Listening to audiobooks at work is normally fine. I don’t get too distracted and I’m not the kind of person who normally has strong physical reactions to what they listening to. By which I mean that I don’t laugh out loud or anything. At least I didn’t until this book. On a couple of occasions, I had to stop myself from breaking down in tears. Considering I knew what was coming, this is even more of a ridiculous thing. I know I didn’t get enough sleep the night before but come on.
I know a lot of people get fussy about reading the book before seeing a film adaptation. Confession time: I did the opposite with this book. The Hunger Games originally came out way after I’d finished with YA fiction, so I never paid much attention. I’m also not the biggest lover of dystopian stories because it just doesn’t keep me engaged for very long. A lot of it just ends up being an endless list of increasingly bad things happening to a person/group of people. Somewhere along the way, the point is lost. So, I wasn’t really bothered by the books or the film until I watched them all a few years ago. After that, I decided it was finally time to read them.
Even though it’s a bit of a cliche to say this, I definitely think the book is better. Not by much but better. I listened to the audiobook read by Tatiana Maslany and she was incredible. Her performance helped to make Katniss into a more sympathetic character than she was in the film. Although I have to say, she’s up there with plenty of YA heroes that I dislike. Yes, main characters shouldn’t all be nice and good people. However, at times Katniss seems so self-absorbed and self-centred. Maybe it’s an age thing but I’ve never liked the way she treated her mother. I mean, the woman was grieving.
I don’t think she’s as skilled as people like to make out. Okay, she’s skilled with a bow and arrow. She has tracking skills. She can hunt. Aside from that, everything is mostly luck or being helped by other people. I genuinely believe that if Rue hadn’t teamed up with Katniss, the younger girl would have lived longer. Then, had the rule of two still been in place, she and Thresh could have walked away the winners. It’s so frustrating as Rue is a much more appealing character than Katniss. She has more depth and potential.
The story itself is a fairly standard dystopian novel with elements from popular books thrown in for good measure. I can’t say that it’s a truly original book but it was captivating. The narration is mostly good, but I wish the world-building was a bit stronger. Although, I understand that would be different as Katniss would only have experience of her own district. What this story has is emotion and drama. Is it perfect? Not, but what book is? You can pick holes in parts of the story but it doesn’t matter. This is a well-written story and the pacing is good. A few moments drag a bit but, for the most part, it keeps things moving along nicely.
Though Katniss isn’t everything she has been built up to be, I do enjoy any book that places a strong and independent female in the middle of everything. She follows in the footsteps of other great heroines and would be a good inspiration to so many younger readers. I can’t say that I would have loved this when I was a young adult but I can appreciate it now I’m grown up. I still think there are better versions of this story out there but it doesn’t matter.