As much as I'd heard about this book, I really wasn't prepared to get sucked into quite so much. I read it in a day, which I would highly recommend. But if you don't have the time or inclination to do that, you will definitely have something to look forward to as you read some each day. This is a fantastic book. It had me captured within the first 20 pages - I was already telling my husband "You have got to read this book!"
The Hunger Games takes place in a future that has been ravaged by environmental and political storms, where the area that used to be known as North America is now known as Panem. Panem is divided up into twelve districts. These twelve districts are controlled by the Capital. They basically exist in order to provide food and other raw materials to satisfy the Capital's needs. District 12 is the poorest, the coal-mining district. Katniss is a sixteen-year-old resident of District 12, where she illegally hunts to provide food for her family, and she is allowed to because the powers that be in District 12 buy what she hunts as well. Katniss has been the "bread-winner" since her father died, taking care of her mother and 12-year-old sister, Prim.
So what are the Hunger Games? The Hunger Games are one of the ways that the Capital shows the Districts that it has complete power and control over them. Each year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are taken from each district. They are brought to an arena where they are forced to fight each other to the death. This is the best entertainment that the Capital can imagine, and the rest of the Districts are forced to watch as well. No one from District 12 has won in decades. Everyone prays that no one in their family will be have their name drawn. When Prim's name is drawn, Katniss knows that she must volunteer - she will not let her sister face that fate. And so the games begin.
I don't really want to say any more than that, although most people already know at least that much of the story. I'll just say that the games were a lot more like reality TV than I had expected, which raised the shock-value for me. Also, I loved the politics. Really good dystopian fiction always makes us question those things that our culture values. The Hunger Games does that for sure. Really I can't recommend this book enough. It is fantastic, and I can't wait to see where the next one (not out until September!) takes us.