Another book that has a great author note. This one is right at the beginning letting the reader know that she drew on her childhood love of mythology, in particular the story of how Athens was punished and had to send their children year after year to the labyrinth in Crete where they'd be eaten by the Minotaur. Combine that basic idea with reality tv ala survivor and you've got yourself a kick ass premise.
Every year a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 to 18 are drawn randomly to fight in the Hunger Games from each of the twelve districts. This is a televised event and unfortunately for those drawn to participate there can only be one winner. And the only way to win is to be the last person standing...as in the only person left alive. You might make alliances, you might try to avoid killing, but if you want to win you know that all twenty three other people will have to die.
This novel is set in a dystopian future earth. The author manages to pack in a lot of social commentary without it ever feeling heavy handed or didactic. There is a reason the games are called the Hunger Games, in fact more than one. This future that Suzanne Collins has created is bleak. At one point there was an uprising against the capital and it failed. The result was continual military presence, strict rules, and widespread poverty. The capital is very much interesting in squashing any sort of unrest or rebellion and so the districts are continually punished year after year by having to have their children join the draw. You can even have your name put in more than once if you'd like to earn more food for your family (reason #1), the more family members you keep alive the more entries you have. Entries that compound over time. This means that the poorer you are, the hungrier you are, and the more entries you're likely to have (reason #2). If you are so unlucky as to participate in the games you'll soon find that food is scarce and difficult to come by (reason #3). And finally, if you're lucky or unlucky enough, depending on how you look at it, to actually win the games you'll win your entire district more food alleviating everyone's hunger until the next year's games begin (reason #4). Of course you'll be a murderer and might not have all your faculties anymore...but what can you do?
This book starts with a bang and never lets up. You've got drama, action, violence, surprising kindnesses, betrayals, and more. It is the first book in what promises to be an awesomely awesome series.