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.