Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

The long anticipated “The Hunger Games” movie, based on the best-selling book by Suzanne Collins, comes out on Friday, March 23. Fans are gearing up to see the book brought to life on the big screen and to see if the cinema does Katniss and her world justice. But what if you haven’t read the book? No fear, this list gives you what you need to know before you go.

The colonies
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

The people in this dystopian world live in a post-apocalyptic nation in North America. The nation is divided into 12 colonies. There was once a thirteenth colony, but it was destroyed during a rebellion.

The games
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

To remind the remaining 12 colonies that rebellion will not be tolerated, the government holds an annual event known as The Hunger Games. In these games a boy and a girl, ages 12-18, from each colony are chosen to fight to the death in a survival-themed competition. The last one standing is declared the winner and receives a lifetime of food and luxury. This is the 74th annual Hunger Games.

District 12
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

Katniss, the main character, lives in District 12, a mining district and also one of the poorest. Her father was killed in a mining accident when she was only 11 years old, and it fell to her to provide for her mother and sister by hunting in the woods (an illegal activity) and selling game and edible plants at the local market.

Tribute
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

A "Tribute" is a person chosen for The Hunger Games in an annual ceremony known as the Reaping. There is one boy Tribute and one girl Tribute from each district.

Capitol
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The "Capitol" is the term for the government and the name of the first district. The Capitol is an overbearing, corrupted, vain government.

Mockingjay
Lionsgate Publicity

A "mockingjay" is a bird that was genetically engineered by the Capitol during the days of rebellion. It is a combination of a jabberjay, a bird that can repeat whole conversations, and a mocking bird. The bird is also a symbol of District 12. Katniss wears a mockingjay pin during the games, given to her by a friend, as a good luck charm.

The girl on fire, Katniss
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

Katniss is the tough, no-nonsense, 16-year-old main character. She is a skilled hunter and archer. She volunteers to take her 12-year-old sister’s place in the Hunger Games after Prim’s name is picked at the Reaping.

The Boys, Gale and Peeta
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

"The Hunger Games" has a love triangle involving Katniss, her best friend and hunting partner, Gale (pictured) and Peeta, her fellow District 12 Tribute. Gale is from a poor family like Katniss, but Peeta, as the son of the baker, is well-off. Peeta once saved Katniss and her family’s life by sneaking some bread to her.

Other important characters
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

Haymitch (center) is a former winner of the Games from District 12 and therefore is automatically mentor to Katniss (right) and Peeta. His experience in the Games left him a rude, rough drunk. Effie (left) is the representative from the Capitol, responsible for the Tributes from District 12. Cinna is Katniss’ stylist for the Games, he creates her memorable costumes, but he also becomes a close, trusted friend.

A warning
Murray Close, Lionsgate Publicity

“The Hunger Games,” while profound and thought-provoking, is a violent story. Teenagers are given vicious weapons and forced to fight each other to the death. There are 20+ deaths in the movie, some a bit graphic. There are a few mild swear words, some kissing, and a few scenes where the character Haymitch is drunk. The show is rated PG-13.