With the movie fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about The Hunger Games (and, yes, the fact that I won’t be seeing the movie adaptation during the opening week).
The Hunger Games is a story of survival filled with action and the promise of excitement and intrigue. Already a wildly popular book, readers will tell you that what truly sets this series apart are the unique characters.
While Katniss is a huge part of what makes The Hunger Games so strong and so very compelling, the book is also filled with secondary characters that bring the story and the world of Panem to life. Without them, Katniss would have been very lonely (though perhaps slightly safer). But this series is still ultimately Katniss’ story more than anything else, which is why it only makes sense that some characters got less attention than readers would have liked.
Here are some of the characters I would have loved to see more of:
Gale: Much as it pains me to mention Gale and not Peeta, it was really unavoidable here. Peeta might be with Katniss during the Games, but Gale plays a much larger role in Katniss’s daily life in District 12. Despite his importance to Katniss, we learn very little about Gale as the focus of the story shifts from District 12 to the Capitol. We would have liked to see a bit of Gale’s reactions to Katniss’s Game strategies, not to mention learning a bit more about his own family.
Effie Trinket: Preferring the comforts and sparkle of the Capitol to the isolation and grime of District 12, Effie is the reluctant escort of District 12 Tributes on their journey to the arena each year. In all of her previous years, her obligations ended very soon after the Games began. No one knows what Effie did to garner such an unenviable post, or what she does between Games, but we certainly wish we did.
Cinna: In charge of Katniss’ team of stylists, Cinna and his counterpart Portia help make Katniss and Peeta the Tributes to watch before either of them set foot in the arena. Equal parts mentor, ally, and clothes designer, Cinna clearly has hidden depths beyond what the book reveals, not to mention he knows how to rock that gold eyeliner.
Caesar Flickerman: There isn’t much more to say about the Capitol’s favorite television host or his signature interviews with the Tributes each year. But, really, who doesn’t want to know more about a character being played by Stanley Tucci?
Rue: The smallest and youngest Tribute, no one expects Rue to last long in the arena. Despite her small size and youth, Rue proves to be a formidable ally for Katniss during the Games as well as a friend. While we know what happens to Rue in the arena, her life in District 11 before becoming a Tribute largely remains a mystery.
Thresh: As Rue’s counterpart from District 11, Thresh is her complete opposite—a large, formidable figure among the Tributes. Like Rue, Thresh’s past remains unknown. His own motives during his final encounter with Katniss in the arena are equally mysterious.
Foxface: Possibly the smartest Tribute in the 74th Hunger Games, Foxface is so enigmatic we do not even know her real name. Relying on stealth and cunning, Foxface survives in the arena by staying in the background. It would have been interesting to see how growing up in District 5 informed her strategy or if her mentor had something to do with that.
The Career Tributes: With names like Glimmer, Cato, Clove and Marvel it’s hard to forget the Tributes who have spent all of their lives training to take part in the Hunger Games. Coming from lives of wealth and privilege in Districts that are favored by the Capitol, their situation could not be more different from that of Katniss and Peeta. We would have loved to better understand why volunteering to participate in a fight to the death made sense to them.
Madge: Daughter of District 12’s mayor, Madge’s life is removed from the poverty of Katniss’s daily life and the dangers of the Quell that selects Tributes each year. Still, Madge gives Katniss a Mockingjay brooch as a token to bring into the arena. We never learn why Madge gave her the pin or what happens to her later in the story (I honestly always thought she was severely under-developed/under-utilized in the later books). She also won’t be appearing in the movies at all. Some characters just don’t get a break.
Catching Fire is my favorite book in the trilogy by a wide margin. I could happily have read many more books about the events in Catching Fire as well as the mechanics of the Games and the Districts–the world Collins created is that fascinating. That said, it makes complete sense that some characters left me wanting more later in the series.
Finnick: Simultaneously annoying and awesome, Finnick might be my favorite secondary character from the series. While we get a lot of details about Finnick’s life as the story progresses, I still would have liked more just because he’s such a fun character. (I may or may not be mildly crazed as I wait to see who will be playing Finnick in the second Hunger Games film.)
Johanna Mason: Brash and more than willing to put Katniss in her place, Johanna is another character who comes to life on the page even without her backstory being fully developed. During the casting for the first movie, I heard that Kristen Bell was lobbying heavily to play Mason. Since then, I’ve come to fully support this idea and honestly might be inconsolable should the part go to someone else.
Nuts and Volts: It’s hard to think of these two separately. While certainly not the savviest, these two are easily the most intelligent tributes Collins introduced to readers. It would have been interesting to see what brought this wacky pair together as friends.
Now you know the characters that I wish got more attention in The Hunger Games. Let me know what characters you would have liked to see more of in the comments.
A shorter version of this entry was originally posted at 20SomethingReads.