Book Reviews

The Girl Who Was On Fire edited by Leah Wilson

The Girl who was on Fire is not my normal kind of read. But this book was so fantastically terrific. If you’re a Hunger Games fan, this is worth a read.

Look, I am not the kind of person who wants to read endlessly about books I like (well, okay, I love reading blog posts about books I like, but I don’t want to read an entire book about people who have clearly thought way too deeply about something I read, enjoyed, and do not want to read a dissertation on).

So, I thought there was a distinct possibility I would not actually love this book.

And then I read the first essay and it was so ludicrously smart and engaging and I had to read whole paragraphs to Bart after he got home from work reeeeeeeally late and probably wanted only to go to sleep. But no! He must listen. (Good soul that he is, he totally listened. And acted interested).

There are thirteen essays in this book, each written by a different YA author, and each one is fantastic. The first one is about why the Hunger Games has been so insanely popular. I know, sounds cliche. But it’s anything but. For instance, this paragraph:

Another things that kept me reading compulsively was sheer interest in how the novel is structured: how does Suzanne Collins allay the very bleak premise of the Hunger Games enough so that we are not all carted, weeping softly, off to a lunatic asylum in the middle of Catching Fire, and how does she keep her characters sympathetic even when they are almost all, by necessity, murderers?

Why indeed? And that’s just the beginning. The chapter about Team Katniss – why she is such a fascinating character independent of the two boys vying for her love. Or the one about love as a political act. Or how fashion is used in the books (I was sure this would be the one I yawned through. I did not. Not even for a moment). How surveillance keeps people in check (or doesn’t). How Katniss’ world is one of smoke and mirrors, where it is incredibly difficult for people to tell what is real and what is not.

Reading this book is like going to an English class where your professor suddenly starts pointing out all the symbolism and themes and you think, “wow, I didn’t even like this book and now I want to reread it.” Imagine that happening with a book you actually loved. You could talk for ages about this.

I only read Mockingjay back in August when it came out, but now that I’m itching to read the entire series straight through. I generally wouldn’t be the person recommending a book of essays about another book, but here I am. Seriously, this is fascinating stuff.

Also, this book did what the three original books failed to do – it turned me to Team Peeta.

And. . . when I emailed the publisher to tell them how much I LOVED this book, they offered to give a copy away to a reader. So, if you’d like your own copy, leave a comment (one per person, only if you live in the USA or Canada, tragically (that is, it’s tragic that it’s only open to those readers, not tragic if you live in one of those two countries)). I’ll close entries at midnight on Sunday night and announce a winner Monday morning. Ta-da!

Advance copy received from publisher

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  • Reply Kimberly F. March 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I am listening to the books all the way through and I am still Team Gale. But we can still be friends.

  • Reply Nicole March 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I would really love to read this book. If not from you, I'll definitely be heading to my local library.

  • Reply lacie tidwell March 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    FUN!!! I wanna win!!! it sounds awesome!! can't wait to read it!!! LOVED the hunger games series!!!

  • Reply Heather March 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    OH yes, may this be the time I win something on a blog. It would be a wonderful read for me right now. Here's hopin!

  • Reply Elsha March 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Sounds excellent! I just read the Hunger Games series a couple months ago.

  • Reply Just Jaime March 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Looks amazing. I'd love to read all the different takes on it.

  • Reply Lori L March 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Your enthusiasm for The Girl Who Was on Fire has me intrigued – I'd love to win a copy!

  • Reply Merry March 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I just barely read the series last month, and I loved it! Please enter me in the drawing.

  • Reply beanjah March 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    If I'm the only male that comments, do I get 2 entries into the drawing? I love Hunger Games.

  • Reply Nikki March 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I would love to read this. Sometimes essays really draw me in, and these sound likes some I might enjoy!

  • Reply Steph March 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I want this book!! I LOVE Hunger Games!

  • Reply Elisa March 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I love the Smart Pop series!!!

  • Reply Lauren Kay March 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Oooh! This sounds really interesting. I totally want to read it. Hopefully I'll win my own copy!

  • Reply jpetroroy March 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I'd love a copy of my own. Katniss is such an intriguing character to examine.

  • Reply jenn March 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Yes, I would like to read this…sounds interesting! If not, I'll sure be requesting it from my library.

  • Reply Kimberly March 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Ok, this I will have to read. Not only is it just what my nerdy heart loves, but I'd love to see what turned you to Team Peeta.

  • Reply Janelle March 22, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I would love reading this book!

  • Reply S March 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    This book sounds excellent. I miss English class for this exact reason.

  • Reply Mary March 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for the chance! I actually love reading essays about books that I have read, and I read and loved this series. I'll have to check it out.

  • Reply NGS March 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    It sounds so smart. I've been team Peeta all the way, but I'd love more ammunition for my viewpoint.

  • Reply Sherry March 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I would like to win/read this book.

    I've always been Team Peeta. Maybe this would switch me to Team Gale?

  • Reply MeganElise March 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I loooooooved the Hunger Games series and can't wait to read this!

  • Reply Shannon March 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    How fun! I always loved reading books in class but then disliked them by the end because the teachers made us deconstruct them down to the very letter. I always wondered if the authors consciously put in half the symbols, alternate meanings and tangents the teachers said they did! I really do enjoy insights and back stories and connections where you can see events starting in book one that came to fruition in the last book and things like that. I’m very curious to learn more about The Hunger Games because it’s become so powerful! So…pick me! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Melissa March 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Ooh I'd love a copy! I read the series last April (and finished in August) then started again in October. That is a pretty quick turn around for me since I only got around to reading Harry Potter again three and a half years after D.H. came out. In my defense, Harry Potter is a pretty big commitment. Melissamturney(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Reply Rebecca March 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Sounds very interesting. I'll have to check it out one way or another.

  • Reply Melinda March 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Please pick me, and can we still be friends if I've always been Team Peeta?

  • Reply Mary March 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I love the Hunger Games trilogy! This sounds like an interesting book, would love to read it.

  • Reply heidikins March 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I'm intrigued…even though I didn't love the end of the Hunger Games series, I am intrigued by this book.


  • Reply preethi March 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I would LOVE to read this.

    Also, I never was able to decide between Gale and Peeta (unlike Twilight, in which case I have always been wholeheartedly in the Jacob camp).

  • Reply Ang March 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Oh I would LOVE this!

  • Reply Mary March 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I would LOVE to read this book!

  • Reply Shannon March 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    This book looks awesome!

  • Reply Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I'm a first time commenter, but I love your blog!

    I loved, loved, loved, these books! I actually just started the series about a month or so ago and have not yet finished Mocking Jay. I have looked forward to finishing each book and then reading your review!

    Regardless of me winning (which would be awesome), I will be getting this book!


  • Reply Lonica March 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I would love to read this book. Thanks!

  • Reply Katie Rich March 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I would love to win! I wrote an essay on HG last Winter, but at that time there was essentially no criticism published on the series.

  • Reply Hillary March 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Loved these books and turned Team Peeta about halfway through Catching Fire.

  • Reply Carly March 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Please please please!? I have been itching to read this book since you recommended it to me a month or so ago. And since I am totally an English Teacher (retired) and live for good analysis of good books, I think I need to own this one.

  • Reply squirt March 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I've been Team Peeta from the beginning, but I am nerdily excited for this book. Several of my students are into the Hunger Games, and I really hope I can convince them to read this, too.

  • Reply Merrick March 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    You are crazy for never being on Team Peeta before now…he's obviously the better choice. I'll read this book just to reaffirm my love for Peeta.

  • Reply Saskia March 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I don't live in the USA or Canada but I can give you an American address to send it to..I hope that's good enough πŸ˜‰

  • Reply heather March 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Oooooo! Exciting!

  • Reply Jill March 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I have been Team Peeta since I first read The Hunger Games. I am definitely interested Pick me! Pick me!

  • Reply Bethany March 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    awesome. yes please!

  • Reply Michael and Tasha March 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    What an awesome-sounding book! I would love to read it!

  • Reply Alisha Stamper March 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    man. i hate it when i read something in my google reader, and it rocks, so i rush over….. and there's 40+ comments already…. you could just pick me, hehe! I read the books in 3 days, ALL of them. I'm so hooked. This book sounds fascinating!

  • Reply Marcia Brisson March 22, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    I just joined a book group for these books and I am so excited. I love the imperfect heroine!

  • Reply Becca March 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Hmm, I'm actually intrigued. I was left feeling very unfulfilled at the end – did the book of essays help with that?

  • Reply Rachel March 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I can't wait to read this book! And since it isn't available at my library yet it would be so exciting to get it from you!!!

  • Reply Tanu March 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Sounds great!!! Count me in!

  • Reply Jenny March 22, 2011 at 9:14 pm


  • Reply Genavee March 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    That sounds so fantastic. Win or no, i think I need to read this.

  • Reply Anne L. March 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I would LOVE to read this book!

  • Reply Laurie March 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Oh my gosh, I was Team Peeta for sure by the time I finished Mockingjay. Also, I have to thank you for mentioning those sweet potatoe foil tacos….I tried them out on a whim yesterday (I was not so sure because sweet potatoes with taco meat seems like a straaaaange combinations) but they were DIVINE!!!!

  • Reply Emily March 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I'm dying to know what you switched to Team Peeta and would love to read this book. Thanks!

  • Reply Alison K. March 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I think this is a book i would enjoy!

  • Reply Julia March 23, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Pick me, pick me!

    The HG triology has been one of those books that has lingered in my mind for months now. I read them all at the end of september in a 2 day span and just loved them. I reread them again this month and found them just as spellbinding.

  • Reply Mia March 23, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Me please! Me please!

  • Reply melissa @ 1lbr March 23, 2011 at 2:54 am

    I was thinking I wouldn't be too interested in it either, but after your encouragement…I think I'd like it!

  • Reply Laura H March 23, 2011 at 3:13 am

    Sounds interesting. Please enter me.

  • Reply Jess March 23, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Pick me!! Pick me!!!

  • Reply Kate March 23, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Loved these books, and this sounds like an interesting read.

  • Reply Kathleen March 23, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Oooooh!!! Pick me! Pick me!!!

  • Reply Mad Hadder March 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I just received my pre-ordered copy of this!

  • Reply Sammy March 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    ohh yes! We just re-read the Mockingjay outloud on our road trip over spring break! We have another 20 plus roadtrip together in May and we'll need the reading material.

  • Reply Lisa March 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Enter me! Even though I haven't read 2 & 3, I fully intend to. Mike read all three back to back to back and LOVED them, so I think he'd like this too.

  • Reply Hilary March 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I'm in a doctoral program for Young Adult Literature–this book is right up my alley! Yes, please!

  • Reply Ella March 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Love the Hunger Games!!! But I'm still team Gale!

  • Reply emanoN March 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I want to win! Pick me!!!

  • Reply Maestra Amanda March 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    The movie comes out one year from today. I can't wait!
    Thanks for the giveaway πŸ™‚

  • Reply Thomas Stanley, Jr. March 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I would love a copy of this book. If I don't win it, I am still buying it πŸ˜€ I have heard only good about it, so I am excited!! πŸ˜€

  • Reply Chrissy March 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Can't wait to read this book–especially if it's converting people to Peeta πŸ™‚ He's the best!

  • Reply friffy March 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Want this. Need this. Love this.

  • Reply Melanie March 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Ooo, I'd love to read this!

  • Reply amberjade March 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I am dying for a copy of this book! <3

  • Reply M. O'Reilly March 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Would love to win! Can't get enough!

  • Reply Eti March 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I am so excited to read this book while re-reading the Trilogy πŸ™‚ and gain more depth into the story and characters before the movie comes out and takes away my picture of who the characters are… (but I can't not see the movie…)

  • Reply megan March 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    awesome. I loved the series

  • Reply ashleyb1182 March 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    You're making me want to reread the series. I'd love to give this book a try! (And just for the record, Team Peeta FTW!)

  • Reply My Blue Castle March 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Just re-read the series last week! Your review puts this book on my must read list!! Thanks!!!

  • Reply ELAIN March 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    That's so awesome. I hope I can feel the way you did about wanting to reread the books!
    Usually I don't like rereading books because I think it takes away from the first experience of reading it, but maybe with "The Girl Who Was On Fire" I'll be able to read it in a different light.

  • Reply Jessica M March 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I'm glad to hear that you liked the book. Oh, and now I want to do a re-read too, lol. Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

  • Reply LeeAnn March 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    This book sounds like a great tool to open up discussions in the classroom. Definitely added to my to-read list.

  • Reply elisabeth March 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    This is a cool book.It would be cool to win.

  • Reply Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I love meta books, and the Hunger Game trilogy has so much to chew on! (it's not liking my LJ addie)

  • Reply KK March 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I use The Hunger Games with my preservice teachers in order to teach them about teaching novels. They LOVE it, and they are all Team Peeta this term.

  • Reply Tabitha March 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I absolutely love this trilogy. I've even got a ton of girls in my sorority to start reading it. I am dying to get my hands on a copy of the book your giving away. Please pick me!

  • Reply Moriah D. March 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I had the same opinion about reading things about books i like. That's one of the reasons I don't like fan fiction. But, if you think this book is worth it, i would love to give it a chance. Thank you for hosting this contest! (:

    -Moriah D.

  • Reply Anna March 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I would love to read this book! I'm such a big fan of the Hunger Games Trilogy! It sounds so interesting and it would give me something to do while waiting for the movie to come out.

  • Reply *LaUrA* March 24, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Who doesn't love free stuff? Of course I want a copy! I have been team Peeta for a while;)

  • Reply .Ambur. March 24, 2011 at 5:02 am

    I would love to win a copy of The Girl Who Was On Fire, and I'm so glad to hear that it made you want to read the series again, you know it's a good book of essays when it does that! πŸ˜€ …and welcome to Team Peeta πŸ˜‰ haha

    Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this fabulous book of essays! πŸ˜€

  • Reply Shelly March 24, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Oh, that sounds great! I'll have to see if I can find a copy around here if I don't win!

  • Reply mfay2 March 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Enter me! πŸ™‚

    Team Peeta

    marynellie8 at yahoo dot com

  • Reply Kate March 25, 2011 at 1:33 am

    oh my gosh, I just finished Mockingjay on Tuesday. I'd read the first one a year ago but then haven't had the time and now that I'm done I want more. I'll HAVE to read this book- what perfect timing in a review!

  • Reply Anna March 25, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Very interested! I would love to read it!

  • Reply Mel March 28, 2011 at 2:25 am

    this sounds like an interesting read… want

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