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The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1)

The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins You don't need me to review this book since I am apparently the last person to read it. But just in case you're like me and are on the fence, I figured I better but my two cents in.

This. book. is. brilliant.

I'll take a little step back and say if you are looking for a grand romance to sweep you off your feet, then keep right on looking. BUT if you want a fast-paced, can't-put-it-down dystopian thriller, then this is the book for you.

If you already know what it's about and don't want my spiel on that, skip this part: What was once North America is divided up into twelve districts (there used to be 13), and each district has a male and female, ages 12-and-up, who is drawn to compete in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games take place every year, and it's a fight to the death. To win, you must be the last one standing, not only defeating the other districts' competitors (called Tributes), but the one from yours as well. Katniss and Peeta are from the poorest, least-respected district (District 12). When Katniss' little sister's name is drawn to represent her district, she volunteers to take her place. Although Peeta's financial situation is slightly better than Katniss', they both are in rough shape when they are taken to the Capitol to get ready for the Games. They are prepped and interviewed and trained before being set out in the arena to fight. It's beyond brutal, and it's all televised for the entire country to see.

Throughout the competition, alliances are formed and broken, lots of people die, Katniss grows closer to Peeta, and...I don't even know what else to say. This isn't for the faint of heart. What I do want to mention is how realistic this society seems to me.

One of the problems that I often find myself having with dystopian societies is that I don't find them to be realistic at all. I don't usually think that the citizens would go along with the crazy rules government has made for them. In Panem, it makes sense. This isn't a society that's blindly following their government--they're disillusioned, but thanks to swift action by officials and relentless propaganda, they feel there is no choice but to obey. Though I think the way this government operates is atrocious, I understand how it got to the point that it got to, and that makes a huge difference to me in dystopias.

I didn't find any of the characters without necessity. I liked Katniss, and even though she flip-flopped on her feelings about practically everyone, her thought process was relatable and realistic for someone in her predicament. I would have liked to have gotten more from Peeta, and in spite of the fact that he's no Four, I really did love him and felt that his feelings and motivations were authentic all the way through. There were other characters that I loved, including Cinna and Haymitch and Rue (sigh).

If you were putting this off before the movie, now's the time to grab it. It's a quick read with a lot of power, and I if you like this kind of book, you'll love it.