The Girl Who Was on Fire

You too can wear Katniss' pin!
I tend to be a bit of an avoidest when it comes to reading popular fiction.  I was unimpressed with The Da Vinci Code, I'm turned off by Oprah's Book Club labels, and I  have yet to touch Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.  I don't really think of myself as a book snob, I just try to avoid things that come with a lot of hype.  My reading is pretty expansive so when a certain work garners a lot of mass attention, I usually figure that my lone voice won't add a lot to the discussion.  People generally love it so does it matter if I do or don't? But sometimes a book that captures the critics praises sounds right up my alley.  Even though I don't always enjoy being part of the crowd, occasionally I'll be a bandwagonner.  So it was with The Hunger Games.  I devoured Suzanne Collins' young adult dystopia series last year (see my reviews of The Hunger Games and Mockingjay) and like many, I've been eagerly buzzing around rumors and announcements about the upcoming movie.

So the question is, why, after reading this series almost a year ago, am I still so captivated by it?  Why do I still reflect on the culture and world Collins created in her books?  Why is Panem - with all its inhabitants - remaining on the fringes of my thoughts?

Because the books are good.  That's the simple answer.  The more complex response?  Because great dystopia creates a world that not only speaks of a dark and distant future but also reveals the nearness of that darkness in existing society.  Because Collins wrote books that provoke thought and challenge the reader beyond the story.  Because all the best books stay with you after you read them.  And a group of young adult authors realized this.  They took their thoughts and compiled a series of essays exploring why and how The Hunger Games series managed to capture the hearts and minds of a generation of readers both young and old.

The book is The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy and it's a nonfiction compilation edited by Leah Wilson.  The essays range in scope from exploring the popularity and general appeal of the series to exploring some of the deeper and more mature themes of politics and society within Collins' writing.  As with any conglomerate work, some are better than others, but overall the book makes an excellent read for any Hunger Games aficionados.  The works included in the book are:

  • Why So Hungry for the Hunger Games? Or the Game of Making Readers Hungry for More, Why Readers' Imaginations Caught Fire, and My Sad Inability to Come Up With a Wordplay for Mockingjay by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Team Katniss by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Your Heart is a Weapon the size of your Fist: Love as a Political Act in the Hunger Games by Mary Borsellino
  • Smoke and Mirrors: Reality vs. Unreality in the Hunger Games by Elizabeth M. Rees
  • Someone to Watch Over Me: Power and Surveillance in the Hunger Games by Lili Wilkinson
  • Reality Hunger: Authenticity, Heroism, and Media in the Hunger Games by Ned Vizzini
  • Panem et Circencses: The Myth of Real in Reality TV by Carrie Ryan
  • Not So Weird Science: Why Tracker Jackers and Other Mutts Might Be Coming Soon to a Lab Near You by Cara Lockwood
  • Crime of Fashion by Terri Clark
  • Bent, Shattered, and Mended: Wounded Minds in the Hunger Games by Blythe Woolston
  • The Politics of Mockingjay by Sarah Darer Littman
  • The Inevitable Decline of Decadence by Adrienne Kress
  • Community in the Face of Tyranny: How a Boy with a Loaf of Bread and a Girl with a Bow Toppled an Entire Nation by Bree Despain
One of the brilliant things about Collins' books is how she brought heavy topics to young readers in an easily accessible manner.  This collection of essays is the book for those readers that want to dig deeper into these topics and delve into a further analysis on the trilogy.  The Girl Who Was On Fire is perfect as an addition to a book club, for the casual philosophy fan, or anyone who just can't get enough of The Hunger Games

4 Response to "The Girl Who Was on Fire"

  1. Tiny Library says:
    May 13, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    Sounds like a great read if you love the series. I've only read The Hunger Games, which I liked but didn't love. I will get around to the other two at some point.

    The Da Vinci Code is one of my guilty pleasures though! :P

  2. mummazappa says:
    May 14, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    Sounds like an interesting compilation - some big names in there!

  3. lisa :) says:
    May 17, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    TL - I think the fact that it was overhyped was what led to me not caring much for Da Vinci Code. I know I went into it with really high expectations which makes it hard for any book to live up to.

    mummazappa - Oddly enough, the essays by my favorite authors weren't my favorite pieces. And some of the authors I was previously unfamiliar with have made their way onto my TBR list!

  4. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz says:
    May 18, 2011 at 4:35 AM

    "Because great dystopia creates a world that not only speaks of a dark and distant future but also reveals the nearness of that darkness in existing society."

    Nicely put. I've read this sentence several times and each time I shudder, thinking about the scary truth you've captured.

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