"May the odds be ever in your favor"
My 11yr old finally wore me down, and I'm glad he did. I just finished reading The Hunger Games Trilogy(Suzanne Collins), and I think it might be tied with Percy Jackson and the Olympians as my favourite series discovered this year. Without getting into spoilers, the first book grabbed me right away. I loved the main character, Katniss, for her strengths and weaknesses. The fact that she does have significant weaknesses was what made her believable for me. The concept of the Hunger Games competition seemed quite dark and violent, but was presented in a tween/teen-friendly way -- it was easy to see how the detail and gore could have been ramped if written for the adult crowd, but I didn't feel like anything was lost by focusing more on the character than the events in which she was involved.
Have I mentioned how I love that the protagonist is a girl and my 11yr old boy *still* loved this series?
The second book in the series was just as strong. There was a lot of character development, introduction of some romance (but not so much to chase away boy readers!) -- I just couldn't put it down. In fact, coupled with a bit of insomnia, I was up until 4:30am reading the first two books.
I will admit that, while I enjoyed the third book, I didn't feel it was as strong as the first two. I think there was too much crammed into one book and a lot of potential plot development was lost. It would have been better if it had been fleshed out into two books. The last 70 pages or so, especially, whizzed by and lacked the detail and character exploration shown throughout the first two books -- this was particularly jarring when faced with the catastrophic loss of a few key characters. It was as though they were gone and forgotten in a paragraph.
Overall, I loved this series. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with kids in the 12yr - 16yr range. I'd peg the reading level at about Grade 8, and some of the themes are fairly mature. I read all three books over two evenings, so this series rates as "inhaled"!
The 11yr old is happy -- now that I've read the books, the two of us can start watching the moves.. ;)