hungergamesI’ve finally read it.

This book has been a huge phenomenon in the YA world since it’s release a year ago. I can’t actually emphasize this enough: it has been a HUGE PHENOMENON. The sequel just came out last month, and I knew of several people falling over themselves to get an ARC pre-release. Now I understand why.

This book is incredible. It took me a couple of tries to get into it, mainly because I started out listening to the audio book. It’s read by Catherine McCormack, who plays Dr. Olivet on Law & Order. As a die-hard fan of all 3 L&O shows, I couldn’t get past hearing her recognizable voice out of context. So then I picked up the actual print book, which is crazy for me. I was hooked after a few pages.

This is the story of a bleak post apocalyptic USA called Panem, one nation of 12 districts ruled by the Capitol. To remind district dwellers of their failed rebellion against the Capitol oh so many years ago, a boy and girl (aged 12-18) are chosen from each district each year to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. The last gladiator child standing wins fame and glory for life. It’s nationally televised and a twisted national extravaganza complete with parades and days off from school, perhaps like the Olympics back in the day. A giant arena is built with elaborate terrain and climate (depending on the theme that year). Food is scarce, and surprises are in store from the Gamemakers.

Our story follows Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old tough girl from District 12, the least favored and poorest of all districts. She is resourceful, unsentimental, and responsible for keeping her family fed by hunting illegally. When her 12-year-old sister, the person she loves most in the world, is called for the games, Katniss steps up and takes her place. And from there it is a whirlwind story of survival, brutality, and love. It is satirical and clever, taking our country’s fascination with violence and mayhem and turning it into the national sport. I don’t want to give too much away, even though the sequel still features Katniss as the narrator so you can probably guess the ending. But getting there is quite a ride.