The Hunt begins with us learning that Gene is one of the only humans still alive in the world. We are never taken into how the vampires came to be the majority, but are told that the remaining "hepers" (humans), live in a Dome that is dawn/dusk time controlled to protect them for study, although really it is that they are to be used as a type of vote-getting tool for the Ruler when his approval rating falls and he holds a Heper Hunt.
Gene's father was bitten 7 years ago and his mother and sibling were killed many years before that. His father trained him to be like the vampires to blend in: never smile or show emotion, never let them see you sweat, bathe frequently to keep the human stench off you, never show any twitches or yawn, always keep all body hair shaved, keep your "fangs" polished and looking new. He has succeeded so far, blending into high school and just trying to survive by keeping under the radar, although his very popular classmate Ashley June, has shown interest in him.
When the Ruler announces a Heper Hunt to take place by a lottery, Gene is announced as one of the winners along with Ashley June. They are taken to the Institute to be trained for the Hunt, where they meet The Director, Frilly Dress (the Director's backup, kind of reminds me of a chubby Effie Trinket), and the other hunters: Phys Ed and Abs (both students at another school), Gaunt Man, Beefy, and Crimson Lips. As you can tell we never learn their actual names, but this is what our protagonist calls them throughout the book.
Gene is made to stay out in the library since it is crowded in the main hall, although we later find out it is because this is all a publicity stunt and he is expected to be the winner since he is one of the only eloquent contestants who can talk to the press afterwards and help write a book about the hunt so he is kept seperate. He starts to get a human smell because there is no water around, but realizes he can bathe in the pond inside the Dome during daylight hours when no vampires will see him. He meets the other hepers during this time (although they start to attack him first, thinking he is a weird vamp who can come out in the day). Their leader is named Sissy, and there are several others including a little boy named Ben, and Sissy's backup, Epap. Gene chooses to make out like he is just a human who has learned to survive around the vamps and doesn't reveal any facts about the hunt. After spending the day with them he goes back to the library and discovers a beam of light leading to a book by "The Scientist". It has one blank page in the middle of the book.
The Director tells the hunters that the hepers are going to be given weapons to make the hunt more memorable including knives, daggers, and FLUN's (high powered flashlights that can burn the vamps). It is a consensus that this will not matter since the vamps are so much faster than humans. The vamps are also given a few different items to give them advantages over the other hunters, including FLUN guns, sun protective cloaks, and sunscreen. One of the vamps (Beefy) makes a break for the dome with his sunscreen to try to eat the hepers while the Dome is down, but he is melting and Gene grabs him before he can get to them and then he is just a pile of goop. Gene also saw Ashley come outside and run toward the Dome but when he finds her suncloak he sees that there is no goop and when he looks toward the library she is standing there exposed in sunlight and they realize they are both humans.
They become allies to try to figure out a way to get out of the hunt since they will be exposed as hepers (their lack of speed and distaste for human flesh will give them away). Their plan is to release the autolocks on the Institution where the paparazzi and media are staying so that when the hunt begins all hell will break loose with ALL vamps running after the hepers instead of just the hunters and they will be lost in the midst. This plan fails miserably when Gene returns to the library on the night before the hunt and realizes it is to begin from the library. All the hunters and the Director are inside the library, and when the beam of sunlight that leads to the book gets in Gene is exposed as a human. He manages to get away and runs to the Institute to find Ashley, who is in the process of shutting down the autolocks. Phys Ed puts on a suncloak and just makes it to the Institute before he becomes a gooey mess, but his screams awaken all the vamps in the building and they smell Gene's blood from a cut and come after him.
Ashley saves him by cutting her own arm and leading the vamps away so he has a chance to make a break for it, and she jumps into a type of manhole where they first saw a heper emerge when they came to the Institute during a type of desensitizing process where the hunters where tied to posts around an arena while the old male heper ran around the arena and gathered food that had been set out for him (he was killed when Gaunt Man used a hidden knife to saw through his straps and came after him).
Gene runs to the Dome and finds a note in the food tube from Ashley stating that he must find the other hepers (they have been led to believe the Dome has malfunctioned and they must move to another place that day, although all it's actually to keep them out of the dome before it rises so the hunt can begin) and bring them back as bait so he can come rescue her while the vamps are distracted, so he finds a horse and carriage that was left outside and takes off after them.
He finds them and starts to bring them back but the hunt has already started and they are forced to stand their ground and try to fight. The Director has come after them also since he is pissed that he was made out as a fool to believe that Gene was ever a vampire. They escape by the skin of their teeth using the FLUN guns and knives, but Ashley had already disengaged the autolocks on the Institute before the chaos started so now they have a whole herd of vamps after them.
They use the map in the scientists book(the blank page was a map revealed only in sunlight so vamps couldn't see it) to find the river a few hours away and make it to the boat on the map. They are safe in the boat since vamps can't swim and the book ends with Gene feeling heartbroken for leaving Ashley Jude in the manhole and not being able to go back for her. He also goes to get a sketchbook for one of the people in the group while they are cooking in the daytime and starts flipping through the pages. It is mostly portraits of all the group members of the hepers, but he stumbles across one labeled "The Scientist" (who the hepers loved dearly since he was human like them and had promised to one day get them out of the Dome). It turns out the rendering of the scientist is his father. END OF BOOK 1.