If you are not familiar with the series, The Hunger Games series of novels has been incredibly popular for years since the first book was released by Suzanne Collins back in 2009.
Since then the original trilogy was adapted into a very popular series of movies throughout the early to mid-2010s.
However, the series has since changed with the release of the prequel story; A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
With the release of this story, fans of the series are more tempted than ever to re-read the series, and newcomers have a better excuse to start it.
However, since there is a new story to add to the original trilogy, a lot of people are wondering what the best way to read these stories is.
Because of this, we have constructed this reading guide to give you the best order we think there is to read the series.
It is also worth noting that there are actually 2 different ways to read The Hunger Games series, because of this, we will go into detail on the difference between the 2 different versions so you can understand what splits them apart, and which one will be better for you!
About The Hunger Games
If you have never heard of the amazing Hunger Games series then you are in for a treat. This is a dystopian series of novels that brings to life the nation of Panem in all of its corrupt glory.
The nation is split into 12 main districts (at least that is what Collins wants you to think) which all have different roles and a varying class system.
Every year there is a competition that is held and televised by the Capitol of Panem which is their way of displaying their control over the 12 districts.
This is the Hunger Games, where each district randomly selects two tributes, one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18.
These 24 tributes will compete with each other in a game of survival where they will need to kill each other with only 1 surviving afterward.
The first story in The Hunger Games series follows Katniss Everdeen who is a 16-year-old who has lived in District 12 her entire life.
She needs to compete in the 74th Hunger Games because her sister who is only 12 years old, was selected to compete in the games, so she volunteered to take her place.
She has to compete with Peeta, a friend from her childhood, alongside the 22 other tributes from stronger districts with better training.
In this guide, we will go over the 2 different ways you can approach reading this tense trilogy, the publication order, or in chronological order of events.
How To Read The Hunger Games (Publication Order)
The first way to read this trilogy is in the order they originally released.
This is the order which the fans who were reading the books when they were coming out followed, and before 2020, it was the only way to read the books.
While there is now a different order to read the books in, this remains a viable way to approach the series and the trilogy can still be read and stand alone as a satisfying experience!
This is the first story that captured the attention of so many different people and made this series so popular.
The impact of the first story in The Hunger Games series can not be understated and it arguably popularized the genre of YA dystopian fiction.
As mentioned in the introduction, this first story follows Katniss Everdeen competing in the 74th annual Hunger Games.
She volunteered to compete which is a rare thing to do in her district since people from her region very rarely win since they are competing against tributes who are much better trained, but she knew her sister would die if she did not.
This is the story that brings the world of Panem to life, and while we mainly focus on District 12, and the Capitol, the detail which Collins goes into makes this setting so believable.
Following Katniss is tense and makes this a story that is almost impossible to put down until you finish it.
While this story is no longer the earliest book in the chronology, it is still seen by many fans of The Hunger Games as the best place to start.
- This is still the original book in the series, and does a great job of getting you engaged in the world of Panem and the disturbing ritual that is The Hunger Games.
- While this is still a great starting point, if you want more context for the setting, and to have some attachment to characters in the story, you can easily start with the prequel instead.
While The Hunger Games is the most widely popular and well-known story in The Hunger Games series, it is argued by many fans that Catching Fire actually surpasses it in quality and we can see why.
After (spoiler for book 1) Katniss and Peeta both manage to survive the first Hunger Games they compete in, you would think that it would be convoluted to find a way for them to compete again, but Collins manages to construct the perfect explanation.
The way both Katniss and Peeta managed to cheat the system and both win the 74th Hunger Games angered those at the Capitol and was seen as an act of rebellion, and the villainous President Snow wants to put them in their place.
Every 25 years the rules for the Hunger Games are changed to special rules, and for the 75th Hunger Games the rules that were apparently ‘randomly chosen’ make it so the tributes competing are instead chosen from a pool of past winners instead of teenagers.
These are now mostly adults competing and with Katniss being the only female winner from her District, she is guaranteed to be competing again.
In Catching Fire, we do not just get to see more of Panem and Collins’ but we get to see a more mature Katniss that has grown from the events of the first story and it is a joy to read.
- Arguably the best book in the original trilogy and seen by fans as a highlight of the genre.
- Certainly not the best place to start the series.
We do not want to describe too much about the finale for the final book in the original finale of The Hunger Games series, but while some see it as perhaps the least good of the trilogy, it is still a fun read.
We recommend going into the finale as blind as possible and ready to appreciate the dramatic finale that split over 2 movies when adapted.
- A tense finale to the original trilogy.
- Seen as the lowest quality from the original trilogy.
The newest publication in The Hunger Games series is a prequel that follows President Snow back when he was only 18 and gives some amazing context to his character.
- If you want to know more about Snow before going into The Hunger Games, then this is a great place to start!
- Can actually be more interesting to go back and read after the original trilogy.
How To Read The Hunger Games (Chronological Order)
We recommend doing the chronological reading order when returning to The Hunger Games series instead of a first read-through.
The order for this series is then; The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes (2020) followed by the original series being, The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009), and then Mockingjay (2010).
Hopefully, this guide has given you the context needed when returning to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series, or reading it for the first time!
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Watch The Hunger Games Movies?
Since there is currently no movie adaption of The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes, the only order recommended for watching The Hunger Games movies is in order of release!
- 20 Must-Read Genre-Blending Literary Fiction Books - May 26, 2023
- 32 Gripping Epic Fantasy Books To Transport You To Another World - May 26, 2023
- 12 Books Like Red, White, And Royal Blue You Will Love - May 17, 2023