An incredibly compulsive and well-crafted story. I had a fancy that the author devised the story while watching Survivor and thinking what would it be like if you took the show's concept to its most horrid, and depraved extreme. I'm sure that is not how she conceived of the tale but that's what I kept imagining.
1) Make the competitors children.
2) Make the competition to the death.
3) Make it compulsory through a lottery.
Add in a oppressed society, most of the population living in poverty and you've got a seriously angst-ridden story that was hard to stop listening to.