Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This book series has caused controversy ever since it was published in 2011. Some believe it a work of genius, with insight into communistic governments. Others claim it is a overly gory book series, that will numb and traumatise children to violence. Critics have gone as far as to state that the books are "anti-ethnic, anti-family, and violent, and of having offensive language, occult/satanic references, and references to overt sexuality." The movies have been banned from several movie theaters in Thailand after the District Twelve salute was used as an anti-authority symbol.
Now, it's time for my opinion. I enjoyed the series. The Hunger Games is a dystopian book with fantasy elements, not meant to be realistic or used as an analogy. It is a war trilogy, so yes, it is violent and dark. The stories could have benifited from a few less deaths, especially in the last book. It is not a series for people who struggle with nightmares, over active imaginations, or don't do well with gore.
But it has good points. It is beautifully written, with well developed characters, plot, and world building. There is no swearing or blasphemy, or explicit sexual scenes, making it cleaner than many YA books. Reading it as an older teenager, I didn't become immune to the violence, (which is portrayed as evil) instead I was stretched emotionally (Ok, ok, I might even have cried at a few points) which isn't always a bad thing.
The book has many good themes like love, sacrifice, standing up for right and those weaker than you. It also has some darker themes like revenge, violence, and depression.
This is not a tween series. I do not recommend reading it before thirteen. But I do think that it is a worthwhile read, especially the first book, which works well as a stand alone. The last two books are one continuous story line, so if you read Catching Fire, you will want to read Mocking Jay as well.
Overall, because of the level of violence, I rate this book 7/10. I still recommend it, but have a think beforehand about whether it is the right story for you.