for months, there is little hope that we will escape those shallows for the happy ending Collins’ Charlie experiences.

It’s a book worth reading once — and even to purchase and own if it completes your Collins Collection as this one does mine! Or you can just listen to it being read aloud below!

Whatever Happened to Suzanne Collins?

Last week, after posting my disappointment about the Hunger Games Theme Park in China, I was reminded that it was not only a Panem-Capitol destination but a disneyland-esque for Twilight fans to gather. I had asked just a few days earlier Whatever Happened to Stephenie Meyer? and I guess the Chinese theme park had to be considered a partial answer to that question, if one has to doubt they are consulting the authors of the original novels for the workings of what are in essence CGI-infused amusement park rides.

That association of posts, though, made me wonder. Rowling has all but disappeared from public view; she has left her twitter platform and life as celebrity author for what we hope is the daily, focused grunt work necessary to complete a novel or screenplay. Meyer has continued to write and to be active in film production but few care; again, her latest novel, The Chemist, does not even have a dedicated wikipedia page more than two years after its publication, a roll-out that included 500,000 copies.

And Suzanne Collins? What is she up to? Is she living the private life a la Rowling, dedicating her focus to family and craft? Or is she working hard on projects few people care about?

In what is something like a draft of the HogwartsProfessor Pillar Post for The Hunger Games (Sort Of!), you can see how seriously I take Collins’ work. She’s that good. But it’s been more than ten years since the debut of Games. What is she working on?

Turns out, nobody knows, or, if they know, they aren’t talking about it online. All I found were a few internet pages that went up to mark the tenth anniversary in 2018.

Back in 2013, Suzanne revealed at a book expo that she was working on a much anticipated new series. But that was nearly five years ago, and she’s had no new publications.

She has no social media and hasn’t been the subject of very many articles for years. She’s revealed hardly anything about her personal life, only that she is married to actor Cap Pryor and lives in Connecticut with him and their two children.

This a fascinating article, an interview with Collins, that the Times contributed nothing to except for a quick edit:

In a 10th anniversary edition of the book, which hits stores this month, David Levithan, a vice president and publisher at Scholastic Press, interviewed Collins. An excerpt from that interview, including potential spoilers, is below, condensed and edited for clarity and length.

For Collins fans, this is a must read. The information she shares in the staged exchange with her editor about Just War Theory (which pretty much nails down the idea she is some flavor of Roman Catholic?), the several strands that made up the genesis of Hunger Games beyond the reality teevee programming in palimset with war footage on the news from Iraq, her sources for the Theseus nythological elements of the story — really this is a treasure chest of an interview.

But it is obviously just those questions Collins wanted to answer that matched up with what Scholastic thought she should talk about (and, my, oh, my, is she a team player about the films that were made from her stories, if she does make it clear how many hands her original screenplay went through before it was filmed and released to theaters). There is nothing about what she is working on, excited about reading, or her ideas about the legacy of her two series.

I throw this link on the page for the uber Hunger Games fan and serious reader who wants to peruse what passes as criticism today in the New Media and what they have to say about Collins’ trilogy. A clue? It isn’t Hunger Games that is shocking but the pedestrian, political, PC, and provincial posturing to be found here that doesn’t even begin to explain what made these books resonate so profoundly with readers. After reading this article of sound bites, I had to spend an hour or so with Lana Whited’s Critical Insights: The Hunger Games Trilogy as a kind of mental floss and depth freshener.

But there was nothing in the Vox piece about what Collins is up to, either.

My hope? That this departure from any kind of celebrity activity and publicity seeking is testimony to the author’s determination to avoid Gamesmaker status and to duck the seemingly unavoidable appearances as a citizen of The Capitol her status as best-selling author entitle her to. It’s possible that she has taken the money — and as the Kindle book best-seller world champion ten years on, there’s lots of money, not to mention film and theme park residuals — and done with it what she will out of the public eye and to build the necessary walls to protect her and family’s privacy.

God willing, Collins is writing and we will enjoy her new work. Whether she is or isn’t, though, isn’t her example of prudence, modesty, and retreat as admirable as Rowling’s charitable works in the public realm — and much more unusual? Perhaps Rowling has come to the same alocal place and decided finding reverse was the best gear for her, too. More power to anyone who has the courage and freedom to deny the Fame Beast its pound of soul-and-flesh.

‘Hunger Games’ Theme Park in China

I am a fan-boy for everything Suzanne Collins writes. I loved her five Gregor the Overlander books, I think that The Hunger Games trilogy is as good and in some ways better than Harry Potter, and I’ve even read and enjoyed Year of the Jungle.

I have, though, only seen the movie adaptation of Collins’ first Hunger Games novel; I thought that film so bizarrely tone-deaf to everything that book was about — an assault on the Gamesmakers of the Capitol-ist regime today — that I avoided the next three movies made by the Gamesmakers to celebrate Gamesmakers as the real heroes of the Resistance. See ‘Gamesmakers Hijack Story: Capitol Wins Hunger Games Again’ for more on that. 

As unfortunate and perhaps inevitable as the beyond satire ‘transformation in adaptation’ experience to be had in the movie making of Collins’ anti-Gamesmakers novels, today I learned that Lionsgate has opened a Hunger Games theme park in the People’s Republic of China.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some of Lionsgate’s most popular film franchises from “Hunger Games” to “Twilight” will be brought to life when the studio opens what it calls the world’s first vertical theme park in China this summer.

Lionsgate Entertainment World will offer several adventures including a virtual reality motorcycle ride based on “Twilight,” a maximum-security prison breakout like in “Escape Plan” and a replica of The Capitol lobby from “Hunger Games,” complete with shops where guests can fashion themselves in the film’s distinctive couture….

Based on the four-part film series starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, park goers will journey through a motion simulator 3D ride experience called The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape. It starts on the streets before riders board a vehicle that gets picked up by a hovercraft that flies through The Capitol.

Guests will also have the opportunity to venture around the lobby area of The Capitol where they can get their hair, makeup and even nails done to look like a citizen of the “Hunger Games” films, including the look of chaperone Effie Trinket.

Restaurants will feature a “Hunger Games”-themed menu with different dishes inspired by the film’s various districts.

A movie-adaptation of The Hunger Games is guaranteed to be an exercise in irony.

A theme park where paying customers line up to become citizens of the Capitol is at least an exponentially more difficult trick to pull off without contradicting the message of the stories.

And a theme park in China? C’mon.

This would be the People’s Republic of China with a million or more Muslims in concentration camps, the China that is using facial recognition software and social media tracking and accounting to police the behavior of its citizens, and the China that has “relaxed” its one child program — and continues to force women to have abortions, a procedure of government sanctioned and sponsored violence-akin-to-rape and murder. The China that is a living, dynamic, totalitarian-state nightmare and Orwellian hell. It is The Capitol and paranoid police-state District 13 of Collins’ dystopian novel rolled into one and writ larger than even the United States, Collins’ more obvious target in her book series.

This China is where Lionsgate is building a theme park with Hunger Games rides, on which park-goers, playing the part of Resistance Rebels, tour the Capitol — and can get made-up to play the part of the citizens of the Capitol. You know, the people for whom the Hunger Games, the last-man standing contest of tribute-children from the Districts murdering one another in state-sponsored entertainment, are designed as reality television programming.

This theme park is so far beyond satire as to be physically sickening. I want very much to believe that Suzanne Collins has nothing to do with this but have to ask myself if that isn’t risibly naive on my part.

Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The best discussion to be found about the artistry and meaning of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is hiding in the archives of, especially the posts written soon after the publication of Mockingjay. For the complete set of those posts just scroll down but the ‘Greatest Hits’ from that flood include:

We hit another round of in-depth discussion around the release of the first films. For the round-up of 35 posts about the books and their adaptations, scroll down or check this out. The best from that lot, I think, are:

There are many, many more Hunger Games posts in the archives that have gone up since the last films were released. Please search the site via the search engine on the Home Page! Here are seven of the more challenging:

The HogwartsProfessor Series on Mockingjay and the Series as a Whole (Summer 2010):

The first 30 Hunger Games discussion threads from the three weeks after Morningjay’s publication are listed below.  (nota Bene: The first ten threads were started the first morning post-publication and reflect a hurried first reading.)

The First Month of Posts at the Release of the First Film (March, 2012):

Posts are in sequence of beginning to end of month and those of greater depth or which drew the greater number and quality of responses are highlighted:

For historians curious about the conversation before we had the finale, here are those pre-Mockingjay speculative and interpretative posts.

The Lead-Up to Mockingjay’s Publication (2010)

Posts by John Granger:

Posts by Elizabeth Baird Hardy:

Posts by Louise Freeman:

Harry Potter by the Numbers: 1,084,170

Your indispensable morning factoid and invaluable follow-on information! Here are the number of words in the Harry Potter novels and comparisons with the word counts of other well-known works.

Quantity is not quality, of course, but don’t make the mistake of neglecting that quantity is one quality — and not an unimportant one. If your spoon at breakfast weighed thity five pounds, you might have had less oatmeal.

So, how many words are there in Harry Potter? More than a million. Via

  • How many words are in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? There are 76,944 words.
  • How many words are in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? There are 85,141 words.
  • How many words are in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? There are 107,253 words.
  • How many words are in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? There are 190,637 words.
  • How many words are in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? There are 257,045 words.
  • How many words are in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? There are 168,923 words.
  • How many words are in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? There are 198,227 words.

The Harry Potter books contain 1,084,170 words

Order of the Phoenix is 1/4 of the total, just a tad short of the first three books’ word counts combined.

More to the point, any class requiring students to read the series before registering is setting a million word point-of-entry.

I’m pretty sure that’s a unique threshold outside of Old Testament studies in Divinity School.


Other Word Counts for Famous Novels as Points of Reference —  Via

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