The Hunger Games  - Suzanne  Collins "They're already taking my future! They can't have the things that mattered to me in the past!"
Katniss Everdeen lives in a dystopic future where North America is now called Panem, the continent is divided into one Capitol, "ruling district", and twelve other subservient districts. Katniss and her family mostly ekes out a living in District 12, sometimes barely surviving. But when Katniss' beloved younger sister is called out for the Hunger Games, a yearly event where a boy and a girl from each district participate in a fight-to-the-death match, Katniss takes her sister's place. Will Katniss survive?

I Liked:
If I had to write the perfect book, it would probably contain these elements:
1. A strong-willed, independent girl
2. A journey or adventure or chase away from "bad guys"
3. A big "life or death" battle
4. A very laid-back romance with a realistic boy (Edward Cullen need not apply)
Well, whaddya know, this book exists and it's name is "The Hunger Games"!
Katniss Everdeen is definitely the "strong-willed, independent girl" I like to read about. She's smart, she's quick-thinking, she's resourceful, but she still has faults. Her communications skills are a bit lacking. She's brusque. She can't lie. She can't charm people. She doesn't have a D-cup with a Perfect Size 6.
Probably my favorite type of story is a journey or "chase" story. I love stories where a character has to run away from some bad guy, to survive by her wits and sheer dumb luck. What Katniss has to endure is precisely that: she must survive the Hunger Games, which means running away from the other 23 tributes that are trying to kill her, trying to hunt the tributes and kill them first, and to feed and provide water and protection for herself. Not to mention, the big "life or death" battle she must face and try to survive, which I won't detail any more for fear of divulging the hideous spoilers.
And then romance. Honestly, what girl doesn't want to see a little bit of romance in a book, particularly when it is well done and not the horrible Romantic Triangle or Romantic Stalker that seems so popular nowadays. For fear of giving away too much, I loved how we were never sure if Peeta really was in love with Katniss or if it was his big ploy to get sponsors. Plus, Peeta is definitely a charming romantic lead: if he is in love with Katniss, how sweet and romantic! How he looks out for her and puts her ahead of him! And yet, he doesn't exhibit crazy stalker behavior and can still argue and chide her like a real human being.
And while I didn't include this in my Top Factors for the Best Story ever, I do love stories that make a statement about today's culture. I couldn't help relating the Hunger Games to the billion of stupid reality TV shows on today. I also thought the way the districts were grouped were very similar to how distant our country has grown. And the vapid Capitol culture hardly felt like future dystopia to me at all...I swear to God, I see this sort of insipid behavior every day.

I Didn't Like:
I found very little to dislike about this book. In fact, about the only thing that bugged me was the concept of the Hunger Games itself. I found it a little difficult to believe that this event could possibly keep the twelve districts from revolting. Wouldn't it do the exact opposite, make the districts more likely to revolt?

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Did they swear? If there was, it was very mild and very sparse.
The clothes the tributes wear to interviews and such is said to be skimpy at times. Katniss is told to behave as if she is in love with Peeta and exchanges a few kisses with him.
Very violent. There are several deaths in this book, though that shouldn't be too unexpected, given the cover blurb. Not to mention, several characters end up with nasty burns, knife wounds, and wasp bites.

Saying this is an amazing book doesn't quite do this book justice. This book was so good, that I went out to buy the boxed set in hardcover when I already owned The Hunger Games in paperback. This book was so good, in effect, that I broke my OCD rule of buying in paperback, just so I could read Catching Fire and Mockingjay without waiting forever for those to come out in paperback.
So, do yourself a favor, go out, buy the trilogy in boxed set and make sure you have a day or two to read them, because once you get started, there is no turning back.