In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the edges of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before- and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Katniss Everdeen is a fighter and a caretaker. Evident from the very beginning in the way she risks her life daily to sneak out of her fenced & controlled district to hunt for meat to feed her mother and her sister, it comes as no surprise when she volunteers to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games- an annual fight to the death survival game which is used to show the people in outlying districts the power of the Capitol to control their lives.
So not my type of book at all, I had resisted reading it even after reading numerous reviews telling me it was one I shouldn't miss.
I finally put it on reserve at the library, picking it up with about a dozen others and promptly placing it at the bottom of the stack as one to be read if I got around to it, so sure I was not going to like it.
Being a YA book, I suggested my son should give it a try one day when he was looking for something to do. My fifteen-year-old son Zachary, is not an avid reader. It's very hard to find a book that interests him. Many books are started and put down a chapter later never to be picked back up again. But when he does find one he likes he absorbs it voraciously. I knew the next day when he was 3/4 of the way through this book I needed to rethink my reading pile and the placement of this book.
Zach begged me to read it right away so he could talk to me about it. Being the type of mom who can't say no to their children I picked it up the minute he put it down and read it just as quickly.
I loved the fact that even though it was set in the future (a definite turn off for me in book genres) it never felt futuristic. A little fantastical yes, but never overtly science fictiony.
Katniss' strength and will to survive so she could continue to help those she held dear were uplifting at an age when so many are so egocentric. The characters were likable (even some of the unlikeable ones like Haymitch) and believable.
I loved this book and couldn't wait to get my hands on the second one which my son was already halfway through with.