If you’re looking for excitement, adventure, and drama all in one series, the Hunger Games books are definitely for you. Here, you will take a trip to the dystopian world of the nation of Panem, where you need to fight to survive.
There are four books in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins: The original trilogy plus a prequel (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) published in 2020. To read the Hunger Games books, you can start with the trilogy followed by the prequel or vice versa.
If you have not read any of the Hunger Games books yet and are wondering if they’re for you, here is a sneak peek into each book in the series.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games series starts with its namesake book, The Hunger Games, published in 2008 and meant for young readers aged 13 to 18. In this book, we go to a place called Panem, a nation that comprises 13 districts and the Capitol. Panem stands amid what’s left of North America after a series of disasters have taken place.
In this dystopian future, the Capitol maintains control of the other districts through strict rule and the bloody Hunger Games, an annual event where every district has to send two fighters or “tributes”, a male and a female, to the Capitol to fight to the death. The brutal event was instituted as punishment when District 13 staged a rebellion against the Capitol.
In these games, every tribute has to choose between killing and getting killed, as only one can come out alive.
At the reaping ceremony of the 74th annual Hunger Games, Prim, Katniss Everdeen’s younger sister, is chosen as one of the tributes for District 12. Upon learning this, Katniss volunteered in place of her sister, knowing that Prim, who has no experience in fighting, stands no chance of surviving the games.
Thus starts the violent and suspenseful games where Katniss and her partner Peeta fight for a chance to survive. On the first day, already half of the tributes die, and the competition rises and rises, with each tribute becoming more desperate.
The odds are against them all, and they not only have to fight each other, but they also have to survive the many obstacles that the Capitol has placed in their path. Katniss believes at first that two tributes can win the game, but towards the end, she finds out that only one can come out alive.
If you want a non-stop suspense read, there will be almost no time to relax with this one.
The second book of the series was published in 2009 and opens with a victorious Katniss Everdeen hunting in the woods. She and Peeta have emerged as victors of the 74th Hunger Games, thanks to her and Peeta’s act of being madly in love with each other and threatening to commit suicide in order for both to be allowed to emerge from the games alive.
Unbeknownst to Katniss, however, her ploy was received by the people of Panem, already enraged and fed up with the abusive rule of the Capitol, as a symbol of rebellion. It incited outrage among the people who are now ready to overthrow their oppressors.
And to them, Katniss is a symbol of hope as well as a symbol of their collective defiance against the Capitol–the mockingjay. So as a revolution brews among the people, the Capitol does everything it can to rein the people in. They see that they need to use Katniss and force her to go through with the Victory Tour in all Panem’s districts.
During this tour, she and Peeta are to put on a show and pretend that they were secretly married and still very much in love. On the tour, however, Katniss witnesses the public’s outrage and realizes that the more they are seen, the more the people are incited to rebel.
Meanwhile, the Capitol announces the nation’s Third Quarter Quell, with the previous victors to be selected as tributes at the reaping ceremony. And since Katniss is the only female victor of District 12, she is chosen to fight again.
She and Peeta return to the games, while allies of the rebellion move forward with their plans of overthrowing the Capitol with the help of Katniss. Everything now hangs in the balance. The lives of Katniss’s family are at stake. The lives of the nation are at stake. The aim becomes more than survival.
This book is the final book in the trilogy, and it recounts the highly anticipated end to Katniss’s fight–this time not as a tribute in the Hunger Games but as both the symbol of the rebellion as well as its pawn. She has survived the Third Quarter Quell, but she is now only realizing that her escape from the games is part of a masterfully planned plot by the people.
Though she comes out with her life, she finds her home destroyed. It is now apparent that District 13 is once again leading the revolt, and Katniss must make a choice. If she wants the revolution to succeed, she must willingly participate in their plans and play her part as the Mockingjay.
If she comes out victorious, the nation wins. But if she fails, she stands to lose everything she loves. They have one chance to fight against the Capitol, and they need to make it count.
With the Mockingjay in the front lines, Panem takes up arms against the tyrant President Snow and the Capitol that has oppressed the nation for decades.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
This book is a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy and is told from the perspective of Corolianus Snow, who will later become the president of the Capitol. In this book, we go back to the 10th Hunger Games, where Snow is a mentor to the female tribute of District 12.
He is desperate to secure a victory to regain glory for the house of Snow. He knows that his tribute is doomed, but he will do all it takes to make sure she wins.
If you’re looking for excitement and suspense, the Hunger Games series will not disappoint. It has a thrilling, well-crafted plot and characters that are relatable and admirable. Don’t be surprised if you finish the whole series in no time–you’ll find it hard to stop reading!