Holy cow...this is a great book! I knew going into it that it had gotten rave reviews, and that it was supposed to be a cliff-hanger and it didn't disappoint!
Divided into three books, the world as we know it is long gone and now the world of Panem exists, and it is a hard a cruel world. Panem is divided into districts, each specializing in its own distinct products and services. Katniss, the protaganist, is from District 12 which is known as one of the worst districts because its focus is coal mining. Katniss lives with her mother and sister Prim, and her father has died in the mines. She is the sole provider, hunting and gathering just to keep her family alive.
Each year the Capitol of Panem sponsors The Hunger Games, a real survival game where two tributes from each distict come and fight to be the sole survivor at the conclusion of the games. Prim, Katniss's sister is drawn in the lottery but Katniss volunteers to go in her place. Peeta, the baker's son is also drawn and although he and Katniss have some knowledge of one another, they are still pitted against each other which becomes a central storyline.
Katniss and Peeta go to the games, and it is their hard experiences back home in the district that serve them well in the arena. Without spoiling too much, Katniss learns more than just how to survive - and the conclusion segways right into book two which is life after the games. Can't wait to get reading!
The book does have some violent scenes, and the constant forcing of romance between Katniss and Peeta gets a little dry, but overall it is an edge-of-your-seat cliff-hanger, and the author does a great job of making you LOVE Katniss. This novel would be great for a character study, and while I would let my 6th graders read it, I wouldn't use it as required reading.