The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games Companions)

And of course, if there's one thing we feel we can take as truth in these books it's Katniss and her narrative. But we should ask ourselves whether even this should be above suspicion. Like all first-person narrators, Katniss is her own editor with her own biases: she chooses how to present herself and those around her. Katniss has a stake in the story she's telling and what that stake is changes how she portrays the events and her emotional reaction to them.

And that was the Capitol's fatal mistake. Allowing Katniss to become, well, Katniss. Where was the hand of tyranny to crush this early uprising that consisted of a teen girl and her bow? Where was the electricity to keep her out of the woods? Where were the brutal Peacekeepers who should have beaten the spirit out of her?

And when attacked by a Capitol-aligned soldier in District 2, she tells him that fighting in the Capitol's wars makes them all slaves: "It just goes around and around and who wins? Not us. Not the districts. Always the Capitol. But I'm tired of being a piece in their Games." Game theory is not about games. It's about politics and psychology, war and strategy. For Katniss Everdeen, it is life and death, and in the end, everyone in Panem comes to learn that the only way to truly win the game is not to play at all.

Anyone who speaks Latin (gets egged by the populace for being a nerd) must have wondered from the start if Panem was a reference to the Roman people’s reported liking for bread and circuses—for instant gratification that would distract them from the harsher realities of life.

a thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer then the truth

But Gale? Gale is a warrior. He's a rebel. He's a badass. He's a knight.

Firecracker Gale and dandelion Peeta are so different from each other that it's easy to imagine that a girl who would choose Gale is a completely different person than one who would choose Peeta. When people sit around debating who Katniss should choose, maybe what they're really debating actually is her identity - and the romance is just a proxy for that big, hard question about the ever-changing, unaware girl on fire.

I'm not Team Gale or Team Peeta. I'm Team Katniss...the core story in the Hunger Games trilogy has less to do with who Katniss ends up with and more to do with who she is - because sometimes, in books and in life, it's not about the romance.

Sometimes, it's about the girl.

I read The Hunger Games voraciously and was extremely annoyed when interrupted by such inconsequential things as 'Christmas dinner.' (God, Mom, did you not understand Katniss was being pursued by the mutts? You have several children, why does it always have to be about collecting the whole set all the time?)

It seems like everyone I know has very strong feelings about which boy is the best fit for Katniss, but also because the books themselves contain a commentary on the way audiences latch onto romance, even (and maybe especially) when lives are at

It started with blogs; now, through social media, anyone who is active on the internet creates a digital projection of themselves for public consumption. We are all stars, all heroes in our own online productions. What does this do for our authenticity? It destroys it.

Katniss Everdeen can survive her darkness because she understands the same truth that's expressed in that graffiti in Palestine. Her heart is a weapon, and the way to keep fighting against all the horror and cruelty of the world is to wield that weapon. To keep loving.

Katniss isn't the kind of hero we're used to seeing in fiction. She reacts more than she acts, she doesn't want to be a leader, and by the end of Mockingjay, she hasn't come into her own or risen like a phoenix from the ashes for some triumphant moment that gives us a sense of satisfaction with how far our protagonist has come.

She's not a Buffy. She's not a Bella. She limps across the finish line when we're used to seeing heroes racing; she eases into a quiet, steady love instead of falling fast and hard.

Katniss should have the most reasons to hate, having been sent into the arena not once, but twice. But despite everything she's been through, she's still capable of seeing the so-called "enemy" as individuals rather than as a monolithic entity. She remembers that Octavia snuck her a roll rather than see her hungry and that Flavius had to quit during the Quarter Quell because he couldn't stop crying.

like it or not, what we dress in is a direct reflection of who we are personally, socially, and historically.

Most importantly, Mockingjay tells us something difficult, something readers don't necessarily want to her, but that is almost certainly the truth: when you get pushed as far as Katniss is, you are changed in fundamental ways. You can't go home again. War really is hell. Happily Ever After is a lie. That doesn't mean all is hopeless. Katniss isn't destroyed. This book is no simple-minded fantasy; no king is crowned to triumphant fanfare, no gold medals bestowed , and maybe there's not even any real wisdom gained. But life does go on.

Next time you leave the house, think about who might be watching you. Do you pass a traffic camera? Do the shops you go to have security cameras? Is there a camera on board your train or bus? What about in your school? The cafes and restaurants where you eat? Street corners? Subways? And who is on the other side of that camera? A private security guard? The police? The government? How can you tell?

Suzanne Collins could have chosen to give us Coin as president, an example of a continuous pattern, mistakes just waiting to be made again. Instead she gives us a song. And children. And though "they play on a graveyard" (Mockingjay), the important thing is that they are free to play.

The mockingjay trend holds a powerful message of political solidarity. The public tells Kat, "We're behind you. We believe in you. We're ready to follow, and continue what you started.

the object was not to stay alive but to stay human.

There's an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I've been thinking about a lot while writing this essay. In it, Buffy sacrifices her own life to save her sister, and right before she does, she tells her sister that the hardest thing to do in the world is to live - ironic words coming from someone about to kill herself for the greater good. As I'm writing this, I just keep thinking that Katniss never gets to sacrifice herself. She doesn't get the heroic death. She survives - and that leaves her doing the hardest thing in the world: living in it once so many of the ones she loves are gone.

These days, it seems like you can't throw a fish in a bookstore without hitting a high-stakes love triangle--not that I recommend the throwing of fish in bookstores, mind you, as it certainly annoys the booksellers, not to mention the fish...

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves and wiser people so full of doubt.

The world just wants to forget, and as long as Katniss is there, they can't. So she is hidden away where she won't trigger painful memories for these who are trying to build a new world. She doesn't fit into the new narrative, the new stories they will make for themselves. Those stories might include heroic figures like the girl on fire or the Mockingjay, but a broken young woman who finds life almost unbearable? No. The real Katniss won't be part of that story. Her story is different. It is a story of slow healing and small comforts.

What disturbs Katniss most is the psychology behind the weapons- that they are talking about placing booby-trapped explosives near food and water supplies and, even worse, creating two-stage devices that result in greater destruction of life by playing on that most human of emotions: compassion. The first bomb goes off, and then when rescue workers come in to aid the wounded and dying, a secondary device explodes.

Your heart is a weapon the size of your first. Keep fighting. Keep loving. More than bombs, fire, guns or arrows, love is the most powerful weapon in the Hunger Games. It stirs and feeds the rebellion. It saves the doomed. It destroys the bereaved. And it gives even the most devastated survivors a reason to go on.

your heart is a weapon the size of your fist. keep fighting. keep loving