The Panem Companion
Title: The Panem Companion
Author: V. Arrow
Publisher/Year: Smart Pop, 2012
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
If you’ve read The Girl Who Was On Fire, then you have a pretty good idea of what this book is. The Panem Companion is a series of essays on the popular Hunger Games series. While The Girl Who Was On Fire was a collection written by various YA authors on different topics, The Panem Companion is written by a single author. V. Arrow dives in to explore the depths of Suzanne Collins’ world, analyzing everything from the geography of Panem to gender roles in the series. There’s even a very detailed etymology of every name from the series at the end.
The major flaw of this book is that I feel it tries to work an in-depth analysis around very little substance. Some of the essays felt a little forced, almost like student essays. The book gives very little information on certain topics for good reason — the topics are mentioned in passing, and aren’t crucial to the plot. To write a whole book analyzing these points means making a lot of assumptions and over analyzing a lot of minor plot points.
That being said…it’s also fun. I’ll take the over analyzing with a grain of tasty, tasty salt. The point of this book is to think critically about the series, to ponder some of the hidden points of the plot. To read between Suzanne Collins’ lines (whoa. that sounds like a pick up line). Some of the chapters are better than others, so this would be best enjoyed by reading the sections that interest you. I think any reader could find some of Arrow’s points quite interesting. It may even inspire a re-read of the series.
FINAL GRADE: C Not a life-changer, but definitely a neat read. It does have some flaws. And I did have to force myself to keep reading in some of the less interesting chapters. However, I love what Smart Pop is doing with these types of books that take a deeper look at some of my favorite series (next up is a book about Ender’s Game!).
Required reading: Required for fans of The Hunger Games or The Girl Who Was On Fire. Also required for any teacher who uses The Hunger Games in the classroom — you will probably find some essays/info in here that will help in teaching various aspects of the novel.
Library Recommendations: A definitely buy for both middle school and high school libraries, since kids will definitely want to check this out. Even if they don’t read it like an adult might, they will enjoy the map of Panem. Consider buying a copy for your professional collection if any teachers use the novel in the classroom.
Do you enjoy reading books about books?