The Hunger Games Book Summary - The Hunger Games Book explained in key points
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The Hunger Games summary

Suzanne Collins

A Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia Where Violence Is a Tool to Control

4.8 (14 ratings)
23 mins
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    The Hunger Games
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    The reaping

    Our story begins with heroine Katniss Everdeen waking up on the day of the reaping. That’s what people in Panem call the ceremonial lottery in which two teen tributes from each of the nation’s 12 districts are selected to participate in the yearly Hunger Games.

    Katniss’s little sister Prim has just turned 12 and is now eligible as a tribute.

    But Katniss can’t dwell on her worries too much. Before the ceremony, she meets her best friend Gale in the woods to hunt – something her late father taught her. It’s illegal in Panem and dangerous, but it’s the only way they can feed their families.

    In the afternoon, Katniss gets ready for the reaping. In their best dresses, the children of District 12 line up in the market square. The mayor holds a dramatic speech about the history of Panem and the significance of the Hunger Games. Then, Effie Trinket, a flamboyant emissary from the Capitol, pulls a slip of paper from a glass bowl. She reads out the name of this year’s female tribute: Primrose Everdeen.

    Katniss is paralyzed with shock. Without thinking, she volunteers to take her sister’s place. As she stumbles on stage, the crowd raises their three middle fingers in the air – a gesture of deep respect in Panem.

    Then, Effie announces the boy tribute: Peeta Mellark. Peeta is a baker’s son from the better-off part of District 12. Katniss recalls a time when she was desperate for food, and Peeta threw her some loaves of burnt bread.

    Katniss and Peeta are escorted off stage by Peacekeepers, the Capitol’s militia. They’re allowed to say their goodbyes to their families. Katniss tries to stay strong and reminds her mother, Prim, and Gale to take care of each other. Before she leaves for the Capitol, Madge, the mayor’s daughter, gives her a golden pin of a mockingjay – a bird mutation that’s the result of a failed government experiment and a symbol of the rebellion.


    The first chapters of The Hunger Games introduce us to our heroine Katniss Everdeen. The novel is written from her first-person perspective, so we learn about her circumstances as well as her feelings.

    We learn that she’s extremely devoted to her family, but also very skilled at suppressing her emotions. For instance, there’s a definite romantic tension between Gale and Katniss – but Katniss insists she views him as just a friend.

    We also learn about Panem and District 12, where poverty and hunger are rampant. Most workers spend their days in the dangerous coal mines where Katniss’s own father died years before. The totalitarian government uses violence to keep the districts segregated and in line. The mayor’s speech reveals that the districts tried to rebel before – and that the Hunger Games were established as a punishment for this failed uprising.

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    What is The Hunger Games about?

    The Hunger Games (2008) is the first volume of the popular YA fantasy trilogy. In the post-apocalyptic future state of Panem, teenagers participate in a brutal yearly game show where they compete against each other in a deadly obstacle arena. When her sister is drafted for the games, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place – not realizing she’ll end up fighting for something bigger than mere survival.

    Who should read The Hunger Games?

    • Sci-fi fans and fantasy aficionados
    • Readers who love strong female characters
    • Fans of The Hunger Games movies with Jennifer Lawrence

    About the Author

    Suzanne Collins is an author and television writer. Her YA book trilogy The Hunger Games is a global success. There are two other books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The books have also been adapted into movies. Collins has since written a prequel to the trilogy called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

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