Katniss lives in what used to be the United States, but her world is very different from the one we inhabit. In this world, the continent is a country (or more of an empire, really) called Panem, split into 12 districts (once 13, but District 13 rebelled and was destroyed), with the first district being the capitol. Things seem to get progressively worse as the numbers of the districts increase. Katniss is from one of the far-out districts, where people starve to death.

One of the ways that the capitol reminds others of its dominance is the Hunger Games. These annual games can take place in any setting. They are televised throughout Panem, and everyone has to watch. It’s a fight to the death in some sort of wilderness setting, between two tributes (a teenage boy and a teenage girl) from each district, chosen by lottery. If any teenager in the poorer districts needs more food for herself or her family, she can get that–but she must pay with extra entries in the annual lottery.

Katniss has quite a few entries, and so is nervous. Her younger sister has only one. But it is Prim, her sweet, fragile sister, whose name is called, so Katniss finds herself volunteering, most likely giving up her life.

She’s got more going for her than she at first realizes, though. However, she’s up against Careers, tributes who have been training their entire lives for this. She’s up against the wilderness. She’s up against inhuman cruelty. Is it too much to survive? And on top of that, there’s the entire system that set this up. Will Katniss come out on top of the games? Will she outwit the others playing the game, or even its creators?

I’d heard a lot of buzz about Suzanne Collins’ latest book. I had heard that The Hunger Games was one of the best books of the year. And you know what? Sometimes that amount of buzz can mean a disappointing experience when actually reading the book. That’s not the case here, though.

I loved the characters. Katniss is a fantastic heroine, and the other characters were all quite interesting, too. I loved the romance. I loved the nonstop action. I loved Suzanne Collins’ picture of the future, with its eerie and frightening parallels to the present. I loved the suspense. I simply could not get enough of this book. And, luckily, it’s supposed to be the first in a trilogy! How much luckier could we get? I absolutely can’t wait to read the next two books. In six words: Adventure, romance, futuristic, suspense, pure awesomeness.