After life as we know it is seemingly destroyed, a country called Panem establishes itself in the ruins of North America. When the districts of Panem rebel against the Capitol which leaves the 13th district obliterated, the Capitol establishes the Hunger Games as punishment, hoping to prevent such uprisings from happening again. The Hunger Games, a brutal battle to the death pairs twenty-four young boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18, called tributes, into a pre-designed outdoors arena which can be every bit as dangerous as the other tributes vying to be the sole winner.

The last remaining tributes to be reaped for the 74th annual Hunger Games come from District 12, where we are introduced to the story’s main protagonist Katniss Everdeen. A virtual orphan, it is Katniss who is the sole provider for her family after a tragic mine explosion claims the life of her father. When Katniss’ sister Prim is inexplicably reaped to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss jumps at the opportunity to volunteer in her place, saving her sister’s life while seemingly choosing to die in her place.

Much to the dismay of Katniss, the baker’s son Peeta Mellark is reaped for the Games as well, a boy who previously saved her life while simultaneously giving her the hope and will to keep going. It is the responsibility of Haymitch Abernathy, the resident drunk of district 12 who is mainly responsible for mentoring Katniss and Peeta before the games.

During the interview portion of the pre-Games routine, Peeta Mellark confesses to interviewer Caesar Flickerman that he has long been in love with Katniss, later revealing he had these feelings since a very young age. Not believing his words, Katniss is forced to act her part to gain audience and sponsor support as one half of the ‘Star-Crossed Lover’ ruse encouraged by their mentor, Haymitch. Exceptionally skilled with hunting and trapping, Katniss uses this as her main strategy within the Games when they finally begin.

After surviving the initial bloodbath at the Cornucopia, Katniss remains unseen for the first few days before a Gamemaker controlled fire traps her up a tree with the Career Pack, the remaining tributes from districts 1, 2 and 4 along with Peeta, camped out below her. With the help from the littlest tribute Rue, Katniss survives and escapes the situation and later forms an alliance with her. While destroying the Career Pack’s supplies, Rue is killed at the hands of another tribute, prompting Katniss to sing to her in her final moments of life before covering her body in flowers, a sign of respect rarely seen within the Hunger Games.

After it is announced that more than one tribute can be victorious if they hail from the same district, Katniss sets out to find Peeta who had been gravely wounded by the sword of another tribute. It is here she slowly nurses him back the best she can while playing up her end of the star-crossed lovers ruse earning her a sponsor gift that proves critical to Peeta’s survival. Finally feeling healthy enough, the two of them make their way back to the Cornucopia where the Games began hoping to find its conclusion.

After Katniss kills the last remaining tribute in an act of pity, she and Peeta seemingly expect to both be crowned winners as previously announced. When no announcement of their victory is made they realize that they have been tricked and that it was never the intention of the Capitol to allow them both to survive. Refusing to kill one another, Katniss comes up with a plan that would kill them both by swallowing deadly poisonous Nightlock berries, further shaming the Capitol. Before the plan could be executed, a frantic announcement is finally made declaring them both the first ever co-champions of the Hunger Games.

Despite finally being out of the Games, the danger doesn’t end for Katniss who has made a mockery out of the Capitol by preferring death over victory. Haymitch warns her that she has become a target by the Capitol and by President Snow and that she still needed to play up being in love with Peeta, despite not being so. Katniss reveals this information to Peeta who is devastated to hear that her actions of love were manufactured. With heavy hearts, Katniss and Peeta make their way back to district 12.