The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, the first book in the trilogy, begins on reaping day.

Book cover

That morning, Katniss Everdeen sneaks into the woods to hunt. She and her friend, Gale, come here often to hunt for food. This is strictly forbidden, but they have no choice. It's either take the risk or they and their families will starve.  

Katniss has been taking care of her mother and sister since their father was killed in a mine explosion. She was eleven then. Prim was seven.

Now Katniss is sixteen, and Prim is twelve. She's now old enough to be included in the reaping. But she  is as safe as any of them can be. Her name has been entered only once in the drawing. The odds are in her favor.

Not so for Katniss. Her name is in there twenty times, as she sometimes entered her name in exchange for food.

She knows Prim is worried about her, and Katniss is worried about herself.

They dress in their best and go to the square at one o'clock to join the others from District 12. This is mandatory. If someone doesn't show up they had better be on their deathbed.

The mayor begins as he does every year, with the telling of the story of Panem's history.

Panem was once North America. He tells of the disasters, including droughts, the storms, the fires. (Does any of this sound familiar?!) And then came the war. A fight for what was left of the land.

Panem was the result, with a Capitol and thirteen districts. An uprising against the Capitol, called the Dark Days, brought defeat to the twelve districts.  District 13 was destroyed.

When the drawing begins, Effie Trinket says, "Ladies first," and draws the name of the girl from District 12. Katniss desperately hopes it's not hers.

It's not. It's Prim's.

How could this possibly happen? One name out of thousands!

Katniss runs after her. She reaches her as she gets to the steps of the stage. She pushes Prim behind her, and volunteers herself as tribute

* * * 

The Hunger Games are punishment for the uprising. They were created to make sure the Dark Days are never repeated.

The names of one boy and one girl from each district are drawn to take part in the Games. Over several weeks, these kids fight to the death until only one is left alive.

This is all televised and everyone is required to watch. It's the Capitol's way of reminding the people how helpless they are.

The boy from District 12 is Peeta Mellark.

Katniss has never talked to him but remembers a time when he was kind to her. She and her family had no food and she was digging through the garbage behind the Mellark bakery.

Peeta had thrown loaves of bread to her that were too burned to sell. His mother had told him to feed them to the pigs.

When she went back into the house, Peeta tossed a couple of them toward Katniss.

She never forgot. Now, she is conflicted about how to feel toward him.

She may have to kill him. Or he may kill her. There can be only one winner.

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