The main character is a strong, jaded female forced into the mold of circumstance. Her maturity, and at times, immaturity, are well-placed and believable given her age, background, and the harshness (both mental and physical) of her surroundings. Though the male counterpart, Peeta, seemed a bit flat and their would-be romance deliberately difficult to buy, Katniss herself made up for it. If only because the author was masterfully subtle in the matter-of-factness of the character's voice, and her consistent ability to get me to ask myself 'what would I do if that were me?' questions. The moral depravity of the situation isn't thrust on the reader with undertones of the author's feelings, it simply is what it is--a cruel force that happens to be unimaginably above and beyond the control of any of the characters.
The degree of boyscout-like survival tidbits was downright inspiring, and along with the brutal depictions of violence, gave the book a certain appeal to males. The details on edible plants and basic survival skills was accurate without being dull...and indeed, the moral quandaries presented in the story result in a wealth of potentially valuable but covert lessons. For that, the book has earned a place on the list of those I will encourage my children to read on day. When they are of an appropriate age to handle the darker concepts contained therein, of course.