Over the years I have heard so much about Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, and yet I've always been somewhat reticent to try it. Whenever books receive a lot of hype, I immediately begin to doubt whether I'll enjoy them. However, with the film coming out here next Friday, its trailers looking pretty good and early reviews being incredibly favourable, I decided to bite the bullet and read the first installment. And I'm pretty glad I did.The Hunger Games' greatest strength is its heroine. Katniss is an incredible lead character. She's brave and from the beginning it appears that she will do anything to ensure that her younger sister Prim, and to a lesser extent her mother, stay safe. Although she could seem emotionally detached in some situations; early on in the novel she talks about trying to drown a cat because she couldn't afford to feed it, and it takes her a while to actually begin to realise the real horror of the Hunger Games, she is a really good character. She's tough, and there are precious few moments in the novel when she needs to be rescued by anyone else. She really made me wish that more Young Adult novel heroines were like her, it would have probably kept me more into the genre if that were the case.Collins also brings to life District 12, the coal mining district, where Katniss lives in the Seam, the most poverty-stricken area very well. I've read some criticisms of the novel that attack the fact that no one tries to challenge Panem's order; but it seems pretty clear that District 12 are all far too exhausted and resigned to their fates to do so; although there are some notable quiet signs of rebellion on behalf of the people. On the flip side, the Capitol and all its inhabitants is also presented really well, the reader and Katniss both being exposed to this strange new world at the same time.The invention of The Hunger Games is also really clever, tapping in to culture's obsession with reality television, almost questioning how far we would go in our consuming of programmes. The idea that there are even Gamemakers, who can change the course of the game for entertainment value and with little care for the children or teenagers taking part is pretty chilling.My only problem with the novel was that I felt relatively unattached from the other characters; apart from in the case of Rue. Even Peeta, Katniss' male counterpart from District 12, felt vaguely distant-and even annoyed me a little bit; although this could be done more to the fact that the novel is told from Katniss' perspective. Plus I felt that the cruelty of the Games was perhaps not shown in enough detail; I understand that this a novel aimed at young people, but a lot of the violence seemed strangely bloodless.Having the read the book, however, I'm really looking to firstly seeing the film, and secondly reading the sequel, Catching Fire.