The very first footage of “The Hunger Games” is set to debut this Sunday (August 29) at the MTV Video Music Awards. If this dystopian story, in which Katniss Everdeen must fight for her life in the kill-or-be-killed tournament that gives the film its ominous name, is new to you, there’s still time to dive into the book on which it’s based — a best-selling page-turner by Suzanne Collins — and get up to speed before the big VMA reveal.
To help along the way, consider this MTV News’ own donation — a survival guide for the things Katniss must battle in the arena and the elements that aide in her quest to be crowned the victor of the 74th Hunger Games.
Hunger Games: Annual “Running Man”-esque tournament in which young Panem citizens collaborate and/or kill one another in the hope to a) not die and b) bring glory and much needed grub to their District.
Tribute: Name given to the contestants, two from each of the 12 Districts, picked every year to take part in the games. 74th games tributes include Katniss and Peeta from District 12, young Rue of District 11, and District 2 badass Cato.
Gamemakers: Unnamed puppet masters who set up the games and control all aspects of the arena, from weather to natural disasters to the introduction of nasty predators.
Cornucopia: Horn of plenty containing food, weapons and other essential goods available at the start of the games. Scene of much early carnage as tributes compete for resources.
Bow and Arrow: Katniss’ weapon of choice, available in the Cornucopia but only one of her possessions after she takes them, much later, by force.
Fireballs: Early on, the blazing attack gamemakers hurl at Katniss in an attempt to force her into action.
Hovercraft: High-tech vehicle that appears and whisks away a dead tribute.
Donations: Gifts, like medicine or food, purchased at great expense by citizen sponsors and dropped, via parachute, near the selected tribute.
High-Tech Meds: Burn cream, antibiotics and the like, created in the Capitol and delivered, via donations or the gamemakers, in key (and desperate) situations.
Low-Tech Meds: Homeopathic remedies, such as crushed leaves, used to treat injuries when high-tech meds are unavailable.
Snare: Traps set by Katniss to catch wild game and feed her empty belly.
Hunting and Gathering: Tributes’ primary manner to gain sustenance if and when Cornucopia food is unavailable. 74th games arena contains groosling, rabbit and other wild game, plus nuts, berries and edible plants (and even deadly fare like nightlock berries).
Land Mines: Bombs present at the beginning of the games to ensure tributes don’t get an early start. A savvy tribute could repurpose these weapons for nefarious purposes.
Night-Vision Glasses: Eyewear allowing tributes to see at night, a useful tool when darkness falls in the arena.
Muttations: Hybrid creatures created by the Capitol. Some, like singing birds called mockingjays, are harmless. Others, such as wasp-like tracker jackers, can be deadly.