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Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Talk: *The Girl Who Was On Fire", edited by Leah Wilson


The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy
Leah Wilson, editor/various contributors
Smart Pop (2011), Paperback (ISBN 1935618040 / 9781935618041)
Literary essays, 224 pages
Source: Publisher
Reason for reading: Personal interest

Book description, from the publisher’s website:
“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.
  • 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?
The Girl Who Was On Fire covers all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy.”
Comments: The Hunger Games are over, but the analysis has begun. Suzanne Collins concluded her Panem trilogy a year ago and Hollywood’s interpretation of it is still in production, but in the meantime, the series continues to provide some serious discussion fodder. The Girl Who Was on Fire collects thirteen essays from prominent young-adult authors that dissect Collins’ characters and themes and place them into larger contexts.

I’m interested in the ways that creative works take hold in popular culture, and even more intrigued when they’re recognized as having substance and significance that go well beyond their original constituencies. We’ve seen this happen with Buffy Summers and Harry Potter, and it seems that Katniss Everdeen and company may be headed down that same path.

The essays in TGWWOF cover a range of serious topics - politics, fashion, reality television and celebrity culture, community, social constructs and class differences, science and psychology - and each has its own particular presentation. Readers who delve into YA lit more regularly than I do will probably recognize more of the contributors to this collection, but I don’t think prior familiarity with the writers is all that important. What is important is that each contributor takes Collins’ work seriously, although none takes an excessively serious, academic approach to it. While I found some essays more interesting than others, I thought all of them were approachable and enlightening.

The Girl Who Was on Fire is an excellent companion to The Hunger Games, and I think it has the potential to appeal to a broad audience just as much as the work that inspired it.

Rating: 3.75/5

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