For me, this is the kind of book that could get a person into reading. At first I was a little worried about the whole first person-present tense thing but I had to say it added an irresistible element to the spine-tingling action of this book. It's the kind of book you stay up late reading till your eyes are frozen open and it's impossible to get to sleep.
Sure, not every element of the story is an original idea... the main plot of children being forced to battle to the death being one..., but the whole thing is just executed so well. Fast-paced and heartfelt.
This book (and I'm sure the series) goes quickly into the favourites pile and will be re-read by my for years to come.