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.
Basic idea: boy turns to wolf every time it gets too cold.
Imagine if Twilight's Jacob character was an emo teen who turned into a regular old wolf (instead of a werewolf) and eventually would get stuck forever as a forest-dwelling howler and you've got Sam, one of two mains characters in Shiver. Grace has watched a certain yellow-eyed wolf roam outside her home ever since she was bitten by a pack of wolves as a child. The affinity she feels for this certain wolf becomes realized when she discovers that he is, in fact, a shape-shifting boy named Sam, and the two develop a plodding smooch-filled teen relationship that largely involves him waiting in Grace's car while she goes to high school. As is my major complaint with most teen books, the parents are conspicuously infantile or absent. In this case, the parents are artistic dingbats who are never home and when they are home tend to do weird things like paint in the nude and forget to make dinner, which makes it very easy for Sam and Grace to develop a lets-play-house relationship. Maybe there really are parents like this. I don't know. Even being raised by a single mom as a teen I wasn't allowed to have my bedroom door closed with my boyfriend over, so maybe it's just outside of my reality.
Anyway, the language is lovely and the first half of the book is especially well-written. It invokes the feel of the stark northern mid-west (think Leif Enger's Peace Like A River>. While not fully developed, the characters are thoughtful and interesting and the premise of the wolf transition is a new take on the ever-popular werewolf theme. If you're on Team Jacob and need some good werewolf filler, go ahead and pick it up!