Sometime in the future, there are 12 Districts. Each District is responsible for a certain industry, but is never permitted to flourish because of the tyranny of the Capitol. This means that every district is filled with people who are sick, starving, and always worried about basic needs. The Capitol controls boundaries, food, and medicine, and tightly so.
As part of the Capitol's efforts to remind the people in the districts exactly who is in charge, every year the Hunger Games takes place. Two tributes from each district are selected by lottery to take part in a fight to the death, as the world watches it live on TV. The winner of the games is awarded a lifetime supply of food and shelter, which in turn benefits their entire district.
Katniss Everdeen suddenly finds herself as one of this year's tributes for her district. Along with Peeta Melark (the other tribute from her district), Katniss enters the arena with a few dozen others who are eager to kill her as quickly as possible. The fights are gruesome, revealing the very worst of human nature, and leaving some definite surprises in the outcome of the most unique Hunger Games of all time.
Without question, this book was the single best work of fiction I consumed in 2010. I was intrigued because there had been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the novel, and rightly so. To me, The Hunger Games was sort of The Giver meets The Lottery with a slice of Survivor and The Hatchet on the side, but somehow that strange combination was brilliant. I borrowed this book from a young adult library in my school's feeder pattern, and was so thankful that I had a Kindle to immediately download and begin the second book in the series!
I barely even closed the cover of The Hunger Games before beginning the second book in the series. Next up, Catching Fire...