The trilogy takes place in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, which occupies what used to be North America. Panem is ruled by the Capitol and is surrounded by 12 districts that provide for it. A thirteenth district had previously been destroyed in a rebellion against the Capitol. In the first novel, The Hunger Games, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister Prim‘s place in the 74th annual Hunger Games, a competition in which one boy and one girl from each district are chosen to fight each other to the death on live television, a punishment inflicted by the Capitol. The last tribute standing wins money and food. When told that both tributes from a district will be allowed to live if they are the last alive, Katniss and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark pretend to be in love to gain sympathy from the viewers but threaten suicide when they are the remaining two tributes and told only one is now allowed to live. This was seen as an act of rebellion against the Capitol. In Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta are forced to compete again in a special anniversary Hunger Games consisting of tributes who have won past Games. However, before it is over, a few tributes, including Katniss, are rescued by rebels who live in District 13, while Peeta is taken to the Capitol. Katniss’ friend Gale Hawthorne informs her that District 12 has been destroyed.
After her rescue by the rebels of District 13, Katniss is convinced to become “the Mockingjay”: a symbol of the rebellion against the ruling Capitol. As part of a deal, she demands that the leader of District 13, President Coin, grant immunity to all of the victors of the Hunger Games. She also demands the right to kill President Snow, the leader of the Capitol, herself. Finally, the leaders of Thirteen decide to go rescue Peeta, after realizing the guilt Katniss feels is impeding her role in becoming “the Mockingjay.” After the rescue it is discovered that Peeta has been brainwashed into believing Katniss is the enemy and tries to strangle her upon their reunion in District 13.
The rebels, including Katniss, take control of the districts and finally begin an assault on the Capitol itself. However, an assault on a “safe” Capitol neighborhood goes wrong, and Katniss and her team flee further into the Capitol with the intent of finding and killing President Snow. Many members of Katniss’ team are killed through intense urban warfare, including Finnick Odair. Eventually, Katniss finds herself pressing on alone towards Snow’s mansion, which has supposedly been opened to shelter Capitol children (but is actually intended to provide human shields for Snow). Afterwards, bombs placed in supply packages kill many of these children and a rebel medical team, including Katniss’ sister, Prim.
President Snow is tried and found guilty, but he tells Katniss that the final assault that killed Prim was ordered by President Coin, not the Capitol. Katniss realizes that if this is true, the bombing may have been the result of a plan originally developed by Gale, however, Gale denied his involvement. Katniss remembers a conversation with Snow, following the 74th Annual Hunger Games, in which they agreed not to lie to each other. When she is supposed to execute Snow, she realizes that he was telling the truth and kills Coin instead. A riot ensues and Snow is found dead, having possibly choked on his own blood (laughing) or been trampled in the crowd. Katniss then tries to commit suicide by swallowing the pill that was sewn onto her suit in case she was captured by the Capitol during one of her missions, but Peeta stops her. Katniss is acquitted due to her apparent insanity and returns to her home in District 12, along with others who are attempting to rebuild it. Peeta returns months after as well, having largely recovered from his brainwashing. Finally, Katniss surmises that falling in love with Peeta was inevitable, as he had always represented to her the promise of a better future, rather than the destruction she now associates with Gale. She says that she did not need Gale’s fire, as she already had it herself; she needed Peeta, who symbolized the hope she needed to survive. Together with Haymitch they create a book filled with the stories of the previous tributes and others who died in the war so that they will not be forgotten.
In the epilogue, Katniss speaks as an adult, more than fifteen years later. She and Peeta are married and have two children. The Hunger Games are over, but she dreads the day her children learn the details of their parents’ involvement in both the Games and the war. When she feels distressed, Katniss plays a comforting but repetitive “game,” reminding herself of every good thing that she has ever seen someone do. The series ends with Katniss’ reflection that “there are much worse games to play.