I picked up the first Hunger Games book in 2010, so I'm sort of new. I had to find out why everyone I met had either read them or loved them. For a while I'd just simply pass them up in stores and think, "What's so amazing about a book with golden birds?" - then I searched "Hunger Games movie poster", because I thought since the books were apparently huge, there'd have to be movies, right?
One I found had a girl in the middle holding a torch. With a village-looking place in the background, along with a forest and a city. I honestly still had no clue about them. Here's what I assumed it was about: the mockingjay (at the time golden bird) was the symbol of an event called The Hunger Games - and the girl wore that bird pin in honor of her being put in the Games. I thought all these places in the background were different levels of the Games. Like - with the only one survives rule - people get brutally killed off either by each other or an unknown force on every level, when the level is completed you proceed. And that the girl wins and that's why she was in the middle of everything.
When I heard about the "girl on fire" thing, I thought she did something insane while in the Games with fire - like she was lit on fire. After a while, I read them and really liked them.(: Catching Fire is by far my favorite of them, Mockingjay being the least.