The Hunger Games
In the nation of Panem, established in the remains of North America after an unspecified apocalyptic event, the wealthy Capitol exploits the twelve surrounding districts for their natural resources and labour. As punishment for a past failed rebellion against the Capitol, which resulted in the obliteration of District 13, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of the 12 remaining districts are selected by an annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, a contest in which the "tributes" must fight to the death in an outdoor arena until only one remains.
The story is narrated by 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen from District 12, who volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in place of her 12-year-old sister, Primrose. The male tribute is Peeta Mellark, a former schoolmate of Katniss who once gave her bread from his family's bakery when her family was starving. In the days leading up to the Games in the Capitol, they are given advice by their drunken mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, the sole living District 12 victor of the Hunger Games; chaperone Effie Trinket; and various stylists to enhance their public perception to get potential sponsors, who will send potentially life-saving gifts during the Games. Katniss's stylist, Cinna, designed special costumes for Katniss and Peeta that set them apart from the tributes when introduced to the public. Due to Katniss’ dress, which had the theme of fire, she became known as the “Girl on Fire”. During their evaluation by the Gamemakers, Katniss unexpectedly gets the highest score among the others. Meanwhile, Rue, the petite 12-year-old girl tribute from District 11, follows Katniss and Peeta around during the training sessions. On the day before the games, in the televised interview with Caesar Flickerman, Peeta reveals his long-unrequited love for Katniss; she is initially shocked by this and believes this is a ploy to gain sponsors, but later accepts this as sincere. Haymitch then promotes their image as "star-crossed lovers".
The Games begin, and nearly half the tributes are killed in the bloodbath at the start, fighting over the weapons and supplies throughout the arena. Katniss disregards Haymitch's earlier advice to flee immediately and nearly dies, but uses her well-practiced hunting and survival skills to hide in the woods. After a few days, an artificial fire drives Katniss toward the others. She is spotted and treed by the "Career tributes“ mainly from Districts 1,2, and 4, and Peeta, who seems to have allied with them. Rue, hiding in a nearby tree, silently alerts Katniss to a “tracker jacker” nest, which she sends it plummeting down, releasing the flying insects who are genetically modified to track whoever disturbs their nest and have venom that targets the section of their victims’ minds that houses fear. Their venom kills one of the careers and drives the others away, but Katniss is stung and begins hallucinating. Peeta returns, but instead of killing her, tells her to run away. Katniss later forms an alliance with Rue, but Rue is fatally wounded by the male tribute from district 1 while Katniss destroys the careers' supplies. Katniss kills Rue's killer with an arrow, and accompanies Rue as she dies and spreads flowers over the body to show her defiance against the Capitol. In gratitude, Rue's district sends Katniss a loaf of bread.
A rule change is announced, allowing the tributes from the same district to win as a pair. Katniss finds and nurses a wounded Peeta (who later revealed that he formed an alliance with the careers to protect Katniss), acting the part of a girl in love to gain gifts. When the Gamemakers send a delivery of what each contestant needs most, Katniss risks her life to obtain medicine for Peeta. She is intercepted by a career tribute Clove, who gloats over Rue's death and tries to kill Katniss, but is killed by Thresh, the male District 11 tribute, who spares Katniss for Rue's sake. The medicine saves Peeta's life, and they both spend time hunting and collecting food.
Katniss and Peeta become the last two survivors, but the Gamemakers revoke the rule change to force one to kill the other for a dramatic finale. In defiance, Katniss prepares to consume the poisonous "nightlock" berries with Peeta. Realizing they intend to commit suicide so that there will not be a victor for the games, the Gamemakers declare Katniss and Peeta the victors. Although both of them receive a hero's welcome as a couple, Katniss is warned by Haymitch that the Capitol may take action against her for her defiance. Along the way back to District 12, Peeta is heartbroken to learn that Katniss' actions were part of a calculated ploy to gain sympathy. Katniss, however, is unsure of her own feelings and her future.