I almost did not read this book because of the idea of people hunting people, let alone kids being forced to do this. So, I have to thank Krista for convincing me to read this book. If it was not for her I would not have picked this book up at all. Once I started reading this book I realized it is not as harsh as I had anticipated, which I am thankful for, and was not able to put it down. (I read this book of 374 pages in two and a half days, which is extremely fast for me.) Most of the book is not even set in the actual arena of the fighting. This book is more of the survival of Katniss and Peeta who are on the defensive and trying to stay alive. There is no cannibalism nor is it gory or brutal. I am very glad I did not pass this book up any longer.
I know there is a lot of talk of this book currently, which may be due to the second book recently being released. So with all this amazing praise I had to read it. Which was also a fear to me that with all the hype I would have higher expectations and the book would not measure up. Well, the book exceeded my expectations tremendously. Let me just say the praise is well deserved.
You meet Katniss here in the beginning right away. She sneaks past the fence around District 12 ment to "keep the animals of flesh eating out" and the citizens are not aloud to go outside the fence. Katniss has a spot she sneaks out and meets her friend Gale to hunt. See, they don't get caught or in trouble because the Peacekeepers of the city look the other way, as they like to eat meat too. Katniss has been trained at a young age by her father to hunt, and this is what Katniss has done to help keep her family alive after her father passes away in a mine accident years before.
Also, in the beginning you learn of the history of Panem, and how the Capitol has a gripping control over the 12 different Districts. As a lesson for trying to over throw the Capitol years past the Hunger Games came to exist. All the people are forced to have their children entered in the contest starting at age twelve through to eighteen, no matter stature or standing in the District. However, the poor children could very well have more entries than the richer. See, if the family is in need of food rations the child can enter an extra name in the drawing for this and you can do so for each person in your family. So with Katniss, she has a sister and a mother along with herself - this would be three more entries along with the one for this year. Oh yes, the entries are cumulative, so they carry over each year. That would get scary after a while.
On the day of the drawing all the people of the District are required to be there to witness this, and as a reminder. Katniss is shocked when her twelve year old sister who only has one entry gets picked as the girl to go to the games. What would you do for your sister? Would you sacrifice yourself to take her place? Well, that is just what Katniss does, volunteers to go in her spot.
I am surprised with the extent the Capitol goes to, to try and make this an exciting game to watch. The Capitol actually seem to enjoy this. The publicity the winners of the drawing get is unbelievable. There is lavish foods, complete make-overs, parades, and interviews. They are treated like royalty. People chant for these poor kids and bet on them. All this before they are sent to the arena to fight for their lives. The suspence is held through this section and there are peaks and valleys through here. My heart felt for Katniss and Peeta (the boy who won the drawing in District 12 with Katniss). Even the interview has a shocker to it. They need to win the love of the people in order to have sponsers to supply them "gifts" while they are in the arena when needed. The contenders all have to go through a training session for a few days then show their skills to the Gamemakers, which results in a scoring that could win them sponsers as well. All of these have their own peaks to them which keep you interested and driving forward in the book.
Then you get to the Arena where the game begins. Now, you are going to have to read the book to see what happens here. Just remember the people of the Capitol like a show and will do anything to get it... There are a few twists that get added along with new rules as they go.
By the end of this book I loved Peeta and Katniss. My heart burst, swelled, and broke with them through all their tribulations. Will they both live? Will one die? Will they both die? I am ready to dive into the next book Catching Fire. This book has told a story and set up for the next book at the same time, very well written in that respect. I also feel I understand the characters very well.
I have to say, for a Young Adult book I would suggest it to any and all adults to read.