Fan opinion in book form {The Panem Companion by V. Arrow}


Fan opinion in book form

Synopsis of The Panem Companion - from Mellark Bakery to Mockingjays by V. Arrow:
-What does Panem look like?
-How does Panem define race?
-How do Panem’s districts reflect the major themes of the trilogy?
-What allusions to our world are found in Panem names like Finnick, Johanna, Beetee, Cinna, Everdeen, and Mellark? 

Go deeper into the home of the Hunger Games with the creator of the best-known fan map of Panem. The Panem Companion gives fresh insight into Suzanne Collins’ trilogy by looking at the world of the Hunger Games and the forces that kept its citizens divided since the Dark Days. With a blend of academic insight and the true passion of a fan, V. Arrow explores how Panem could have evolved from the America we know today and uses textual clues to piece together Panem’s beliefs about class, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexuality, and more. Includes an extensive name lexicon and color-illustrated unofficial map of Panem.

My two cents

I can't deny that I love the Hunger Games (the books, the movies were so-so for me). So when I won a copy of this companion book on Goodreads years ago, I was thrilled. But I distinctly remember starting-stopping-starting-DNF this ... I just couldn't get into it. I was doing a massive clean-up of books and this one would've made it into the donation bin ... until I flipped through and chanced upon the theory that Prim may actually be Peeta's sister ... hmmm, ok, I thought, and flip here and there I did.

***

I can't deny that this book holds some intriguing theories and explores so many possibilities. Bouncing around from the origins of Panem, to class, to political power, to race and ethnicity, to gender, to beauty, and everything in between, this book is a little goldmine for a diehard fan.

Panem a ruined North America centuries down the road - check out a map of Panem that proposes how today's states coincide with the various districts, albeit a bit of a move around. Is District 12 really the Appalachia? Maybe, given the evidence of name etymology, and the description of race and ethnicity of the residents of District 12.

There is lots of this in this book, LOTS that it makes your mind spin. This could take you down the rabbit hole indeed.

I have mixed feelings about it all. On the one hand, the theorizing and speculation grabbed my attention in some areas. Who doesn't love a good long chat about the many possibilities with the already controversial and hotbed themes that The Hunger Games explores?

On the other hand, I got irked that the so-called "references" for all these theories were other fans (in fact there was one reference that said something with "and sprinkles on top" and I was ... "WHAT?"). In my mind, sure, theorize away. But maybe that's content best left for a Wiki (like this one), a forum, or a blog or some other online venue or even fan magazines.

This book confuses me because it feels like someone went online and did a compilation of fan opinion. Not a bad thing but ... uh - duh ... maybe the author Suzanne Collins (whose interviews are referenced all but a few times) can confirm-deny-shed light on any of these theories? Where better to get the true origins of the book's themes than from the author herself? I am thinking, hey J.K. Rowling revealed Dumbledore's sexuality (do tell, maybe someone wrote a book about that too?)

The bottomline is that this is an "unofficial guide." Keep that in mind. Because these aren't the only theories floating about out there.

Verdict

Fandom is a wonderful thing but I honestly didn't feel a book crammed with Hunger Games fan opinion was warranted. I give this book a meh and suggest that if you're an absolute diehard, sure, knock yourself out... but do yourself the favor and go visit more fan sites while you're at it.

I loved the books on their own and prefer to speculate by my lonesome. I feel that this book rather spoiled things for me by its over-analysis.


Are you a Hunger Games fans? Is this companion book an aye or nay?


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