The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) *****
by Suzanne Collins
"May the odds be ever in your favor."
I know I'm late to the Hunger Games. It's shameful, really, a YA librarian not reading this book until now. But I did have a good reason. I hate, hate, dystopian novels. I have since I was forced to read 1984 and A Brave New World in high school. I prefer my books to be funny and light or action packed or...well, anything other than depressing. If there has to be death, I prefer it to happen to the really bad guys. And it can never be an animal - if the author kills the family dog or the faithful horse or some other four-legged or winged creature (I'm looking at you Rowling), I'm done. So a book where kids have to kill other kids to survive, I'm not interested.
That being said, I'm a teen librarian and it really is important that I read these things. So I did.
First of all, this is a really well written and thought-out book. The characters, even those you meet only briefly, are fully realized. There is a lot of build up to the main event, but it's important to the development of the plot and gives insight into the workings of Panem. And I'm betting (as I haven't read Catching Fire or Mocking Jay yet), that insight will be important in the next two installments.
Despite my feelings about the dystopian genre, this really was a good book. I can't fully give it five stars because it's not my cup of tea, not because of the quality of the book. Certain parts made me cry like a little girl, and I hate it when books do that - even though if a book can make you feel that strongly, it's a sign that the book is doing it's job, and doing it well. It's been 24 hours since I finished the book, and I still can't shake it. My brain won't turn off and I keep going over scenes in my head. More signs of a book doing it's job. I really need to find out what happens next in the series, but I don't think my brain, or my heart, can take it just yet.