You know, it's funny. I'm both skeptical of popular media, and I also want to check it out to stay afresh of the times. It's an interesting battle.
I had little interest in "The Hunger Games" until a friend of mine declared they were the best books ever and I absolutely had to read them. I've learned to trust recommendations by my friends (mostly because I never stop searching for something new to read) so I immediately placed a hold for them at my library. Of course, I was #300 or something on the reserve list, so I ended up having to wait about three months for the books to come in!
Then, when I finally got them, I spent about three days warily looking at the covers and wondering whether I really wanted to read a story about a dystopian future where people apparently fought to the death for food.
I mean, really?
At last I had absolutely nothing left to read and I was going to end up with overdue fines... so I picked up the first book and started reading.
"The Hunger Games" (and its sequels, "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay") take place some centuries in the future. America as we know it has fallen, to be replaced by twelve districts. A thirteenth that was obliterated as a warning when it tried to lead a rebellion against the Capitol. As a final safeguard against future rebellion, the Capitol instituted Hunger Games to remind the populace of their absolute control over the districts.
Every year, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 is selected from each of the districts. They are then dropped into a huge arena and forced to battle each other to the death until only one remains.
The worst part? The entire thing is broadcasted on television and the people are forced to watch their children die.
Katniss Everdeen finds herself thrust into the midst of this horror when she steps up to take her sister's place, after the 12-year-old's name was drawn. Katniss is a resident of district twelve, the mining district, and has spent most of her life hunting in the forbidden woods to feed her family. This gives her a bit of an edge, but will it be enough? And what will happen to the other contestant chosen from their district, a boy whom Katniss owes a debt of gratitude to? Will she be forced to kill him? Or will she die first? Is there any way out? Will they be forced to submit to the Capitol forever?
This is not a book for everyone. It is at times hard to read, and can be dark and violent. However it is also a book of hope, of light, and of understanding the human condition and the power of love. It is one of the most brilliant young adult books I've ever read and I strongly recommend it to anyone who feels brave enough to try.
Word of warning. Do NOT begin book 1 without having the next two volumes close at hand. Both of the first two books have cliffhanger endings and you will go absolutely insane if you do not have the next one to start immediately.