If you haven’t read any of The Hunger Games books, you may think them too daunting, preventing you from picking up the first one. But did you know that an average reader can finish the whole series pretty quickly?
It takes an average of 6.25 hours to read each book in the Hunger Games series. There are four books in all: the original trilogy plus a prequel. So if you were to read all of the Hunger Games books, it would take you about 25 hours of total reading time in all.
Curious about Katniss Everdeen and the world of Panem? Here’s what the books are all about and why you should read them even if you have seen the movies.
The Hunger Games Trilogy
There are originally three The Hunger Games books, all centered around the story of the battered, poverty-stricken nation of Panem–a country that is practically surviving on ruins and completely at the mercy of the merciless Capitol.
The people, tired of the oppression that they have suffered for decades, revolt against the Capitol, led by District 13. But the people’s uprising fails, and the Capitol maintains its rule by reminding the people of their defeat by holding the annual Hunger Games–a macabre and bloody event where two representatives from every district fight to the death.
And it is all broadcast on live TV.
The Hunger Games
The first book in the trilogy is where we come to know Katniss Everdeen, a brave 16-year-old resident of the coal-mining District 12. Her district is the poorest in all Panem, and her family is always on the brink of starvation.
Despite their bleak situation, they and the rest of Panem have to put on their best clothes for the annual reaping, where one male and one female aged 12 to 18 from every district will be chosen as tribute to fight in the Hunger Games.
This year, Katniss’s younger sister, Prim, is chosen. And Katniss has no choice but to volunteer in her stead. She takes Prim’s place and goes to the Capitol–bracing to fight and determined to be the tribute who comes out alive.
Katniss survives the Hunger Games and is named the victor. But she not only manages to come out alive–she makes Peeta, the other tribute from District 12, come out as a victor as well. Her ingenious plan of pretending to be in love with Peeta and threatening to commit suicide forces Gamemaker Seneca Crane to accept two victors.
This act by Katniss, however, is not appreciated by President Snow. He recognizes the unrest among the people and knows that what Katniss did inspires hope among those who are gearing up for an uprising.
Katniss and Peeta are forced to go through with the victory tour, only to find an increasingly outraged public.
A revolution is well underway, and Katniss discovers that she has been part of it all along without her knowing. She also finds out that she has become the symbol of defiance against the Capitol. In order for the revolution to succeed, she has to agree to be the rebellion’s mockingjay.
Katniss is hesitant at first, but when she sees for herself what has become of her district and how the people are suffering because of their support for the rebellion, she decides that she is in. She becomes the face of the rebellion, with District 13 as the powerhouse behind it all.
Little did the Capitol and everyone in Panem know that District 13 was not annihilated after the first rebellion. They only went underground and prepared for another revolution. And now the time is ripe for a new uprising.
The Hunger Games Prequel
Once you read The Hunger Games trilogy, one of the biggest questions you will ask is how President Snow became the tyrant of Panem. Who was he? What led him to oppress his nation?
In this prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, we get to know young Corolianus Snow as a mentor to District 12’s tribute to the 10th Hunger Games. He is desperate to bring honor to the house Snow after its demise and fall from glory.
In the pursuit of making his family name great again, will he in turn become the enemy of the nation?
Why You Should Read The Hunger Games Series
If you are a young adult aged 13 to 18, The Hunger Games series is a must-read. But if you’re not sure whether it’s worth the time and energy, here are some reasons you should not pass this series up.
The Plot Is Full of Suspense
If you like action, suspense, and excitement, you will get all of that and more in all four books in The Hunger Games series. You will be immersed in a bleak future where one young woman stands up against an invincible enemy.
And because the plot is so well-crafted, the narrative will capture your imagination and even emotions completely, you’ll find yourself rooting for Katniss, but not just her. You’ll find yourself rooting for the other tributes, the ordinary citizens of Panem, and the rebels of District 13.
It Has a Meaningful Story
The Hunger Games books may be for young adults, but even adults can enjoy it and even learn a lesson or two about how society works, how power makes and breaks a ruler (and its people) when abused, and how even the most invincible, most intimidating evils can be defeated if we fight them together.
But aside from that, these books will teach you not to be blind to the sufferings of others and how one seemingly small, ordinary person can make a huge difference.
The Characters Are Admirable yet Relatable
For a future that is painted to be so different from the world that we live in today, the characters in the books – both good and bad – are incredibly relatable, and their sufferings feel like our very own. And this is part of the reason why it’s so easy to immerse ourselves in their stories.
If you’re looking for an exciting, pin-you-to-your-seat kind of read that you can also finish in no time, The Hunger Games series is a good option. A word of caution, though, by the time you close the last book in the series, you may be left feeling like you left part of yourself in Panem.