I love distopia novels; if I had to list off some of my favorite books of all time, books like 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New Worldand The Giver would all rank pretty high. In each of those books, in their own way, they show that often society's biggest flaw is it's desire to be perfect and the sacrifice's they make to achieve this.
A few months back, I heard about a new distopia book called The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins. In a nutshell, the book takes place in a future version of the United States; in this future there are 12 districts, and every year the 12 districts send two teens (a boy and a girl) to fight in the Hunger Games--a televised battle where 24 kids fight to the death and only one survives.
Katniss, a girl from one of the weaker districts (District 12), agrees to fight in the games in place of her younger sister; she knows she doesn't stand a chance in the games because, unlike some of the other districts, District 12 doesn't train kids for the games from an early age. Katniss learns quickly the power of media manipulation (one of many great themes in the book), and it's here that the book really starts to take off.
I've heard a few people say this book is just a cheap rip-off of Battle Royale; I haven't read Royale yet (but it's currently on my reading list), but I am going to take a wild guess and say they're wrong. I can see the similar themes, but The Hunger Games is more about finding identity than attacking a social structure--there's really hardly any back-story at all about how the society in The Hunger Games got to be the way it is.
At the heart of the book is a story about friendship, romance, sacrifice, survival, and discovering your identity--each key ingredients in what makes compelling read. It's also not very gruesome--something I hear Battle Royale is.
The Hunger Games is the first book in a proposed trilogy (Catching Fire comes out in September); I imagine it's this book that will go a little deeper into what's wrong with the society and play more on the theme of man's voyeuristic tendencies. I can't wait to read it, because by the time I finished The Hunger Games I was completely engrossed with the characters and eager to see how they develop.
I won't give away the end, except to say the games do end and the government is not happy at all with the outcome, because they have been embarrassed.
Check it out if your looking for a summer read you won't be able to put down.