The first book of the trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Compared to a Heinlein this book was written for middle school kids...and maybe it was written simply to appeal to the greatest number of people. I was out of books and heading into a long and arduous night at work so I decided to give Collins a try.
When I first started reading the novel I was almost bored...the story seemed to start like many others but with a few differences to set Collins apart. The world as we know it has failed and out of the ashes rose a new empire with 13 smaller districts...our heroine, Katniss, was from district 12, one of the poorest districts. She spends her day breaking the law by foraging and hunting in the forest beyond the gate with her friend Gale. We get some background story on the girl, her family and the boy and his family....nothing interesting happens until the day of the 'reaping' ...which is like a lottery except the person chosen must compete to the death with the other districts in "The Hunger Games". The heroine does not get picked however her twelve year old sister does and Katniss cannot let this happen so she volunteered to take her sisters place.
The Hunger Games were started after a great civil war where the thirteen districts attacked the capitol...one district was annihilated leaving only twelve.
I did not get interested until the games actually begun...24 tributes are suppose to kill each other until only one is still standing. There are some ceremonies and training sessions before the games begin so the people can bet on the tributes...how long they will survive or when they will die...Each tribute gets a training score depending on their skill with weapons. Katniss makes a very daring move, she shoots an arrow through the apple in a pigs mouth on a table where the judges are sitting....that is the turning point for book one. Finally the little girl is pushing back against the capitol. She gets a score of eleven (the range is 1 to 12) which will in turn get her sponsors. If you have sponsors in the game they can send you gifts, but they are so unearthly expensive as the game progresses.
At the very start of the game half the tributes die trying to get some supplies or weapons in a cache called the "Cornucopia"...Katniss is smart enough to get into the forest and find a supply of water.
The rest of the novel is about her trying to survive on her instincts and nature skills...Some of the tributes train all their life for a chance to be the victor. These "career tributes" formed an alliance and compiled all the food in a pyramid. They are hunting for the girl who scored an eleven and one day she is hiding way up in a tree when they pass below, she yells at them and they try to get to her but can't make it up high enough. Another tribute, a little girl names Rue, is in the tree adjacent and motions to Katniss there is something menacing above her head. There is a nest of genetically engineered wasps...huge wasps with really mean venom, Katniss knocks the nest down to the ground so the wasps will attack the career tributes, but a few sting her and the venom makes her go a little crazy. Eventually Katniss realizes the ground is rigged with landmines and she blows the whole food cache to ashes...now the playing field is more equal.
That was enough to get me hooked and even though the writing style was simple I couldn't put it down until I figured out who would be the victor of the Hunger Games and why there were two more books...I am on my way to a book store now to get the second one.