The latest in the Julie Tozer recommended YA "horrible-alternate-world-scenario" series, The Hunger Games, is the most compelling so far. In this future world, the U.S. is divided into twelve districts, ruled by a very nasty bunch. This nasty bunch, referred to as the Capitol and headed by a President Snow, require each district to provide two "tribute," really a male and a female teenager chosen by a lottery stacked against the poor, to participate in a multi-week snuff television spectacle. The nation is forced to watch as the 24 teens fight to the death. As with reality tv, the proceedings are augmented with interviews and special features. There is also heavy betting.
Katniss, the protagonist, is a skilled hunter gatherer used to hunger and living by her wits. I don't want to say much about the plot, other than that it's pretty riveting, and that thank dog there's a sequel coming out in the fall.