Katniss lives in our world...in the (hopefully) far away future. She lives a tough life in District 12 where she spends most of her time trying to provide for her mother and sister after her father died. She does this by hunting in an area that is forbidden, and she is darn good at it.
Every year, her life takes an even deeper dip on reaping day. This is the day when the government makes each district pay for the uprising against the government years before by selecting two of its children-1 boy, and 1 girl-to participate in The Hunger Games. At District 12's reaping, Prim, Katniss's sister, is called to participate. Katniss quickly volunteers to stand next to Peeta, the baker's son, and participate in her sister's place.
The Game is televised nationwide, and the only way to win is to win over your audience. This isn't Katniss's area of expertise, and she leans on the help of her fashion designer and coach, as well as Peeta to prepare. Unfortunately, when it is revealed that the only way to win is survive-it is kill or be killed, literally- Katniss realizes the only one she should truly depend on is herself.
I think that there are a lot of reasons that I love this book. Again, the kick-butt female character who needs no one, especially not a boy. I also like that it moves quickly, and seems like it could get even the most reluctant reader involved. It has a girl as a main character, but Peeta has quite a large role as well. There is romance, but there is fast-action that focuses on hunting, fighting, and survival. It is not a book for boys, girls, or just young-adults. It has something for everyone.
Read the Time Magazine article at the link below about The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, the sequel.