"Ok for kids, but wow, the narration is appalling."
Firstly let me comment on the story and then I will move on to the real crux of my review, the narration.
I was persuaded by various friend that "no, Hunger Games isn't a children's book it is really good" and "It makes some really good points about politics and stuff". So let me clear this up. Hunger Games absolutely is a children's book and that is no bad thing. I found much of it, especially the politics and characterization, clunky and obvious but that is my own fault as a 40 year old man for listening to young adult fiction. I can easily see how the story and it's heroine would appeal to a younger audience with less jaded and sophisticated tastes.
So I don't want to focus on the simplistic and implausible World Collins has created nor the one dimensional nature of all the character who are simply there to fit one narrative purpose rather than plausible figures to understood and engaged with. The book is fine for what it is but doesn't have the appeal to a grown up audience of say, Philip Pullman.
What is not fine is the narration. As a fan of Star Trek, TNG, I was amused to note that Caroline McCormick was the actress who played the minor role of Minuet in the TV series. The role was basically a hologram with whom one of the characters fall in love. I had assumed at the time that the flimsy nature of the character was intentional as reflecting that she was the creation of a holodeck not a real person with real feelings. Having listened to Carolyn McCormick's narration of these books I am forced to assume that Minuet was the absolute limit of her acting abilities and she is simply incapable of imparting the emotional depth of a sun dried puddle to her performances.
Her reading of this book is truly extraordinary in it's awfulness. Very nearly enough to make me give up on the book altogether. Her attempts to portray different characters are risible and she barely seems to understand the text she is reading - and this is not a complex text after all. It was of no surprise to me to learn, on consulting IMDB, that Minuet still marks a career high water mark for McCormick even thirty years on.
So, in summary, Hunger Games is a perfectly passable kids book but not one that any self-respecting adult should be recommending to their peers. That, however, should be moot since the narration makes the whole experience traumatic for the listener.
When you listen to a book that you don't want to end because it's so good, you know that it's well written, narrated, engaging, has a sound plot and a is an all round good read. I loved the book from start to end. The characters are realistic and the plot addictive! This is a must read. JK Rowling watch out, this is serious competition. Can't wait to listen to book two and three!
"A refreshing female protagonist"
Superficially similar in setup to the famous Battle Royal books/film, The Hunger Games follows Katniss Evergreen who is participating in the annual blood bath, a winner takes all death match. In addition to being an enjoyable, well paced book, there were two things that I particularly enjoyed about this book.
1) The media/viewer interaction aspect. It works well in the post Big Brother world.
2) The book seemed to be lurching into some common tropes used for female protagonists, (the beautiful girl who doesn't know she's beautiful, etc), which I was willing to roll my eyes at and move on, but subverted it in a very nice way.
Considering the subject matter, not overly gory for the squeemish, well read and has twice so far tugged firmly at my heart strings.
The book is gripping, a page turner, almost constant interest and suspense. Although it was enjoyable, I couldn't really see its point. The gamemakers and capitol are so cruel, they put on this bloodbath for the amusement of its citizens - but, for me, this book turns the reader into one of those cruel voyeurs. There is the excitement of the hunt, but very little rebellion against the system. I hope this comes in the subsequent books. The only real tantalising plotline is the "is she in love with him" one, but the female lead is almost comically unaware of her own true feelings, making it not totally believable. The narration is good, but exposes clunkily written dialogue with the repetitive "he said", "she said" jumping out after a while. I didn't hate it though - I listened to it for my bedtime story and it didn't make me sleep!
"Great book, disappointing audiobook."
Let me begin by saying that Suzanne Collins' novel is incredible! I really enjoyed reading the whole trilogy; however, my disappointment came when I purchased this audiobook for friends to listen to on a long car journey. The reader has a clear and strong voice and I'm sure is very suited to other texts, but not appropriate for The Hunger Games. She reads the text very slowly almost as if she is reading a recipe. It's incongruous with the pacy, first person, present tense narrative of the Hunger Games. There was just no drama or tension being developed in the way it was read. I do not want to sound overly critical of the reader, but as I said: disappointing.
"Big Brother - on Acid. Love it!"
A first hand narration by a young girl called Katniss, who lives in a dystopian world where teens between the ages of 12-18 are all possible candidates for what are called the Hunger Games, a contest to the death. When her younger sister's name is chosen, Katniss takes her place.
A very original and a truly gripping tale. Very touching indeed. Highly recommended!
P.S. This is the first of the trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mocking Jay
"A great audiobook"
I wasn't sure what to expect but I've found this audiobook to be very well written by the author, read beautifully and also quite addictive! I would recommend it to anyone.
"Family Read at its best"
A great story for all the family to read and discuss, great for pre and youg teens, this book was the topic of conversation over many dinners. A well written story which will make you value what you allready have. The other 2 books in the series are equally as good.
"The book that is on fire!"
I like how the story is told from a first person viewpoint of Katniss. I loved the little anecdotes about her time spent hunting with Gayle in the woods outside her district and her struggle in trying to support her family following her father's death. Katniss' viewpoint and these intermittent recollections give a richer understanding of Katniss the person. This is something that I feel is somewhat lost on the film version, which I had actually watched before reading this.
I enjoyed the connection with nature that Katniss has. Katniss is a hunter, she understands different plants and can call out to the Mockingjays in the sky who echo her songs. I enjoyed hearing about how she adapted to living wild in the games with her own awareness as a hunter. I found her resourcefulness very interesting.
This is the first time I have listened to a narration by McCormick and I enjoyed it very much, well performed and clear throughout.
I found Katniss' relationship with fellow tribute Rue particularly moving. Rue is a 12 year old girl from another district who Katniss befriends in the games and tries to protect. I will not say what happens between them so as not to spoil it!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games and I am eagerly anticipating listening to the second one! Something I did find a bit irritating was the apparently pretend relationship Katniss has with Peeta Mellark. If you were really in a cave starving and injured with fellow tributes baying for your blood would you really fake a kiss for the capitol which had sent you here in the first place? I found that detail hard to believe but I can see the significance of it in the wider story line.Overall I found it a very interesting listen and one that I couldn't stop listening to at times. Recommended!
One of my favourite reads of all time. Put hunger games on your reading/listening list!