The Hunger Games Countdown: Plot Summary

Okay, I have to admit. I am a book-a-holic. I know it seems ridiculous, but I gulp down books as quickly as I can get my hands on them – for instance, last night I read an entire 600-page book last night…and 300 pages of the sequel…I have no life, I freely admit. Much of this I attribute to my parents placing me in Hooked-on-Phonics as a child, something I still punish them for to this day. So, that being said, it befuddles me when people pass over an amazingly good read, and then say, “I’ll just wait until the movie comes out.” Nevertheless, I shall try my hardest not to punish you lovely souls for not having yet read The Hunger Games, though I would strongly advise that you do so.

Thus, for everyone who has not read the book yet, but doesn’t want to risk spoiling the entire movie plot, I have come up with a reasonably short, but fairly detailed, spoiler-free plot synopsis. Mind you, this is from my having read the book, and it very well could be that there are pieces of this that will vary from the movie…

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in the Seam, a region of District 12 of the country Panem. Panem was built up from the remains of North America; from what fate befell it is unknown, however, the area surrounding Panem is completely submerged in water from the west. Panem was originally comprised of the “shining Capitol and ringed by thirteen districts.” During what are known as the Dark Days, an uprising against the Capitol occurred. Only the first twelve of the thirteen districts remained, with the Capitol as the victor. To assert their control over the people of Panem, the Treaty of Treason was written, forming the Hunger Games as a yearly reminder and punishment for the uprising of the districts.

District 12, which serves as Panem’s source for coal, is one of the poorer districts. often the youth in the district must sign up for tessarae (a meager year’s supply of grain and oil), which comes at the cost of adding their name additionally into the Hunger Games tribute pool. Although Katniss has signed up for multiple tessarae, it is still not enough to provide the necessities for herself, her mother, and her younger sister Prim. So, she and her best friend Gale Hawthorne set out every morning to hunt for food, both to eat and to sell at the Hob, the local black market. This is highly illegal, and punishable by death; however, the rules are loosely enforced in District 12, as they are located so far from the Capitol.

This Hunger Games is different for the Everdeens, as it is the first time that Prim has been of an eligible age to be entered. When the name of the first tribute is read, and Katniss hears “Primrose Everdeen” called as the girl tribute, her world stops cold. Immediately, she rushes to volunteer as tribute in place of her younger sister. Unaware of what she has done, Katniss sets out to defeat the odds and survive the horrific game before her.

From this point on, we as readers follow Katniss through the insanity leading up to the games. The Capitol promotes these games as entertainment, and everything, from the announcement of the tribute selection to the scores of the tribute’s physical tryouts are televised, including the game itself. In fact, most everything that leads up to the actual event is similar to a beauty pageant; the tributes are groomed to perfection, presented in spectacular outfits, and treated like royalty. All of this is obviously ridiculous, and certainly symbolizes the idea of fattening the pig for slaughter.

Several hiccups are thrown in Katniss’ plans to win the games. For instance, the boy tribute from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son. Katniss and Peeta have known each other since youth, however, they have yet to speak until they are both chosen as tribute for their district. Peeta presents a predicament for Katniss’ survival plan when he declares his love for her during his televised interview. From this point on, Katniss finds herself at war – not only with the other tributes, but with her own emotions, struggling to survive herself, but also aiming to help Peeta survive as well.

If I reveal anymore, I will have given away the best parts of the story, and that is why you are going to see the movie in the first place!

It will be interesting to see what is omitted from the movie for sake of time and dramatic development, but you can pretty much be assured that this basic plot outline will be followed fairly closely. I know that I am definitely excited for a few specific plot points to be included – something that I will discuss in tomorrow’s post!

As always, keep the discussion going below, or email me at with questions or suggestions for future posts!

8 days until The Hunger Games

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