They might not have been great literature, but these books were fucking awesome. I read all three in less than a week and part 2 in pretty much one sitting. I couldn't put that bitch down! The story is set in a future post-America North American country called Panem (yes, it's based on "bread and circuses"). The country is divided into twelve districts (Thirteen was destroyed as an example against rebellion). Here's a rundown of the districts, but let's just save time and say One is the Capital and where all the politicians and ultrarich live and the other districts are less fortunate. Twelve, where our young hero Katniss lives, is a dirt poor mining area. She lives in The Seam which is pretty much just shacks surrounded by an electric fence that doesn't work. After her father was killed in a mining accident her mother mentally checked out and Katniss becomes the sole breadwinner and responsible for raising her little sister, Prim. To do so she hunts in the woods which are off limits.
Each year as a soul-crushing reminder the Capital puts on The Hunger Games. I won't go into all the rules, but two children (one male, one female) from each district are chosen at random to go into a massive arena and fight to the death. Yes, that sounds a lot like BATTLE ROYALE, but BATTLE ROYALE was boring as fuck so who cares? Anyway, shit happens and Katniss ends up in The Hunger Games and it's...alright. The book was great, but the film lacked that emotional element that really made the novel so addictive. Also the lack of Gale (and other stuff back in The Seam), the relocation of the rooftop scene, the Cinna character was weakened, the changed origin of the mockingjay pin, the pussification of the wolf mutts, the altering of the Rue scene and the reduction of violence hurt the film. I enjoyed it and time flew by, but it wasn't as awesome as it could have been.
My recommendation: devour the first two books, read the third and tolerate that weak ass ending then watch the movie. Here's hoping the second movie is rated R and awesome as fuck. That novel was so action-pack and rad I was dancing around my crib like this while reading it.