I just finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I couldn't put it down all weekend. This young adult novel is action-packed, thought-provoking, and there's even some romance.
The post-apocalyptic country called Panem, formerly known as North America, is preparing for the Hunger Games. There are 12 districts in the country; number 13 was destroyed when they tried to rebel against the Capital. As a reminder of this, the Capital has a reaping where every district puts in the names of their children to be drawn to fight to the death until there is a winner. Twenty-four tributes are chosen - a boy and a girl from each district. The winner of the games will be be given a life of ease.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen has spent many years looking after her mother and sister, Prim, after the death of her father in a coal mining accident. Food in District 12 is scarce, but she's a skilled bow-and-arrow hunter, so she's managed to feed her family.
On the day of the reaping, Prim is chosen. Katniss immediately volunteers to go in her place. A strong boy, Peeta Mellark, a baker's son, was also chosen. The two tributes are whisked off to the futuristic Capital where they are primped and styled, so that they don't seem so barbaric coming from a poor district. They are interviewed and paraded in a pageant-like fashion to try to get sponsors. Peeta admits while being interviewed that he is in love with Katniss. This provides an interesting twist to the story.
The games, which take place in a large arena, are televised to the entire country like reality TV. Many of the tributes are killed in the beginning as they scramble to get weapons. Some of the bigger tributes form alliances. Katniss forms an alliance with a girl named Rue. Everyone is fighting to stay alive. The whole country is watching what happens with Peeta and Katniss since it can't end well, right?
This story is at times very disturbing, but I haven't read anything like it before. I can't wait to read the follow-up novel, Catching Fire.