In an effort to read at least one fiction book/series each year, I happened to come across The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  In all honesty, the only reason why I ended up landing on this book was because Entertainment Weekly has done a fair amount of coverage on it due to the movie that is scheduled to be released early 2012.  As I read the articles about the book that this movie was based on, I became interested in reading the book itself, and so, here I am.

There were a couple of times when Katie made sure to tell me that this was a Young Adult Fiction.  I guess a part of me should be ashamed that I’m reading something that is geared towards middle school and high school students.  After all, I have a graduate degree, so I should be reading the classics, right?  You know, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamozov, or something else by Dostoyevsky… but I’m not.  Last year, I read the Splinter Cell books, and really enjoyed them.  They are not exactly going to go down in history as Pulitzer Prize winners.  However, I did read six fiction books, which is more than I have read in the last 10 years combined.

The Hunger Games is the first of a three-part series, and, yes, I will be reading the other two as well.  That probably gives you a glimpse of what I’m going to say about this book.

It was good.  Again, I’m not saying that it will go down in history or anything, but it was engaging and entertaining.  So much so, in fact, that I read it in about three days.  I actually spent one evening reading about half of the book.  So, easy to read – check.

The story itself is about an indeterminate time in the future when something has happened in modern-day America.  I can’t remember exactly what it was, but the end result is that there are thirteen Districts and the Capitol that comprise the main geographic areas of this nation.  District 13 was completely wiped away by the Capitol in an extreme measure to push down a rebellion that was taking place.

The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is the female tribute that is sent to the Capitol to represent District 12, one of the poorest Districts, in the annual Hunger Games.  In the Hunger Games, each of the 12 districts send a male and a female tribute to compete in an elimination tournament… literally.  The winner of the games is the one that is still alive after all the others have been killed – mostly by other tributes, but also by people directing things behind the scenes, or even the elements.  The Games are a way to remind the districts that they are completely dependent on the Capitol in order to survive.  They are also to remind the districts who is really in control.  The people in the Districts, for the most part, hate the games, but have no real choice in the matter.  The people in the Capitol seem to be blissfully unaware of what the games are really about.

Ultimately, The Hunger Games is a story about survival, about what it is like to live in an oppressive system from the point of view of the oppressed.  And, it’s a good story.  After reading the first chapter of the book, I was ready to see what was going to happen, and that’s a sign of a good read to me, even if it is a Young Adult book.  I’ve started reading the second one already, and I have a feeling that by the time you read this post, I’ll be working on the third one.

I will say that the only real flaw I could point to in this book is that it is written from Katniss’ point of view, which means, simply put, that you know she is going to win the games.  But there is a time or two when you have to wonder…

I would highly recommend the first book of the series if you are looking for a quick read that is full of action and unexpected twists.  Put it on your summer reading list.  It’s worth the time.