The amazon.com product description:
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a book that got a lot of press when it first came out. Even Time Magazine had an article about both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, the sequel At the time, I wasn't interested in reading it, but now the release of the third book, Mockingjay is getting closer, I thought I should give it a try.
I'm glad I did. The book almost defies words. It's dark, violent and nasty, but the characters are what really makes the story fly. Katniss' motivations make sense to me as a reader all the way through the story. But one of the things I really liked about the story was that it didn't have an overall message or moral like some of the other teen/kids books I've read lately.
The story just caught me up within the first pages. I started reading The Hunger Games while I was at work, and finished the book the same night. I just couldn't put the book down until it was done. It's not a long read, I'll admit, but everything the story really needed was there. I think it would have been nice to have some more background on what caused the world to become the one we see in the story, but that might have slowed the pace of the book down too much. Things are pretty clear as they are.
And it's not a world I'd want to live in! Rampant starvation, governmental controls, and then the Hunger Games themselves. It actually reminds me of the short story The Lottery that I had to read for English class years ago.
I'm now on to Catching Fire, and waiting for the third book.