The Hunger Games, Book 1
Reviewed Feb. 2019
Narrator: Carolyn McCormick
Length: 11 hours 11 minutes
Publisher: Scholastic Audio⎮2008
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Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 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 12 and 18 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
The Audiobookworm's Review
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I originally read The Hunger Games somewhere around 2008 in anticipation of the movies release. I read it on my Kindle, since that was quite a few years before my foray into the world of audiobooks. The Hunger Games has remained one of my most favorite series of all time. I'm not much of a re-reader, but 11 years seemed like enough time for me to forget enough of the little details so that I would be able to enjoy the story again, almost as new. I'm trying this new strategy to combat listening slumps. Whenever I'm in a listening slump, I'm going to reach way back in my library and find a book that I enjoyed before I began listening to audiobooks. Then I'm going to hear that book as an audiobook and see if/how the different format changes my view.
I initially gave the book five stars and I'm sticking to that for the story portion of this audiobook. While listening to it, the same emotions that I originally felt more than a decade ago flooded me once again. I think the story has aged well so far. I didn't see it with new eyes or anything like that. Maybe more time has to go by for that type of experience. But I did remember why I loved it so much to begin with.
And yes, I'm still #TeamPeeta. I was from the very beginning, even though it was never as much of a debate as the Team Jacob versus Team Edward. I think that was my favorite part of this experience, or re-experience. Listening to The Hunger Games made me feel 20-years-old again. I was both relieved and thrilled to find that my excitement and appreciation of Suzanne Collins work was just as alive as it was in '08. It had just been lying dormant for a while. For me, this was a "somethings never change" kind of experience and it's great to have those now and then. I guess the word for it is nostalgia.
Next up: Twilight.
Narration review: Given the fact that I started listening to this audiobook just for the narration and to see if/how my experience with Collins' work would differ with the audiobook format, I was quite disappointed in Carolyn McCormick's performance. There was nothing egregiously wrong with her performance, but she very clearly was not the right choice to narrate the series. I'm especially confident in this opinion knowing that the majority of listeners seem to share it.
For starters, McCormick clearly did not get the memo that this is a young adult book. On one hand, I like that she didn't sound too young and innocent because that would have been wrong for Katniss and the hunger games as well. However, try as I might, no amount of suspension of disbelief could make me buy into McCormick as a teenager. I found McCormick's narration to be more than a little distracting. It wasn't a situation in which I considered stopping listening, but Susan Collins writing deserved a better performance, in my opinion. That's why I'm shaving .5 stars off of my total rating. The story itself is still five stars, the narration deserves about four stars, so my total rating is 4.5 stars for this audiobook.
My narration frustration was compounded after I realized that there is another version of this audiobook which is narrated by Tatiana Maslany. I'm still kicking myself for choosing the wrong version of the audiobook. Maybe, after another decade goes by, I'll give that one a try. The Tatiana Maslany-narrated audiobook is the one that I recommend to you. I wasn't expecting the audiobook to be narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, but Maslany is certainly closer to that mark than McCormick. Unfortunately, Maslany only narrated the special edition of book one in the trilogy. If you want to hear books two and three, you'll have to put up with McCormick's narration. As for me, I think I'll skip them, at least until another anniversary edition comes out with a different narrator. ♣︎