Recently I finished up the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy: Catching Fire. I was completely enthralled by the first game, and had looked for the second one immediately upon completion; unfortunately, in my public library system, there are 15 copies, and there were 45 holds on those 15 books. I resolved to see if it was available at my school and, if not, to just wait to read it when it was less popular. Fortunately, I found a copy and blazed through the book.
Instead of another summary of a book (or two) that are better-re-capped online, I figured that I would just take this opportunity to say some good things about the book, since, sure, it's getting some press, but not as much as...other books.
Here's the thing about the Hunger Games: not only are these books drawing in tons of kids and getting them to read at a fantastic pace, but they're well-written! I know it's hard to believe that any young adult fiction could be, but that's only to you haters who have never read any. (Or who only read Twilight.) There are certainly predictable elements in all of the books. There are elements that are stereotypical. But these things, to me, are almost unavoidable. When you're writing a story that fits so neatly into the genre, there's nothing wrong with playing to form, as long as you've got that original concept, like Collins does. (No, it's not completely original, I know that. But it's got the good twist.)
Books like this are what we need more of: we need to encourage kids to read books where they see themselves, characters who are three-dimensional and aren't presented with the faux-choice of predetermined courses. We need to see family members they care about, in real and authentic ways, such as Katniss loving her mother and being willing to sacrifice so much for her, and yet, harboring this intense anger towards her for this behavior she exhibited after the father's death. The stereotypical snake-like nature of President Snow is one of the few truly over-the-top characterizations that I've resented.
If you haven't read the Hunger Games and its sequel, do so. They're kid's books, so to speak, so you'll zoom through them in less than no time. But they're filled with good characters, beyond-decent plot lines, and it'll give you some kind of picture on the good stuff available when a young'un tells you they're thinking about reading Twilight (or one of its sequels) for the umpteenth time.