Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I’m not going to bother summarizing The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for you, everyone knows what its basic premise is. I am likely the last person on Earth to have not read this series, or watched the movies. I didn’t want to watch the movies because I knew that I would someday get around to reading the books, and the books are always better than the movies. I had so much pre-hype and built up expectations surrounding this book. There was no way a YA Novel with this much attention and popularity was going to meet my hardened Fantasy Nerd expectations.

 I went into the book expecting it to fall short. I was wrong, and it was an amazing and exceptionally dark story. It went way beyond my expectations. I was enjoying the book so much that I even went to the library to get the audio version so I could listen on my commute to work. The thought of not knowing what was next in the story while in the boredom of traffic was not an option. I was really taken by surprise at the level of storytelling Suzanne Collins brought to the table in The Hunger Games. It was action packed, highly suspenseful, and utterly heartbreaking. Suzanne paints the picture of her dark world with a very vivid brush. The movie makers should have had no issues getting the feel for the world of The Hunger Games. I did wonder after finishing if the themes and events described in the book might be a bit much for the YA audience. Ultimately I decided that it wasn't.

The Hunger Games isn't violence and death for the sake of it, although that might be the impression we have gotten through the media. The Hunger Games carries with it a basket of important life lessons. Lessons of sacrifice, family, freedom, and helping those in need. I knew I had just read something special when I began drawing comparisons to John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Yes, you read that right. Steinbeck’s classic novel drew on many of the same themes Collins did in The Hunger Games. Of Mice and Men was about dreams, loneliness, helplessness, and making hard choice for those you love most. Characters in both stories find themselves in situations where they were powerless, abused, and oppressed. In my mind it was an easy comparison.

 I am looking forward to read the rest. Wanted to add a quick note about the audio book since that’s how I consumed a large portion of the story. The audio book was published by Scholastic Audio. This may have been my first Scholastic Audio book. Carolyn McCormick was the narrator/voice talent, and she did an excellent job. It’s such a dark book with so many tragic moments that need special attention from a narrator. Carolyn manages to capture the emotional ups and downs very nicely. I will be listening to the rest of the series on audio also.