Friday, August 12, 2011

Review of The Girl Who Was On Fire

The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy

Katniss Everdeen’s adventures may have come to an end, but her story continues to blaze in the hearts of millions worldwide.

In The Girl Who Was on Fire, thirteen YA authors take you back to Panem with moving, dark, and funny pieces on Katniss, the Games, Gale and Peeta, reality TV, survival, and more. From the trilogy's darker themes of violence and social control to fashion and weaponry, the collection's exploration of the Hunger Games reveals exactly how rich, and how perilous, protagonist Katniss’ world really is.

• 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&mdashand what can we?

The Girl Who Was On Fire covers all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy.


As many of you know, I love The Hunger Games series and was an English major in college. This means that while I’m passionate about YA literature, I’m also used to reading academic essays. So when I heard a book of essays about one of my all time favorite YA series was coming out, I had a feeling it’d be my cup of tea. When the e-mail arrived asking if I‘d like to review said book, namely The Girl Who Was On Fire, I jumped at the chance. While a few of the essays fell flat for me, most of them had me muttering, “Wow, amazing” or shouting, “HOW did I not see that?!?!?! Brilliant!”

I could review The Girl Who Was On Fire in a variety of ways, so what I’m going to do is a highlight a few essays that I had extreme feelings about. Overall, this book is filled with essays by very gifted writers. There were times when I walked away from an essay saying, “I haven’t learned all that much that’s new to me” but I never found myself disagreeing or thinking that what an author had written was ignorant or stupid.

Before I get into individual essays, let me give you the fastest break down possible. If you are sitting on front of your computer going, “I’m a fan of The Hunger Games, is The Girl Who Was On Fire a must read for me?” Yes. Absolutely.

“The Politics of Mockingjay” by Sarah Darer Littman

Firstly, Sarah Darer Littman knows what she is talking about. Her essay is carefully researched. Secondly, it is very intelligently written. Thirdly, in making her analogies, Littman strikes the perfect balance between talking about our world and The Hunger Games. After reading this and Want To Go Private? I have a strong urge to run out and buy all of Littman’s books, because she is brilliant.

“Community in the Face of Tyranny” by Bree Despain

In her essay, Despain talks about how Katniss forms community throughout The Hunger Games series. It’s well written, and Despain has clearly read the books. However, I think she made two crucial errors in this essay. I think she needed to start off by saying, “This is the definition of community as it used in this essay and this is why any given society functions better with community.” Unfortunately, I never truly felt like she did that.

“Smoke and Mirrors” by Elizabeth M. Rees

We’ve certainly got an intriguing title and concept on our hands here. I think "Smoke and Mirrors" helped explain Katniss and Coin’s characters a little bit better. Overall, though, I left it feeling as though I hadn’t been presented with enough new information to be drawn in or left thinking afterwards.

“Panem et Circenses” by Carrie Ryan

Is it just me, or does anyone else love it when an author does something that may at first sound crazy, like compare reality t.v. to propaganda in a dystopian novel, but then totally pulls it off and blows your mind? Because that is precisely what Ryan does in her essay. She talks about how t.v. producers and editors can use certain footage to create narratives. Ryan’s essay was interesting and insightful in its discussion of Collins’s world and our own. Ryan’s brilliance is just one reason why even though I’ve never read anything by her, I have The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy on hardback sitting on my shelf, awaiting my attention.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publicist in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!

5 comments:

  1. Great review! This looks really good, and I didn't even realize Carrie Ryan had an essay in it! (Read the Forest of Hands and Teeth!! Doooo ittttt!) Very interesting!

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  2. I'm with you on this one. A couple of the essays fell flat, but overall it was amazing. I love when someone can get me to think critically about a book. I love it even more when they bring up points that I hadn't even thought of. This happened a lot throughout The Girl Who Was On Fire. I've recently read many other anthologies like this, but this one is still my favorite, I think!

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  3. Whenever an author writes a book, that author has the chance to create a web of thought that connects millions around the world. The book mentioned above sounds like an excellent discussion in that web.

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  4. Ok so I'm going to be honest. I really didn't want to read this when it was pitched to me so I declined the request but now I'm totally kicking myself in the ass after reading your review. This TOTALLY sounds like something I want to read.

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  5. Very cool. I've heard of this but have not had time to check it out.

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