The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collin (author of the "Gregor" series) hits it out of the ball park with THe Hunger Games. First in a series of three, this novel has gotten nothing but rave reviews and for good reason: it will hook you in and leave you craving more. In a futuristic post-apocalyptic world (don't the best ones seem to start that way?) there are 13 districts rippling out from the Capitol; and in order to mark the failed uprising of the 13th district, the Capitol holds the immensely popular Hunger Games. Each year two tributes from each District are chosen to compete to the death in a staged arena until only one victor emerges. Did I mention that the tributes are children? But of course. Because how best to perpetually punish a botched rebellion and keep people under the Thumb than by killing off their children? Sick? Totally. Disturbing? Absolutely. WIll you be able to put it down? Not a chance.
Imagine "American Idol" meets "Gladiators". The tributes are cast into a spotlight that echos the bustle of starlets in Hollywood, are filmed at every moment, are watched by every citizen. Main character Katniss is strong and savvy, Peta is kind and constant; both come from the shambles of District 12 and must fight to stay alive in the Hunger Games arena. But the methods they use will have the Capitol panicked and the populace rioting.
Believe the buzz. It's a great read for young adults and grown-ups alike. You'll be reaching for the sequel withint days.