Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Narrator: Carolyn McCormick
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Duration: 11 hours, 11 minutes
Series: The Hunger Games, Book 1
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Overall Rating: 5/5
This is one novel that deserves the popularity it enjoys. Wow, is this book good!
The main thing that makes this such a favorite is the suspense that Collins has woven in. I could not stop listening to this book! I kept trying to find more things to clean around the house to justify listening to it for “just another hour.” Of course, that hour turned into two hours, which turned into three hours — needless to say, I finished this one very quickly and my house was sparkling for a couple of days. There is never any part where the reader’s emotions are allowed to rest. Like Katniss, I was always on edge, waiting for her next challenge, waiting for the next bad thing to happen. This makes it a fast read. Also, since it’s told through Katniss’s eyes and the storytelling is excellent, I was completely involved in the story from start to finish.
Haymitch is by far my favorite character, with Katniss being a close second. I thought all the characters were wonderfully done. I got a sense of each of them without being told exactly who they were, what they did, and what I should think of them. Collins lets us draw our own conclusions by giving their personalities through Katniss’s eyes and letting the characters’ actions speak for themselves. I think this envelops all of the book, actually. She doesn’t dumb down the writing just because it’s young adult. It’s complex, teaches lessons without being didactic, and (better yet) doesn’t talk down to the reader.
Another thing I appreciate is the realism Collins brings to The Hunger Games. Problems don’t magically disappear and there aren’t any forced happily-ever-afters. It’s violent, brutal, and dark. Those who are squeamish will have a hard time with this story, but I think it’s worth it. For one thing, the violence isn’t there for shock value, as is the case for some novels, unfortunately. Rather, it’s a statement about the government of Panem and what these people are forced to live with. I like that the characters are forced to work through their problems and actually deal with issues. It makes for an interesting story, the characters are allowed to grow and change, and it reflects the real world. Problems don’t just disappear.
The narration of the audiobook is also excellent. McCormick is so talented at infusing her words with emotions and getting the pacing exactly right. The voices for each of her characters are easy to distinguish, even if you’re listening to it in the background. Her rendition is so well done, in fact, that I found myself pausing in my chores to just listen to her tell the story.
I highly recommend this to everyone. Yes, there is violence, yes it is dark, but these are parts of the message The Hunger Games holds. This is one book worth reading.