Welcome to the 74th Hunger Games.
Who else is ready to see the games on screen in just over a week? The Hunger Games trilogy captured my heart from the first few chapters, and I’m not alone. The series about a futuristic, dystopian society where the government pits its children against each other in a brutal battle to the death grabbed millions of readers. The heroine of the story, Katniss Everdeen, wormed her way inside our heads. The story begs to be examined, and The Girl Who Was on Fire: Hunger Games Anthology provides pages and pages of just that treatment.
The updated Movie Edition anthology features three new essays not found in the original version. It was edited by Leah Wilson and features authors covering Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy from all sorts of angles. Authors discuss the politics of Panem, the parallels between modern reality television in our world and the Games, the genetic experiments in Panem, and the merits and pitfalls of the third book in the series (usually ranked the least popular). They dissect Katniss, Peeta, and Gale and examine the influence of people like Cinna. Most importantly though, they talk about the books in a manner that is engaging and not the least bit dry.
Since it’s an anthology, you probably won’t find every essay to your taste. Not all of the sixteen participating authors may necessarily write in a style which you find appealing. Don’t give up on an essay just because of its title though. One of my favorite essays ended up being a statement about fashion in Panem, Crime of Fashion by Terri Clark. I definitely didn’t expect to be so fascinated by clothing. I know outward appearance has a huge impact in the Hunger Games, but I didn’t consider the extent and all the consequences until I read her essay.
However, even the essays that didn’t grab me still made me consider points about the story I’d missed in my two readings. Jennifer Lynn Barnes makes a comparison between Katniss and Prim’s cat Buttercup that made me pause. I actually adored her entire Team Katniss essay, so that may not have been the best one to cite. Still, you get my point.
One of my first thoughts when I finished the book is that yeah, only serious fans of The Hunger Games would enjoy these essays and opinions. And it’s true; I was engrossed in the in-depth looks at our world vs. Panem. It might seem like a small demographic to target, but serious fans aren’t such a tiny group. Many people I know who have read the series fall into head over heels obsession with it. It’s not a casual, this book is okay sort of feeling. It’s a “I inhaled the first one and refused to leave the couch until I finished the trilogy” rush. For example, my sister decided to get a mockingjay tattoo almost immediately after reading the first book. Katniss inspires loyalty. But, I digress.
This book is also for the non-fans, particularly the nay-sayers. You know, those people who pooh-pooh young adult stories and turn their noses up because “teenage girls like it”. The kin of people who assume that no serious themes can be explored in books written for younger audiences. They could learn from this book. Themes of capitalism, prejudice, excess, and government control among others run rampant through the series. There are alarming similarities between our reality television and Panem’s Hunger Games. The comparisons made in this book are eye-opening.
I think it’s important to relate books and movies to the real world. Even though The Hunger Games trilogy is fiction, it represents a universe that’s not many steps from our world. Just a few missteps, and our country could become like Panem. Fiction can reveal truths about reality, and this anthology does just that while having some lighter moments, too (like the essay titled Gale: Knight. Cowboy. Badass). I’m looking forward to reading the trilogy for the third time with some things I learned from this book fresh on my mind.
Remember, we’re giving away five copies of this book. Check out the details on the contest page!