This synopsis will contain spoilers!
The country of Panem has replaced the United States after a period of famine and war. There are now 12 districts that support the Capitol. In order to control the districts, each year the Capitol takes a boy and a girl (12-18) from each district and they must fight to the death in the Hunger Games. The winner becomes extremely wealthy.
Katniss Everdeen is from district 12 (coal-mining; the poorest). She is 16 and illegally hunts with her best friend Gale in the surrounding woods to help her family have enough food to survive. In the reaping, her sister Prim is chosen to participate, but Katniss volunteers to spare her 12 year old sister. Peeta is chosen as the boy.
Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol where they participate in opening ceremonies (dressed in fire), training (where Katniss is scores the highest - an 11 out of 12 - due to her archery skills), and an interview (where Peeta confesses he has always loved Katniss). Since the Hunger Games are televised, these actions are all meant to attempt to gain Sponsors who can send the participants items to aid them during the games. Katniss and Peeta become very popular with the audience.
The games begin with all 24 participants surrounding the Cornucopia (mounds of essential supplies). In spite of a bow and arrow being present, Katniss just runs into the woods, grabbing a backpack on the way, in search of a water source. 11 tributes are killed in the bloodbath at the Cornucopia. That night Katniss is sleeping in a tree when a girl nearby lights a fire. The Careers (children from richer districts who are trained from birth to fight in the Games) find her and kill her. Peeta is surprisingly among them.
Katniss finds water the next day, but that night the Gamemakers set a fire to drive all the tributes together. She finds another pool of water where she rests to soothe her badly burned leg and hands. The Careers find her, though, and she is forced to climb a tree. That night she receives burn cream from her sponsors. She sees Rue, a young girl from district 11, in an opposite tree who points out a tracker jacket nest (deadly wasps). Katniss cuts the nest down and it falls on the Careers. She is stung twice, but two Careers are killed. One had the bow and arrow from the Cornucopia, and Katniss retrieves it, but not before Cato (a Career) returns to kill her. Peeta saves Katniss.
Now able to hunt, Katniss kills some game. Rue has followed her, and the two decide to team up. Katniss heals Rue's burns, gives her food, and Rue shares the edible berries and nuts as well as a remedy for the stings. They decide they have to destroy the supplies of the Career's if they stand a chance. Rue sets 3 fires to draw the Careers away, and Katniss goes to the food supplies. They have been rigged with land mines. Katniss shoots open a bag of apples, setting off the land mines, but leaving her temporarily deaf. She escapes to hiding before the Careers return. Cato kills a tribute from district 3 because his land mines destroyed all their food. The next day Katniss can hear only in the right ear. She goes back to her camp to find Rue, but she isn't there. She hears Rue call out, but it's too late. A Career has killed her with a spear, who Katniss then kills with an arrow. Katniss surrounds Rue's body with flowers to mourn her death. The people of District 11 send Katniss a loaf of bread in thanks (a very expensive and generous gesture).
An announcement is made that if both tributes from a district survive, they will both be declared winners. Katniss, knowing Peeta is alive but wounded, goes to seek him out. She finds him camouflaged in a stream bed, nearly dead. She feeds him, and tries to help, but his wound has blood poisoning. Another announcement is made that a pack will be dropped off at the Cornucopia that contains what each district needs most. Katniss drugs Peeta (with a gift from the sponsors) so she can go to fetch the pack.
At the Cornucopia, Foxface takes her pack and flees before anyone else is ready. Katniss gets her pack, but is attacked by a Career from District 1. When she is about to be killed Thresh, of 11, hears the girl from 1 speak about Rue's death. Thresh kills her, but spares Katniss because of what she did for Rue. Katniss flees, returns to Peeta, and gives him the antibiotic. She passes out from a knife wound to her head.
Peeta nurses Katniss back to health. She realizes that if they play up the love affair, the sponsors will be happy. She does so, and receives broth and later a full meal. That night they learn Cato has killed Thresh. Peeta scavenges some berries, thinking they are good to eat. Foxface steals and eats some, but they kill her. They are Nightlace berries, and Katniss keeps a handful just in case. Only the three of them remain.
They go to the Cornucopia to fight Cato, but each dead tribute has been turned into a mutated monster. All three seek refuge on the Cornucopia, and after a small skirmish, they throw Cato to the monsters. They brutalize but do not kill him. Katniss kills him with a mercy shot. Peeta has been badly wounded by a monster and is losing blood. An announcement is made that there can really only be one winner. Furious, Katniss and Peeta decide to each eat some Nightlace so no one wins. They are stopped before they can and both declared winners
Katniss and Peeta are healed up. She is warned that she must continue to say they are madly in love, because the Capitol is furious there are two winners. Peeta is truly in love with her, she learns. He is furious that she was pretending, though she is not even sure that she was.
Early on in The Hunger Games I was disappointed by how similar it was to Battle Royale, a Japanese novel where children are put on an island and forced …- Dec. 27, 2009
Suzanne Collins the Last Line of in The Hunger Games