Book Review: The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Smart Pop
· Leah Wilson
by R.J. Carter
Published: April 8, 2011
You know your book is a success when it becomes a New York Times bestseller. You know it's a cult phenomenon when Smart Pop publishes the opinions of your peers as they lovingly dissect your work.
Ms. Collins, welcome to phenomenon status.
The Girl Who Was on Fire is a collection of dissertations from a number of Young Adult authors, sharing the impact had on them by Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and the Hunger Games of Panem. If you thought you knew everything about this trilogy, think again: herein are some fresh interpretations and some keen insight that will enable you to see the world of the Capitol and the Districts with a clearer and more educated vision.
To warm up the audience of readers, Sarah Rees Brennan addresses the phenomenon itself, with her essay "Why So Hungry for The Hunger Games?" With her trademark self-deprecating humor and honest approach, Brennan recounts her own experience getting sucked into The Hunger Games, before extracting what she believes are the critical questions and raw essence of the series that so affected readers the world over. Hot on her heels is Jennifer Lynn Barnes, who takes to task readers who divide themselves into camps based on which love interest of a triangle is better for the heroine. Team Peeta? Team Gale? Barnes cogently and deliberately details why the best and only team to root for is "Team Katniss," as she gets deep into the issue of finding one's identity, following Katniss as she discovers who she is for herself.
Mary Borsellino takes us into headier realms as she explains the idea of love as a political act in "Your Heart is a Weapon the Size of Your Fist," While Elizabeth M. Rees points out some of the overlooked deceptions in Katniss's world in "Smoke and Mirrors" and Lili Wilkinson focuses more on the role of constant surveillance in the world with "Someone to Watch Over Me."
Ned Vizzini delivers a particularly humorous and biting perspective, as he mirrors his own experience working with the media against Katniss and Peeta's own adventures with Caesar Flickerman, before delving into the whole idea of fame for its own sake and self-awareness in a reality television obsessed culture in "Reality Hunger." Reality television gets another well-deserved excoriation in Carrie Ryan's "Panem et Circenses," the Latin phrase for "bread and circuses" from which the nation of Panem gets its fictional name.
Part of what made The Hunger Games so thrilling was the scientific advancements in surgery and genetics. If you think this made the whole story just a bit too scifi, Cara Lockwood shares why some current "Not So Weird Science" might mean the world of Panem isn't as far removed from us as we might like to think. But if it was the costumes that drew your attention -- and attire did indeed play an important role throughout the entire trilogy -- then Terri Clark's "Crime of Fashion" is a must read for you.
Smart Pop always delights and informs with their product, and The Girl Who Was on Fire is no exception. This miscellany is a sure-fire conversation starter and an outstanding reference guide for book club and class discussions. Highly recommended.