The Panem Companion

by Dawn


Were you as swept away by The Hunger Games series as I was? I devoured each book in turn, re-reading the previous installment in time for the next one’s release. I passed my copies around to any friend who would agree to read them, all in hopes that I’d have someone to talk with about the series. I literally watched as my husband read the series finale Mockingjay, just to see if he’d look up and want to talk about a passage he’d just completed.

You could say that I became a little obsessed with this story. Last year, I indulged my fangirl obsession with The Girl Who Was On Fire, a collection of essays discussing multiple themes from the series. This year, Smart Pop Books has given me yet another opportunity to revisit the world of Katniss and Peeta in The Panem Companion: An Unofficial Guide to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, From Mellark Bakery to Mockingjays.

In this book, author V. Arrow takes an analytical approach toward the influences and deeper meanings of the series. I can’t even begin to share my favorite sections of this book, as I’ve dog-eared practically the entire volume! Opening the book is the author’s logical and obviously well-thought out explanations about attempting to create a map of Panem. Taking in textual clues from various references to the land sprinkled throughout the books, along with logic about North American geography and resources, Arrow presents several versions of a physical map explaining why some work better than others. I found it fascinating to read the amount of thought and research that went into this chapter!

Throughout the fifteen chapters, themes that are addressed include race, ethnicity, culture, gender roles, sexuality, connections with mythology, possible origins of names included in the series, and analyses on specific characters, including an outstanding take on the influential role Cinna plays in the rebellion as a whole. With each chapter, the author starts new conversations about important issues that stuck with me long after I finished reading.

The Panem Companion is a thoughtful volume that encourages the kind of post-reading action that I absolutely love– breaking down a meaningful piece of literature to discuss its parts, influences, and meaning. I wish I could have a long, drawn-out conversation with this author about one of the most thought-provoking series that I’ve ever read!

Dawn loves to indulge her literary obsessions, and her husband especially appreciates when a book like this takes the onus of discussion off of him. More of her thoughts on parenting, books, and an adoration of NPR can be found on her blog my thoughts exactly.

Email Author    |    Website About Dawn

When she's not reviewing books, Dawn (and her online alter ego, morninglight mama) can be found blogging at my thoughts exactly and contributing to The DC Moms.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth December 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I loved The Hunger Games precisely because they were so complex that they sparked all sorts of interesting discussions! This book sounds great. Maybe I’ll get it for “Ilsa.” ;)
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2 Dawn December 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Yes, you should most definitely get the book for your daughter because then, after you read it, you’ll both be able to talk about it together. :)


3 Barb: 1SentenceDiary January 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I too wanted to discuss the Hunger Games books with anyone and everyone who would talk to me about them. *The Girl Who Was On Fire* was wonderful, and I may have to pick up this one as well. Thanks for telling us about it!


4 Dawn January 3, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Barb, if you liked TGWWOF, then yes, you should absolutely get this one, too. I guess we’re in the same club of fandom. :)
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