16 April, 2010

(Audiobook) Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I have this obsession, and I know it drives my wife nuts, but I can't stand wasting time. That's why audiobooks are by friends. Anytime I'm driving, taking the bus, walking to school, it's all good book-reading time. It's all forward progression, especially since I usually have goals to read so many books a month, quarter, year, etc. And I've found that most libraries have a decent selection of audiobooks since they tend to be a bit pricey.

Now getting to the review. I'm terrible with peer pressure, I know. Everyone else seems to be reading this series and then I found it in the library. From there it was settled. (I'm still impressed I've resisted the Twilight fad for this long)

Goodreads blurb:
In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place.
I came really close to giving up on The Hunger Games (Book 1 of 3) [US] [UK] after the first few CDs. It was really frustrating how subservient these people are who live in each of the districts. They're on the brink of starvation, the rulers make it illegal to go hunting (although that's one place they actually break the rules), they can't say anything remotely seditious against the ruling class and to top it off they send two kids from each of their districts to compete in a "game" where they have to kill each other off - the winner is the one who out-survives the rest.

The book explains that no one fights back because the elusive District 13 was utterly decimated. But seriously? People who are starving anyway have nothing to lose, a quick death by decimation is much better than slowly wasting away. Not only that, you have the parents. Who would continue to let their children go off to fight to the death and not do something about it, or at least just not be so submissive to everything?

The kids arrive at the compound where they train and get ready for the games and yet again, they are completely afraid to break any rules. And yet again, what do they have to lose? They're about to go try to kill each other, why don't they do something? This is somewhat explained away because "sponsors" can help you throughout the game by sending you things you need and they'll only do that if they like you and you're in compliance with the rules.

Yet, I couldn't help but think that people would still be fighting back. But anyway, once I got over these couple niggles, The Hunger Games was a fairly enjoyable read.

Collins has created an interesting futuristic world where the ruling class keeps the people under their firm grasp by subjecting them to the horrible atrocities that are the Hunger Games. I thought she did a great job showing the intrigue of the games - that they were about more than just who's the biggest, strongest, fastest.

Once the Hunger Games themselves began, I was sucked in. The game designers plan a number of surprises and tricks to not only weaken the players but to bring them together. Whatever gives the most entertainment for the legions of crowds watching the grisly show. These were all really interesting and helped to move the plot forward very quickly, because I, like the insensitive crowd, like my entertainment too. :)

Almost immediately, the players created alliances (Survivor style) and it was interesting to see the dynamic especially since they all knew only one person would live. This was done quite well and even created some interesting twists.

It's interesting to note that The Hunger Games have been optioned by Lions Gate films and I'll be interested to see the movie. You always have to see if they got it right. :)

When Should You Read The Hunger Games?

When you're in the mood for something light and definitely young adult, The Hunger Games may be the way to go. I'm probably the only one who had the issues I had with the book, so don't let that hold you back.

3 out of 5 Stars (liked it)

The Hunger Games is followed by:

Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) [US] [UK]
Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) [US for pre-order] (Release date: August 24, 2010)


Bryce L. said...

I forgot to mention I think they did a great job with the covers to this series.

♫♥✿Chas @ LovLivLife Reviews✿♥♫ said...

I am the same way and My husband gets annoyed.

I agree with the covers. I am a little bummed about the light blue cover for Mockingjay. I was hoping for royal blue to go with the previous covers!=)

Aloha from Book Blogs!=)

Unknown said...

Sounds like an American ripoff of Takami's Battle Royale which is excellent. The films (they made a sequel) are not quite as good, but the book was impressive. Dystopia Japan where schools are selected to compete where only one survives.

Bryce L. said...

@Chas - Mahalo. Glad I'm not the only one. :) I hadn't thought about the Mockingjay cover, but you're right, it doesn't fit that well.

@Ty - I didn't even know about that but sounds really cool. I'll have to check that out.

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Good point! I was wondering why the people just accepted that life was just to starve and not fight. But then I realized later that they were so easily beaten by the government workers who had weapons and they didn't. But, the read was an enjoying read for me. I breezed through it very quickly and easily.

I do like the flyer for the movie. Really cool and dark. :)

Bryce L. said...

@Melissa - Good point yourself. :) It was a nice enjoyable read and I already have Catching Fire reserved at the library.

Paper Cut Reviewer said...

Great review! I just finished reading The Hunger Games and I really liked it. It definitely was a different kind of story which I found it very interesting. I also like the cover but it's funny because the cover at first is what kept me from reading this book. Go figure,lol! Thanks!

WonderBunny said...

Good review! I loved The Hunger Games (I think I gave it five stars). I thought it was an excellent young adult dystopian novel. As the book was told mostly from Kantiss' point of view I don't think they could mention descent among the people. She wouldn't know about it being both young and it sounds like that information on other districts really isn't available. The government tries to isolate each district so they can't talk and it actually made sense to me that you won't hear about uprisings. Plus I guess I also think that real history has proven that people will go to great lengths to keep the status quo, turn a blind eye (WWII anyone?) or selling/giving away children when there isn't the food to feed them. At least if their child won the games, there is a possibility of getting the child back and more food in the process.

Bryce L. said...

@papercut - Haha, that's funny how that happens sometimes. Cover was a plus for me, but I'm not everyone. :) Thanks for your kind words.

@wonderbunny - All very good points and I'm really glad I was able to get over my issues because this ended up being a good one.

Simcha said...

I loved The Hunger Games, which surprised me because I don't usually read YA. But this book really got me interested in trying out more dystopic literature, which until then I had been avoiding. I didn't have any issue with the subservience of the people because we can see examples of such situations in history. It's tragic but not unusual.

Bryce L. said...

My point was that these people are dying from starvation. I think Katniss even mentions at one point early on that she had nothing to lose because she was starving anyway. But then, this is completely ignored.

I also see why it was easy to get over, I guess I was just stubborn, but I'm glad I got over it because it's a good story. :)

Simcha said...

My point is, though, that the subjugation of one group of people by another is nothing new and asking why the populace in The Hunger Games allowed it to happen might be like asking why the Africans allowed themselves to be enslaved by Americans or the Jews annihilated by the Germans. Not that this question has not been asked but history shows us that it does happen, and so such a situation in The Hunger Games didn't seem inconceivable to me.
OK, I'll stop now :) Just wanted to make my point clear.

Bryce L. said...

@Simcha - Definitely, I guess I just wanted it explained more or something, but I think I'll take your attitude into reading Catching Fire instead of mine. :) I think I'll enjoy it more with a better outlook.

MaeveK said...

I loved these books! My cousin recommended them to me after saying how much I enjoyed Twilight!! I actually found them very emotional especially in the last book when they got Peeta back!!! I was in tears from then on at different parts of the book!!! I cant wait to see the film even though i dont think it will ever live up to these great books!!

the hunger games audiobook review said...

I loved this audiobook. Such a good YA novel and the narrator does the job perfectly. A cautionary tale about government and power, as well.