So, I totally read this book in about 28 hours. The Girl Who Played with Fire is certainly a tough contender in the Best Books I've Read This Year battle, but this one gives it a run for its money. I have to give a big, fat "thank you" to my sister-in-law for recommending this book, because there is literally no way I ever would have picked it up otherwise. It sounds more like something Derrick would read -- not really my style. But oh. It is magnificent.
What used to be North America is now known as Panem. It is divided into twelve districts and ruled by a harsh government known as the Capitol. To ensure the citizens in the districts are always aware that the Capitol controls them completely, there is a yearly contest known as The Hunger Games. In the Games, one boy and one girl (between the ages of 12 and 18) from each of the districts are taken to an arena in which they fight to the death. The last child remaining is the winner, and their district will be rewarded. The children participating in the games are expected to use whatever they can -- wit, charm, combat, hunting, deception, whatever -- to make it out alive. And everyone in the nation is watching the whole thing on television.
I can't explain how insanely awesome this book is. It's written for young adults, but make no mistake about the content -- it's deep and sophisticated and brilliant. It's so twisted that at times it reminded me of a scaled-down Palahniuk book, but the bizarre society aspect reminded me a little of The Giver by Lois Lowry (one of my all-time favorites). So... it's like The Giver meets meets The Most Dangerous Game (the short story by Richard Connell) meets the reality show Survivor. Except it's better than all of them.
The narrator, Katniss, is a tough 16-year-old from the poorest district (District 12) who finds herself fighting against 23 other teenagers in the Games. This character easily carries the plot of the book, and you're fighting right there with her the entire time. The sheer weight of the situation, the strange celebratory feel of such a horrible event, and some unlikely alliances make The Hunger Games the best book I've read in 2010. This is the first book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and I can't wait to get my hands on the second book. The third comes out in August, so start reading now.
Read from May 11, 2010 to May 12, 2010