If you haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, a dystopian fiction series that’s technically in the Young Adult literary category but has broken all boundaries to become a sensation among readers well beyond the “young” part of adulthood, then you’re missing out on a contemporary classic in the making. For those of us who have read all three books– especially for those among us who have read them multiple times (ahem)– a newly released book of essays on the themes and ideas put forth in this book is a wholly welcomed addition to our bookshelves.
The Girl Who Was On Fire, edited by Leah Wilson, presents thirteen articulate, thoughtful and serious treatises on the trilogy’s themes and major plot points. Take an informal book club discussion and meld it with a college literature class, and you’ve got this incredible anthology. A variety of contemporary YA authors contribute to the collection, and it’s clear from the start that each and every one of them is passionate and insightful about the content of the trilogy.
The back cover drew me in at once with teasers for some of the essays posed in the form of these four questions:
- How does the way the Games affect the brain explain Haymitch’s drinking, Annie’s distraction, and Wiress’ speech problems?
- What does the rebellion have in common with the War on Terror?
- Why isn’t the answer to “Peeta or Gale?” as interesting as the question itself?
- What should Panem have learned from the fates of other hedonistic societies throughout history– and what can we?
After I read each of The Hunger Games books, (which I happily reviewed here- The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay), I begged my husband to take the book from my hand and immediately begin reading, for I longed to discuss them with someone. The ideas presented in this series are disturbing and encourage readers to continue thinking long after closing the final page. With this collection, these authors are continuing the discussion, offering their own insightful analyses, and making connections and parallels between the dystopian world Collins imagined and the one in which we currently dwell.
In a serious discussion of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it applies to Katniss, her mother and Haymitch, among others in the series, author Blythe Woolston delves into the horrors inflicted upon them by the Capitol, emphasizing the impact that was made from the intense psychological abuse they suffered. In another essay, Sarah Darer Littman compares the world of Panem to that of ours politically, calling attention to the War on Terror and the actions that have been sanctioned in the name of security. The power of love is explored, for when it is connected to community, family and survival, it raises so many more questions than the simple “Team Peeta” or “Team Gale” debate, as Mary Borsellino presents. Reality vs. illusion, community vs. dehumanization, empowerment vs. control– these are all themes that are discussed, and I honestly feel overwhelmed even trying to skim the surface of the incredible content of this deceptively slim volume.
For fans of The Hunger Games series, The Girl Who Was On Fire serves as the perfect reading companion, one that emphasizes the strengths of the novels and pushes the reader to dig even deeper into the material, to continue to ask questions, draw comparisons, and apply the lessons to one’s own life.
It brings me great joy to be able to share this anthology with one of you! We have one copy of The Girl Who Was On Fire for giveaway, simply leave a comment here to be entered. We’ll announce our winner on 4/27.
- The winner of the audiobook In a Heartbeat, Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving is # 19 Stephanie.
- The winner of This Child, Every Child is # 2 Bin.
Dawn loves reading and talking about what she’s read. She was the geek in English class with her hand constantly raised. Now she gets to voice her opinions on everything under the sun on her blog, my thoughts exactly.