Jess got The Hunger Games trilogy for Christmas. She read them sometime last month and I read them this past week. I was quite impressed. I was a little skeptical at first since the series has been getting a lot of attention. And it seems that oftentimes things that are highly popular tend to pander or don't have any depth. For instance, the Harry Potter series was highly overrated in my opinion, especially since the writing was only mediocre until book 4 (when it improved dramatically).
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games series. It definitely was not formulaic. The analogy I thought of was that the Hunger Games is to Harry Potter as the Daniel Craig Bond movies are to the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies. That is, when Pierce Brosnan was Bond he was basically untouchable. The perfect hero who can get through anything without so much as a scratch. While the Daniel Craig version takes a lot of damage. Sure, in Harry Potter there's plenty of trouble for side characters, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione all end up basically undamaged and triumphant in the end.
The characters in the Hunger Games series are definitely worse for wear by the end.
The storyline is excellent and really drew me in. I had no problem reading for several hours at at a time.
In short, I really enjoyed the series. So I recommend them to anyone who likes stories based in future dystopian societies.