by Suzanne Collins
Despite this book annoying the heck out of me - it still must receive 5 stars. Why you ask? Well, the book is amazing. (We'll get to that in a bit.) However, the end is a total cliff-hanger (seems that's been a common problem for me lately.) We are left with a few characters in mortal peril by the book's end. And that's just annoying, because I now have to wait another year to read the conclusion to this amazing story!
In The Hunger Games - the first book of the trilogy - Katniss Everdeen finds herself competing in the Capital's annual Hunger Games. Katniss lives in a country called Panem - which used to be the United States. After a destructive war the country was restructured int0 13 districts surrounding the controlling government stationed in The Capital. Years ago, district 13 revolted, but The Capital prevailed. District 13 is no more, and as punishment for the district's uprising, The Capital has set in place an annual games as a reminder that all are under The Capital's power. Each year, a set of teenagers (one boy and one girl) from each of the districts are selected, and sent to compete - to the death - in the Hunger Games. One will prevail and win fame and fortune. The rest will never come home.
Katniss's sister is chosen, but Katniss takes her place. The boy selected from her district is the baker's son - Peeta. The two form a tenuous friendship as they are prepped for the game despite fearing the other may simply be planning a way to kill the other. However, partially as a plot to survive the games and partially due to Peeta's true feelings, the two develop a romantic relationship. And, against all odds, survive the games together. Both refuse to kill the other, and when the gamemakers attempt to force their hand, they threaten to both kill themselves - thus leaving no winner. And so, for the first time ever there are two winners.
However, in Catching Fire, Katniss's troubles are not over. Her desperate act in the arena is viewed by the President as an act of defiance against the capital, and her life and the lives of all she holds dear are threatened by the powerful government. Katniss must try to quell the rebellion she has inadvertently started before it's too late. The question is, does she really want to stop the rebellion? And if she doesn't, where will she hide?
This book is so absorbing it is incredibly difficult to put it down. The characters are endearing. The government is frightening and believable. The descriptions of the outfits and accessories of those in the Capital are outrageous, but funny. And despite the terrible make-me-wait-forever ending, I just adore this series and will keep recommending it to anyone who will listen!