The Hunger Games is a young-adult, dystopian novel written by Suzanne Collins. It was originally published on September 14, 2008. The book is the first in The Hunger Games trilogy, followed by Catching Fire, then Mockingjay. In the novel, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the ruthless Capitol randomly selects one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts, pitting them against each other in a game of survival where they are forced to kill each other until only one remains as the victor.
Katniss Everdeen — The story's main protagonist, a sarcastic, determined and strong-willed teenager. Katniss lives in the coal-mining District 12, one of the poorer districts, and lives in the part nicknamed the Seam. She often hunts outside of the District's walls in order to feed her family. Her father was a coal miner who died in a mine accident. When Katniss' sister Prim is reaped for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Her hunting and archery skills are key assets to her in the Hunger Games.
Peeta Mellark — The male tribute from District 12, Peeta is a baker's son. He has been in love with Katniss since they were five years old, and he once saved her from starving. Peeta is characterized by a likable personality, strategy, and selflessness.
Cinna — Katniss's stylist, who later becomes her close friend. Cinna is clever and supportive.
Portia — Peeta's stylist, works with Cinna.
Rue — The tribute from District 11. Small and bird-like, she is underestimated in the games, but her knowledge of trees and how to hide keeps her alive longer than expected. She warns Katniss about the tracker jacker beehive, mutations that were once set out by the Capitol to ease away the rebellion. Unfortunately, Rue was killed by Marvel (the boy tribute from District 1), who had thrown a spear into her stomach. Katniss sang Rue to sleep, then death, and after Rue closed her eyes and the cannon shot, Katniss gathered flowers and covered Rue with the beautiful wildflowers showing the Gamemakers that she was 'more than just a piece in the games'. She also sang a song that she had learned, for her father also used to sing before his death. Throughout the books, Katniss mentions Rue on numerous accounts. Katniss had a special connection to Rue because she reminded Katniss of her beloved sister Prim.
Cato — The brutal District 2 tribute. Described as a "ruthless killing machine", he is extremely strong and was the most likely choice of a winner. He, Katniss, and Peeta were the last three tributes to face the muttated dogs with the other tribute's eyes. Cato had been weakened by the muttated dogs. Katniss and Peeta hid on top of the Cornucopia for one last night in the arena waiting for the cannon signaling Cato's death, but it didn't come. At last, he emerged as a "raw hunk of meat". After hours of moaning and groaning, Katniss decided to end his misery by shooting an arrow into his skull.
Clove — The female tribute from District 2. She is very skilled in knife throwing, as she was the one who killed the male tribute from District 9. She was the fifth person from the last to die and went to the "feast" (where she was killed) having Cato guarding her. Killed by a large rock, thrown by Thresh, she seemed to have a connection to Cato due to the rule change. After admitting she had some involvement in the killing of Thresh's district partner Rue, he dented her skull with a rock "the size of a small loaf of bread". She dies in Cato's arms, as Katniss flees for her life.
Foxface — Known by no other name, this red-head from District 5 is wily and elusive. Though she doesn't have brute strength or knowledge of weapons, she can outsmart everyone in the arena. She was killed by accident by the poisonous berry, Nightlock, when stealing food from Peeta and Katniss. She placed fourth in the Games.
Thresh — The male tribute from District 11 keeps to himself. He disappeared during the first part of the game. This made him even more dangerous. He spared Katniss's life because she was friends with Rue. He was probably killed by Cato but this is unknown.
Glimmer — The female tribute from District 1, she was very beautiful. Described as very sexy, with long, blonde hair and emerald green eyes. She was killed by Katniss' tracker jacker attack.
Marvel — The male tribute from District One, he was strong and ruthless. He was the one who killed Rue, the District 11 tribute by throwing a spear through her stomach. Was killed by being stabbed in the neck by Katniss' arrow, her first kill.
Haymitch — Katniss and Peeta's mentor. Dangerous and cunning, Haymitch was mostly drunk, with a glass in one hand and knife in the other. He promised he would sober up long enough for Katniss and Peeta to play the games and help them. He sends Katniss gifts throughout the book to help her survive. He won during the second Quarter Quell where double the tributes were required.
Gale Hawthorne — The best friend of Katniss, she and Gale met when she was only twelve and he was fourteen after both of their fathers died in the same mining explosion. Gale hunts with Katniss in the forest, usually everyday but in Catching Fire, he only hunts with her on Sundays (before the 24 hour electric fence arrives). Gale called Katniss when they first met, "Catnip."
Primrose Everdeen — The younger sister of Katniss Everdeen. She owns a goat named Lady and a cat named Buttercup. Lady provides dairy for the Everdeen family. Very much unlike her older sibling, Prim has a heart full of compassion and an affinity for healing. Prim had been originally chosen as a tribute, until Katniss volunteered to take her place.
Flavius — A member of Katniss's prep team. He has orange corkscrews and wears purple lipstick.
Venia — A member of Katniss's prep team. Has turquoise hair and gold tattoos.
Octavia — A member of Katniss's prep team. Has pea green skin.
"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV."
"Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love."
Each year, for 74 years, the Hunger Games have taken place, forcing 24 children between the ages of 12-18 to kill each other as punishment for the rebellion. This year seems no different for Katniss Everdeen, until her younger sister, Prim, is called to participate. She takes her sister's place as Tribute to save her sister.
Katniss will do anything to survive, even if she may possibly have to go against her own moral standards. But when a fellow tribute reveals his affection for her and another begins to act like and remind her of her sister, it becomes harder and harder to figure out how to survive without killing those closest to her.