I am pleased I waited until the end of the trilogy to write this review. Because while the first book is really very good and is one of the few pageturners I've ever read, and the second is good as well (if not as good as the first, but sophomore efforts are so difficult you can't blame her here), it's the third that will knock your socks off.
I'm not entirely sure how she did this. She took a pretty horrible tale to begin with-- a game where children are pitted against children until all lie dead except one victor-- and made it so horrific by the end that Katniss' nightmares became my own (literally!). I think it's safe to say that no one under the age of 15 (maybe a bit older?) should read this book. But everyone over that age should.
It isn't so much the gruesome quality of the killing, it's that the story is relentless and there is no happy ending. All the things you want to come true for our flawed heroine, well, they don't happen. I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that. Because I flew through these books (I read the last one in 24 HOURS) I am probably not the best choice to ask about the writing itself. It's certainly good enough to pull you along, although I'm going to bet that's because Collins' plotting is stellar.
If you read her acknowledgements at the end of the last book, you'll see why she wrote a book like this. And good for her, really, really, because it is worth the entire ride. It's just definitely a young adult book, not a teen or a children's book.