Warning: This Way Lie Spoilers
It's no secret that I love Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. I've read the books three times now, the last time so I could write a fancy learning, academic-like paper. I am so pumped for the movie. It comes out the weekend before my birthday so I'm going to go see it. Maybe twice. And while I'm happy with the finality of Mockingjay - seriously, not every series or movie franchise or television show has to go on forever and ever until it's too awful to continue - I am kind of sad that the adventures of Katniss, Gale, and Peeta are pretty much over.
So, when offered the chance to review the movie tie-in version of The Girl Who Was on Fire, a compliation of essays on The Hunger Games trilogy by other YA authors edited by Leah Wilson, there wasn't much arm twisting involved. FYI, there is an edition of this book in stores currently, but this is a review of the movie tie-in edition with three additional essays.
I have to admit that I was a little hesitant at first. I'm still coming down from the high of writing my first smarty pants academic paper in almost six years, on the very subject I was about to review. I didn't know what to expect. But I was delighted by the variey of essays with Wilson's volume - they ranged from fun pieces on the importance of Cinna's fashion sense and Gale's persona as a knight/cowboy/badass - to very serious and slightly alarming examinations of Game Theory and PTSD within the trilogy.
Two essays that especially stood out were "Team Katniss" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and "Your Heart is a Weapon the Size of Your Fist" by Mary Borsellino. Both essays focus on Katniss as a person as opposed to Katniss the girl in a love triangle, or Katniss the government tool. Katniss Everdeen is one of the strongest, smartest ladies of YA lit., and she deserves to be seen as such. She's also a complexly emotional individual when she's able to let her guard down (which really is almost never, but we get glimpses throughout of who Katniss might have been in a more compassionate world).
(Wallpaper by Asphyxia-Pallida.)
Another essay I can't help but bring up is "Did the Third Book Suck?" by Brent Hartinger (one of the essays only in the movie tie-in edition). Brenda and I have wildly varying opinions on Mockingjay, and it seems that anyone who has read it either loves it or hates it. I adore it. [I merely tolerate it. -Ed.] I love how different and honest it is. I love that Katniss' life doesn't wrap up like a neat little present. And truthfully, I love that she picked Peeta. While I'm Team Katniss first, I'm Team Peeta second.
To me, Gale was never a realistic option. I have to think back to Geektress' Hunger Games podcast, where awesome guest Adele Walsh referred to Peeta as a doucheboat: Half dreamboat, half douche. I'm not entirely on board with the douche part... but damn, can you imagine that declaration of love bombshell dropping on you? In a situation like The Hunger Games? Hartinger comes to the conclusion that Collins is worth admiring for taking a risk by writing a vastly different book with Mockingjay. However, he feels like her efforts fell flat. In the context of his essay, that seems fair.
But back to The Girl Who Was on Fire. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy as much as I did (and I enjoyed it a lot), this book is worth picking up. Every author's voice is casual enough to speak to the readers instead of at them. Many of the essays are opinion oriented, but even the ones supported by sciological and scientific fact are engaging and accessible. At no point did I feel any author was dumbing down the series or writing over my head. As a whole The Girl Who Was on Fire is a pretty solid meditation on a wonderful series that is ripe for analysis.
At the time of this review, The Girl Who Was on Fire - movie tie-in edition is avalable at your local bookstore and online.