America has fallen. In its place is Pandem 12 districts kept socially, culturally and economically separate by a very controlling government. Once there were 13 districts but one was destroyed as an example, a warning to the others. Each year the Capitol demands a tribute from each district in the form of a reality show survival game involving one teen girl and one teen boy from each districts. The 24 tributes are put in an arena where they must fight until only one survives. The arena is huge filled with whatever those in charge choose, trees, fields, desert etc.
the entire game is broadcast live to all the districts - for them to watch kids killing kids, a blood bath. If things move too slowly then the arena can be manipulated. Fires can rage, droughts can occur, nights can become freezing and the days scorching, wild animal attacks can suddenly occur and so on. Bets can be placed on the players and small gifts can be sent them to help them survive if how they act pleases those watching. No one wants to care about anyone as they may eventually have to try to kill each other. Still alliances are made - and broken. And so it is that the audience is caught up in an apparent romance between the two tributes from District 12. Katniss, already a hunter and survivor is well equipped to win except for the careers. these are huge well trained individuals raised for a chance at the games who volunteer for their districts. Peeta, the bakers son has long had a crush on Katniss. We don't know how much of their romance is for the crowd and how much is real. Usually careers win. But Katniss and Peeta have a chance especially when the rules are changed. To win is to be wealthy forever and to mentor future tributes from your home districts. When the capitol announces that the rules have changed yet again and the final survivors Katniss and Peeta must fight til only one remains, when the two defy the government, we don't know how much danger they are in - they don't know how the government will get even for this affront. But both do understand that it will try. As the two arrive back home and join their waiting families and friends we still don't know it Katniss's love of Peeta was real or just a survival tactic and if she loves her long time hunting partner more or just what comes next for the two temporary heroes. I think there is a sequel coming. I hope so. As hard as it was to get into this book with this horrible government and the killing of kids its a riveting novel, I couldn't set it down. Think The Giver for older teens. Or, maybe kids who liked Patterson's Maximum ride series would go for this. Definitely recommended. JDW 11/20