- I love Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I think it’s one of, if not the most intelligent, relevant YA series I’ve ever read.
- I am a major nerd. I actually enjoy English classes where we dissect novels and discuss the significance of the character deciding to wear a red hat.
So Smart Pop Books‘ The Girl Who Was on Fire, a collection of essays on the Hunger Games trilogy, definitely caught my eye. Most of the topics covered — reality TV, politics, Katniss’ character — may come as no surprise, but I found the essays all fascinating. Recommended reading for Hunger Games fans who enjoy debating with friends questions like: Team Gale or Team Peeta? Can jabberjays really exist? How can one teenage girl bring down a government?
(NOTE: Just to let you know, both the book and this blog post contain spoilers. If you haven’t read Hunger Games yet, I suggest you stop reading now, and read Hunger Games instead. 🙂 )
- “Team Katniss” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
When I read Hunger Games, I was always baffled by the Team Peeta/Team Gale debate. I really couldn’t see the romance in Hunger Games — for me, the trilogy was all about Katniss trying to take care of her younger sister. That probably says a lot more about me than about the trilogy, as will your view on what is important in Hunger Games. (For the record, I was firmly on Team Gale until Mockingjay, where I was torn between vulnerable Peeta and BFF Gale right up till Gale’s big confession at the end. Like Katniss, I wouldn’t have been able to get past that. For that, and many other reasons, I think Katniss made the right choice in the end.)
Barnes takes a similar position, that Katniss’ choice between Peeta and Gale is more about the kind of person she is than about the kind of guy she likes: “…sometimes, in books and in life, it’s not about the romance. Sometimes, it’s about the girl.” Two thumbs up, Ms. Barnes.
- “Crime of Fashion” by Terry Clark
I love fashion, and Cinna is probably my favourite secondary character in Hunger Games. So I’m thrilled that Clark gives Cinna the props he deserves. Katniss “might be the flame,” Clark says, “but Cinna is the torch.” Using celebrities like Li’l Kim and political figures like Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin as examples, Clark discusses the power of clothing for either enhancing or debilitating a desired public image. The arts, and creativity in general, have always been powerful tools for social change, and Cinna performs this role in Hunger Games. His designs shape the public’s perceptions of Katniss, from the girl on fire to the blushing girl in love, and of course, to that magnificent bridal gown that transforms Katniss into the Mockingjay.
- “The Politics of Mockingjay” by Sarah Darer Littman
A political columnist, Littman examines the parallels between Panem under President Snow and America under the Bush administration. This essay shows how relevant Hunger Games is, not just to our world in general, but to specific events in recent history. Littman turns the spotlight on us, the general public, who, disturbingly like the residents in the Capitol, spend more time discussing the latest elimination in Dancing with the Stars than the countless examples of human suffering around the world. It’s a very thought-provoking essay.
- “Your Heart is a Weapon the Size of Your Fist” by Mary Borsellino
Borsellino argues, “Love when there isn’t supposed to be love is a hugely subversive political act. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be protest marches in countries all over the world demanding same sex marriage.” Borsellino compares Hunger Games to George Orwell’s 1984 and shows how love is defeated in 1984 but is triumphant in Hunger Games.
Other topics include surveillance, genetic engineering, the illusion of authenticity in media, PTSD, and the power of community building. This book shows just how much Hunger Games can make us think about the world around us.