The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
I'm late to the party on this one. Hunger Games takes place in North America, in a strange dystopian world were The Capitol is in control and the people of the 12 districts live in constant fear of violance from their leaders. We are introduced to Katniss Everdeen on the morning of The Reaping, when the capitol holds a draft in each district for one girl and one boy to be enlisted to participate in The Hunger Games. The tributes, as they are called, are age 12 - 18, and are drawn at random. Slips of paper with the kids name on them are added for each birthday between 12 and 18, and then kids can "get" more slips dropped in the bucket for things like, oh food for their families.
Now the games themselves? Brutal. The winner is the last surviver. The remaining 23 tributes are either dead based on the horrific elements that the gamemakers subject them to, or at the hands of one of the other tributes.
And this is young adult fiction. I would not let anyone under the age of 16 read this book, and it's recommended for 7th graders. Not my 7th grader. Death is very real and the book is brutal and bloody and vicious. I don't know how the movie (which is coming out in 2012) is going to get a PG-13 rating with some of the subject matter.
That being said ... I loved this book. It's fascinating in it's brutality. Though one of the commentors on Amazon nailed it on the head ... this situation would not happen. As no parent would ever send their child to die so willingly, without a fight. I know I wouldn't. And our lead, Katniss, has a salient point in that she will not have children because she will not subject them to the games.
I am positive that other people would have the same thought, and thus the population would quickly dwindle.
But it's fiction, you suspend reality a bit. And it's YA fiction (sort of) and kids always think they know more than their parents, so it feeds into that.
Katniss is a great character. She's smart and caring but she's hardened by the life she's been forced to live and her callousness feels very real to me. I understand it. She does not give Peeta (the other lead, the male tribute from her district) enough credit for intelligence and that bugs me, and her treatment of him bothered me a lot. I could not understand why she wouldn't admit that she cared about him as a person, even if she didn't care about him romantically.
It felt immature to me (it's supposed to, I know) that she couldn't figure out how she felt about her hunting partner back home (Gale) and how that related to Peeta. To me they were two different people that held different roles in her life. But, we all know how all YA books have to have a love triangle.
Wait ... why is this again?
For once I would like to read just ONE YA book that didn't involve a girl lead who is blindly adored by two boys. Seriously. Please?
Also - for those of you that are wondering. I read so much YA because 1 - I like to know what the kids are reading and 2 - I live in an area that is very kid friendly, and as such our public library gets all the latest teen fiction, but not all the new adult fiction. Who knew. And most of what's available on the digital collection (my favorite thing ever) that is current, is young adult.