The Hunger Games #1
Wow! Let me say that again in case you missed it. Wow! This is a great book. If you haven't read it, do so NOW. I was absolutely blown away. I'm not usually a big fan of post apocalyptic fiction. It's just too depressing. (And as you probably know by now, I read to be entertained.) And young adult lit can often be a bit boring for this old lady. But this is a strong, fast-paced narrative with amazing characters. If I ever run into Katniss or Peeta or any number of other characters on the street, I'll recognize them immediately.
By now most everyone knows the story line. After a major war, the continental US is divided into a few very large districts. Katniss is from district 12, the coal mining area of the country. The Capital, somewhere out West keeps the other areas in line through draconian measures, and they display their power over the other districts by staging the Hunger Games. One teenaged girl and boy from each district is chosen by lottery every year. They are thrown into an immense arena and the twenty four children are forced to fight each other to the death. The last child standing wins. The populace is required to watch the event on television.
After I got past my initial disgust over the basic concept of the Games, I got caught up in the story of a smart, strong, creative and conscientious young woman who manages to survive a difficult childhood of loss and poverty. When her little sister is chosen in the lottery to compete in the Games, Katniss immediately comes forward demanding to take her place. Before leaving the District, Katniss makes every effort to ensure her mother and sister will be taken care of after her death.
Katniss does everything she can think of to avoid being killed in the Games, while also avoiding killing others. She also manages to do something no other player has ever done. She wins the Games, and keeps the second contestant from her district alive as well. Her brains and fearlessness are inspiring.
Read this book. It's amazing.