Years before the start of the series, the thirteen districts attempted to start a revolution against the Capitol. The Capitol won, District 13 was destroyed and, as punishment, an annual televised death match called The Hunger Games was created by the Capitol. Two participants, one male and one female, known as tributes, between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen randomly in a "reaping" from each district. Children may volunteer as a tribute instead of selection by ballot. They are taken to an arena and fight until only one is left alive.
Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year-old girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games after her 12-year-old sister Primrose Everdeen is picked for reaping. She survives the games along with Peeta Mellark when they both defy the Capitol by threatening to commit suicide.
The Capitol is angry at their defiance, which inspires rebellion in several districts. Katniss and Peeta tour the districts, attempting to subdue the rebellion. Then, the reaping for the next Hunger Games takes place. For these games, part of the "Quarter Quell" that takes place every 25 years, winners of past games are forced to participate. When only a few participants remain in the games, including Katniss and Peeta, the arena is destroyed. Three of the tributes, including Katniss, are rescued by survivors of District 13, but the other three tributes, including Peeta, are captured by Capitol hovercraft.
The rebellion continues with Katniss being used as a figurehead.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in place of her younger sister Primrose Everdeen. Also participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a boy who has developed a secret crush on Katniss. They are mentored by District 12's only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, who won the Games 24 years earlier and has since assumed a solitary life of alcoholism. Peeta confesses his love for Katniss in a television interview prior to the Games, leading the Capitol to portray Katniss and Peeta as "star-crossed lovers." This revelation surprises Katniss, who harbors feelings for Gale Hawthorne, her friend and hunting partner. Haymitch advises Katniss to play along and feign feelings for Peeta, in order to gain wealthy sponsors who can gift them supplies during the Games. In the arena, Katniss develops an alliance with Rue, a young tribute from District 11, and is emotionally scarred when Rue is killed because she reminds Katniss of her sister. Katniss devises a memorial for Rue by placing flowers over her body as an act of defiance toward the Capitol. More than halfway through the Games, the remaining tributes are alerted to a rule change that allows both tributes from the same district to be declared victors if they are the final two standing. After learning of the change, Katniss and Peeta begin to work as a team. When all of the other tributes are dead and they appear to win the Games together, the rule change is revoked. Katniss leads Peeta in a double suicide attempt to eat poisonous berries known as nightlock, hoping that the change will be reinstated and that they will both be victorious. Their ruse is successful, and both tributes return home victorious. During and after the Games, Katniss develops genuine feelings for Peeta and struggles to balance them with the connection she feels with Gale. When it becomes clear that the Capitol is upset with her defiance, Haymitch encourages Katniss to maintain the "star-crossed lovers" act, without telling Peeta.
In Catching Fire, which begins six months after the conclusion of The Hunger Games, Katniss learns that her defiance in the previous novel has started a chain reaction that has inspired rebellion in the districts. President Snow threatens to harm her family and friends if she does not help to defuse the unrest in the districts and marry Peeta. Meanwhile, Peeta has become aware of Katniss's disingenuous love of him, but has also been informed of Snow's threats, and promises to help keep up the act to spare the citizens of District 12. They tour the districts as victors and plan a public wedding. While they follow Snow's orders and keep up the ruse, Katniss inadvertently fuels the rebellion, and the mockingjay pin she wears becomes its symbol. District by district, the citizens of Panem begin to stage uprisings against the Capitol. Snow announces a special 75th edition of the Hunger Games—known as the Quarter Quell—in which Katniss and Peeta are forced to compete with other past victors, effectively canceling the wedding. At Haymitch's urging, the pair team up with several other tributes, managing to destroy the arena and escape the Games. Katniss is rescued by the rebel forces from District 13, and Gale informs her that the Capitol has destroyed District 12 and captured Peeta and their District 7 ally, Johanna Mason. Katniss ultimately learns—to her surprise—that she had inadvertently been an integral part of the rebellion all along; her rescue had been jointly planned by Haymitch, Plutarch Heavensbee and Finnick Odair, among others.
Katniss returns home and sees the remains of District 12. Mockingjay centers on the districts' rebellion against the Capitol. It is revealed that District 13 survived The Dark Days by living underground and is led by President Alma Coin. Katniss, after being brought to 13, agrees to become the 'Mockingjay' to recruit more rebels from the districts. She sets conditions that Peeta, Johanna Mason, Annie Cresta, and Enobaria, fellow victors captured by the Capitol, would not be seen as traitors and a condition where Katniss would be able to kill Snow as an act of vengeance if the rebels won. It is revealed that Peeta has been 'hijacked', brainwashed using Tracker Jacker venom, to kill Katniss. He tries to choke her to death upon their reunion. After her healing, Katniss and a team known as the Star Squad, consisting of Gale, Peeta, Finnick, camera crew, and various other soldiers, embark on a mission to go to the Capitol to kill Snow, thus winning the rebellion. Throughout their mission, many members of the Squad die in various ways, including just-married Finnick. Towards the end of the book as Katniss approaches Snow's mansion, she sees a group of Capitol children protecting the entrance to the mansion as a shield and suddenly a Capitol hovercraft drops bombs, killing the children. The rebels send in medics, including Prim. An unexploded bomb goes off killing Prim instantly as soon as she notices her sister. Katniss, also injured, wakes up after being in a coma to hear that the Rebels have won and Snow is awaiting execution, which Katniss will be allowed to carry out. On meeting with Snow, he suggests that it was in fact the rebels, led by Coin, who hijacked the Capitol hovercraft and killed Prim in a move to portray Snow as barbaric. The remaining victors are then asked by Coin to vote on a final Hunger Games, using the children of high ranking Capitol officials (including Snow's granddaughter), in order to punish the Capitol for their crimes against the districts. At Snow's execution, Katniss instead kills Coin and Snow dies by choking on his own blood while laughing. This leads to Katniss's prosecution but she is deemed innocent as the jury believed she was not in a fit mental state. Katniss is sent home to District 12, Katniss's mother and Gale both take jobs in different districts. In the epilogue, Katniss and Peeta remain together, Peeta's love having won out against the venom. The pair have two children, a boy and a girl.