The Hunger Games: What Happens Next

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A few days ago Scholastic released the cover of the new Hunger Games novel on its blog. It looks like this:

The Hunger Games, as you may know, is a big-time YA series about a girl named KatnipKatniss who lives in a future dystopia where every year the ruling caste forces a bunch of kids to fight each other in an arena. Twenty-four kids enter, one kid leaves. If any of the above is news to you, stop reading, because from hereon in we go spoiler.

At the end of the second book, Catching Fire — seriously stop reading if you haven’t gotten this far — Katniss and the gang bust out of the arena and head for the mysterious District 13. Peeta is captured. District 12 is destroyed.

When we read the first two books in my book group (we only read YA), I was surprised to learn that some people actually care about the Peeta/Gale/Katniss love triangle and the struggle for freedom against the Capitol. They don’t do what I do, which is to just read the fighting parts and skim everything else. My only hope for Mockingjay is that somehow, some way, we get back to the heart of the series, which is teenagers killing each other for sport. I mean, come on. It’s not a Hunger Games novel if there’s no Hunger Games.

But how? I offer you three scenarios:

— Team Katniss overthrows the Capitol, and to punish the evil rulers, they throw them into the Arena and watch them kill each other. Granted, watching a bunch of overfed sybarites slap each other to death isn’t as much fun — you can just picture the jiggling man-boobs — but the punishment fits the crime.

— Team Katniss fights its way into the Capitol, but are seduced by the delights they find there. They kill all the Capitol’s inhabitants, take over, and keep on holding Hunger Games as before because, you know, there’s nothing else on. Hey, it’s dark. But you didn’t see it coming.

— Team Katniss wins, but they still have to resolve the question of Katniss’s divided affections: she has to choose between Gale and Peeta. The two boys handpick a Dirty Dozen each and head into the Arena to fight it out like men. Winner gets to marry Katniss.

Of course Team Gale kicks Team Peeta’s ass in about 30 seconds, since Peeta is a huge drip. What, is he gonna bake Gale to death? His last words are: “at least we had teh makeouts in book one.”