This was a 3.5 star read for me, yet the high quality of story, character and writing rounded the overall score to 4. Although I found myself hooked, the premise nagged on my thoughts the entire time. I like a good dystopian novel every now and then, but, for me, this one combines an advanced technological culture with the highest degree of sadism, arrogance, baseness and deprevity. It went beyond my fantasy fueled suspension of belief limitation. Perhaps I'm naive, but I think a ruling class that sets children to murder one another for entertainment needs more of an explanation than was given. That aside, I was drawn into the story, shed a tear at Rue's death, and hoped with all my heart that love triumphs.
What more can you ask of a story? Since this is a YA novel, I'm hoping for thoughtful and positive developmental lessons. On a primary level, perhaps this novel will help the reader question the current state of entertainment in the US - reality shows, particularly. The sentiment of the novel lies with the weak and exploited. It demonizes the rich, powerful, technologically superior class. Good to look in the mirror every once in awhile to make certain a monster's not staring back at you. Anyway, not a bad place to start. I'm not very interested in reading more of the series, but would recommend the book.