Katniss is tough girl-she hunts to feed her mother and little sister, she trades goods in the markets, and has little fear for the harsh realities of survival. This makes her an attractive candidate for a very grisly reality-show: The Hunger Games, held annually at the capitol city once a year. Each of the thirteen colonies select one girl and one boy between the ages of 12-18 to fight to death on live TV. The winner becomes an instant celebrity (think American Idol), bringing wealth and vital necessities-like food-to their home village. But Katniss isn't the selected contender-her sweet, fragile, younger sister Prim, is chosen instead. Katniss sacrifices herself to take her sister's place and the games begin. This is an excellent novel-it maintains a believable balance of post-apocalyptic science fiction, with just a bit of fantasy. Katniss is a heroine worthy of our respect but a completely believable character, with very real human feelings and flaws. This book is also appealing to both male and female teen readers-while the main character is female, she's certainly not a girly-girl, and the action and suspense that happen in "the arena" keep even the most reluctant reader turning the pages.
Recommended by Rachel DeBusk