The Girl Who Was on Fire, edited by Leah Wilson: Book Review

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3.5 Stars

Editor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger Games trilogy.

How do I put this? I’m not really a huge analyzer of books. Sure, I write plenty of reviews, but in those I just write what I liked (or not) and why. That’s really about as far as I go. Back in my English class days, I could produce solid essays but since graduating, I’ve gotten to be a lazy reader. I’ll occasionally think about the more obvious themes in a book, but then I pick up the next one and move on. This collection impressed me because of the amount of thought that went into each and every essay. I had mused briefly about some of the topics, I think my sister and I even discussed a few of them, but these authors all went above and beyond in their analyses.

My favorite was “Team Katniss” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This was one essay that overlapped with a conversation my sister and I had. Why “Team Peeta” or “Team Gale”? Why not “Team Katniss”? Katniss is pretty freaking awesome on her own. Barnes presents her argument better than Rachel or I ever did. I just loved it.

I also really enjoyed “Community in the Face of Tyranny” by Bree Despain. I don’t recall thinking much about the (lack of) community in the world of Panem. Despain argues that part of Katniss’s magic comes from her ability to foster a sense of community wherever she goes. It’s true, and I liked it.

At first, I thought entries by Cara Lockwood and Terri Clark were a little more light-hearted but even these surprised me with their depth. Lockwood writes about the “Not So Weird Science” of Panem and how these far-fetched “muttations” could become realities sooner than we think. She also addressed the need for science to look at the consequences of genetic engineering and not just “Can we do it?” Clark writes about a “Crime of Fashion” and the role that Katniss’s looks, and Cinna’s hand in them, played in the series. How far would Katniss have gotten without Cinna? Sure, we the readers love her, but she would probably have been largely overlooked if she’d first appeared in a humdrum coal mining outfit.

I feel the need to mention “The Politics of Mockingjay” by Sarah Darer Littman. It draws blatant parallels between the politics of the War on Terror and the politics of Panem. I enjoyed reading it, but I know it will completely turn off some readers with different political beliefs. I was surprised to read this in a book aimed at young adults, but we all need to be aware of what’s going on in the world around us.

There’s a sequence of essays that leads from reality vs unreality to reality tv to the power of the media and those all kind of blended together for me. I can’t say that any were badly written, but I had, surprisingly enough, considered most of this while I was reading the trilogy. They started to overlap and get repetitive.

Fans who just can’t get enough of The Hunger Games trilogy should enjoy reading this. It’s thought-provoking and informative, and will probably leave you ready to re-read the books.

Read an excerpt.

Read more reviews at Book Journey, The Sleepless Reader, and Consumed By Books.

Buy The Girl Who Was On Fire at

Dewey Decimal Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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  1. I remember those English class days. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself for not analyzing books very much in my reviews or even with the book discussion groups I run at the library. I am just out of practice I guess.

    The essays sound like a good mix of topics. I didn't really look to closely at the essays when I decided to buy the book. I respect a number of the authors contributing and was curious about what they'd say.

    I think I will reread the books before reading the essays. It has been a few years…

  2. I loved the Hunger Games – I must get this book. Lol.

    I think your reviews are perfect – I personally don't need a lot of analyzing done in a review, I like to know what people felt about the book. What they liked or didn't like, etc.

    Have a great week!

  3. I wouldn't read a book like this for every book but I think my love of THG will encourage me to read it…and sooner rather than later!

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