In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place.
What I thought: I only picked up this book because I have heard tons and tons of good things about it, which generally makes me run in the other direction. (I'm strange I know but I didn't read any Harry Potter until book 7 came out because I resist things that seem to be over done fads). Anyways, I was immediately hooked on this book. I love dystopia books and I also love that the main character was a strong female (strong protagonists are often in short supply). Katniss is the provider of her family and strong mentally and physically. It wasn't hard to root for Katniss from the beginning.
I will say however, that parts of this book seemed too easy. Katniss avoids having to make any really difficult decisions during the Hunger Games (I won't be more specific so as not to spoil) but it took away from some of the moral dilemmas and ethical considerations that Katniss had to face which would have added depth to the book. I was looking forward to seeing her wrestling with those decisions based on her strong moral character. (Although perhaps that's due to the book being geared towards Young Adults who knows).
Another aspect of this book that I really loved was the social commentary. Throughout the book we slowly get a glimpse into the future world of North America, the country's history and how it is set up and run. Each district is divided by strict social classes and stratification and in many ways some of the portrayals of the various districts mirror some of our current systemic oppression based on class, race, education etc. The systemic oppression then limits and prevents the ease of upward mobility and access to better opportunities in our own country and in the country created by Collins.
Overall, it was a fascinating book that I read in a few hours. I immediately wanted to run out and by book #2 Catching Fire (but thus far I've resisted considering the number of books in my TBR pile). If you haven't already ready find this book and read it. It's amazing and you won't be able to put it down.