With the upcoming release of the movie, I wanted to make sure I'd read the book before the film. And, while I haven't seen the film yet, I'm looking forward to it all the more now I've read the novel.
Set in the future, Katniss (our heroine) lives in District 12, one of the twelve districts that are subject to the Capitol, which runs the Hunger Games. Every year, each district is forced to randomly select two children from their district to compete in an ultimate reality show - a fight to the death. From twenty-four down to one, each contestant has to survive at the expense of the others. The Capitol runs the games, introducing challenges and changing the rules on a whim to improve ratings. Not only do Katniss and Peetr (the other selection from District 12) eventually need to kill the other to win, they also want their death to mean something. A small rebellion in a game that they know they can't change the outcome of.
Lots of the differences between Katniss/Peetr and the others are explained away. Apparently, District 12 is the only district that is so poor that it can't manage to train career entrants. So they are portrayed as more honest in their teaming together than any of the other teams that form. Other entrants are physically stronger than Katniss and Peetr, forcing them to rely more on their intelligence (although, if we're honest, they're relying mostly on luck and Suzanne Collins).
The fly in the ointment is the romantic storyline though. Peetr obviously has been in love with Katniss for years, that she hadn't noticed him before I can understand, but that she convinces herself that he's putting on an act to generate ratings (ratings mean they are more likely to get helpful items provided from outside) and starts to play along, completely missing that Peetr actually means what she's pretending - and that he believes she means it to. They're bound to be heading towards a spectacular relationship breakdown when that surfaces. Luckily again, that explosions doesn't interfere with their progress in the games...
Niggley romance clumsiness aside, I really enjoyed the book. Taking every opportunity to read more, including a few late nights, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Can't wait to read the sequels.