Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy: A Literary and Cultural Analysis
by Tom Henthorne
Cover Artist: Shutterstock
Review by Mel Jacob
McFarland & Company Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780786468645
Date: 07 November 2012 List Price $40.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Similar in many ways to Alissa Burger's The Wizard of Oz as American Myth, Tom Henthorne's Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy differs because he focuses mainly on the written word and ebook forms of it rather than media representations of the story over time. Like Burger, he considers the impact of various societal and political mores and attitudes. He also adds literary criticism related the structure and possible influences on Suzanne Collins.
The book contains a biography of Collins, a glossary from the trilogy, a list of characters, discussion questions, a bibliography, and a brief index. Henthorne begins with an introduction with a very short overview of the trilogy, a discussion of the structure of his book, and then moves to Collins' biography. He follows with a discussion of the literary structure and a review of the various genre to which critics have assigned the novels. He also examines the trilogy's narrative form and use of present tense for immediacy. He believes verbal patterning and visual imagery play important parts in Collins' prose. In his view, the fact the novel does not end on an upbeat or triumphant note is a further departure from genre fiction. He says Collins has transformed the young adult genre and transcended it.
Henthorne also sees gender and patriarchal influences as important to Collins. She uses her main character Katniss to explore these. He cites the Games as a form of warfare. In the final chapter, Henthorne explores the various influences including media sources and Collins' work in television on her style and the trilogy.
The analysis considers a variety of topics at a reasonable level for intelligent readers and writers who may not be academics. Only a few terms will be unfamiliar. Many readers probably won't be that interested. It would be interesting to hear Collins' reaction to his descriptions and comments.
Below are three different views on the trilogy on three quite different websites. All agree with some of Henthorne's observations, but also offer their own perspectives. More books and thesis on the topic are sure to follow as the interest and the success of the series and products or books that build on it grow in number and variety. [Note all these links include spoilers.]