The Hunger Games

Novels

Trilogy

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is the first book in the series and was released on September 14, 2008.

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 selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, who once saved Katniss from starvation when they were children. They are mentored by their district's only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, who won 24 years earlier and has since led a solitary life of alcoholism.

Peeta confesses his longtime secret love for Katniss in a televised interview prior to the Games. This revelation stuns Katniss, who usually does not allow herself to think of romantic attraction due to her traumatic childhood and her fear of losing future children to the Hunger Games. However, she believes that Peeta is only feigning love for her as a tactic for the Games.

In the arena, Peeta saves Katniss’s life multiple times without her realizing. Katniss allies with Rue, a young tribute from District 11 who reminds Katniss of her sister. When Rue is killed, Katniss places flowers around her body as an act of defiance toward the Capitol. The remaining tributes are alerted to a rule change allowing tributes from the same district to win as a team. Katniss finds a seriously wounded Peeta, and, rather than compete alone and be unencumbered by him, she risks her life and nurses him back to health. Haymitch advises her to feign feelings for Peeta in order to gain wealthy sponsors who can provide crucial supplies to the "star-crossed lovers" during the Games. As she allows herself to get close to Peeta, she develops real feelings for him.

When all of the other tributes are dead, the rule change is abruptly revoked. With neither willing to kill the other, Katniss comes up with a solution: a double suicide by eating poisonous berries. This forces the authorities to concede that they have both won the Games, just in time to save their lives. During and after the Games, Katniss’s genuine feelings for Peeta grow, and she struggles to reconcile them with the fact that their relationship developed under duress.

Haymitch warns her that the danger is far from over. The authorities are furious at being made fools, and the only way to try to allay their anger is to continue to pretend that her actions were because of her love for Peeta and nothing else. On the journey home, Peeta is dismayed to learn of the deception.

Catching Fire

Catching Fire is the second installment in the series, released on September 1, 2009.

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 Katniss's family and friends if she does not help to defuse the unrest and marry Peeta. Meanwhile, Peeta has become aware of Katniss's disingenuous love for him, but while he feels sad, he does not pressure her in any way. He has also been informed of Snow's threats, so he promises to help keep up the act to spare the citizens of District 12. Katniss’s best friend, Gale Hawthorne, confesses his love for Katniss, which shocks and confuses her.

Katniss and Peeta tour the districts as victors and plan a public wedding. While they follow Snow's orders and keep up the ruse, Katniss and Peeta inadvertently fuel 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.

Katniss believes that Peeta should survive these Games instead of her, and dedicates her life to saving him. Peeta, in turn, dedicates his life to saving her, and they both acknowledge the other’s opposite intentions. At Haymitch's urging, the pair teams up with several other tributes and manages to destroy the arena and escape the Games. Katniss is rescued by rebel forces from District 13, and learns that the Capitol has captured both 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. At the knowledge that Peeta has been captured and will now be tortured and killed, Katniss is furious and loses the will to live.

Gale informs her that the Capitol has destroyed District 12 in retaliation. After some hesitation, Katniss joins the rebels.

Mockingjay

Mockingjay, the third and final book in The Hunger Games series, was released on August 24, 2010.

Most of the districts have rebelled against the Capitol, led by District 13 and its President Alma Coin. The Capitol lied about the district being destroyed in the Dark Days. After a standoff with the Capitol, the District 13 residents took to living underground and rebuilding their strength. The District 12 survivors find shelter with them. Katniss also learns that Peeta is alive and is being tortured and forced to speak on national television discouraging the rebellion. She agrees to become the "Mockingjay", the symbol of the rebellion. In return, she demands immunity for Peeta, Johanna Mason, Annie Cresta, and Enobaria, fellow Games victors captured by the Capitol. Katniss also demands the privilege of killing President Snow herself.

When Katniss realizes that the Capitol will keep torturing Peeta as long as she fuels the rebellion, she has a panic attack and loses the ability to function as the Mockingjay. A rescue mission is mounted that succeeds in rescuing Peeta, Johanna and Annie. However, Peeta has been brainwashed to kill Katniss, and he tries to choke her to death upon their reunion. He undergoes experimental treatment to try to cure him. Katniss does not have hope for his recovery, and decides to give her all to the rebellion and die in the process.

Throughout the novel, Katniss sees how ruthless Gale is. He does not seem to value human life as much as she does. He feels no sympathy for the enemies to the rebellion, and he feels fine with torture and murder, even of innocent civilians, to advance the rebellion. She struggles to reconcile this with the fact that she still cares for Gale. Amid her crushing loneliness and her PTSD, she kisses Gale, but he says that the kiss is not real as it is like “kissing someone who’s drunk.”

After she recovers from Peeta’s attack, Katniss and a team known as the "Star Squad", composed of Gale, Peeta, Finnick, a camera crew, and various other soldiers, are assigned to film propaganda in relatively quiet combat zones. Katniss, however, decides to go to the Capitol to kill Snow, pretending Coin gave her that mission. Peeta still struggles with his brainwashing, but he is in recovery and is still in love with Katniss. Most of the squad are killed along the way, including recently married Finnick. As Katniss approaches Snow's mansion, she sees a group of Capitol children surrounding it as human shields. Suddenly a hovercraft drops silver parachutes on the children, who reach for them, hoping they bear food. Some of the parachutes explode, creating carnage. The advancing rebels send in medics, including Primrose Everdeen. Then the rest of the parachutes explode, killing Primrose just as she sees her sister.

Later, Katniss, also injured, awakens from a coma to learn that the rebels have won, and Snow is awaiting execution at her hands. When she meets Snow by chance, he claims that it was Coin who secretly ordered the bombings in order to strip away the support of his remaining followers. This bomb also matches the description of the one Gale was helping to devise, and she breaks off her friendship with Gale. Coin then asks the surviving victors to vote on a final Hunger Games, involving the children of high-ranking Capitol officials (including Snow's granddaughter). In order to gain Coin’s trust, Katniss and Haymitch cast the deciding votes in favor of the scheme. However, at what is supposed to be Snow's execution, Katniss instead kills Coin with her bow. Snow laughs, then dies. Katniss attempts to commit suicide, but Peeta stops her and she is instead arrested.

Katniss is tried, but the jury believes she was mentally unfit, and she is sent home to District 12. Both Katniss's mother and Gale take jobs in other districts. Peeta regains his sanity. Katniss settles down with him, and the two “grow back together.” After many years, she finally agrees to have children. They have a girl and then a boy, who grow up in a world without the Hunger Games. To cope with her lingering PTSD, Katniss often spends time recounting every kind deed she has ever witnessed anyone do.

Prequel

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Set 64 years before The Hunger Games events, it tells the story of the 'Dark Days' which led to the failed rebellion in Panem. It follows Coriolanus Snow when he was 18 years old. Collins stated that the book would also explore the 10 years after the end of the war where the people of Panem try to get back on their feet and figure out how to go on within their new reality.

The book was released on May 19, 2020.[14][15]


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