Book Review: Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy: A Literary and Cultural Analysis, Tom Henthorne (2012)

March 6th, 2013 4:43 pm by mad mags

Fresh Insights into THE HUNGER GAMES Trilogy

fiveout of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

An enthusiastic fan of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, I was super-excited to win a copy of Tom Henthorne’s Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy: A Literary and Cultural Analysis through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. When it finally arrived some three months later (seriously, McFarland, why so slow? it’s almost like you’re trying to tease us!), I didn’t waste any time digging in, and devoured it in all of two sittings.

Henthorne prides himself on producing an academic volume that’s accessible to scholars and lay fans alike. Take, for example, this blurb from the back cover: “Analytical rather than evaluative, this work dispenses with extended theoretical discussions, academic jargon and even footnotes.” In this he’s most certainly succeeded: engaging and informative, Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy provides fresh, original insights into The Hunger Games, particularly when it comes to issues of gender, war, reality television, and the series’ literary standing – no small feat when you consider the number of books already written on the topic dwg file download for free.

In fact, this is the fifth THG guide I’ve read in about as many months, the others being the Girl Who Was on Fire, edited by Leah Wilson; Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games, edited by Mary F. Pharr and Leisa A. Clark; Katniss the Cattail by Valerie Estelle Frankel; and V. Arrow’s The Panem Companion – not to mention the many articles I’ve poured over online – and yet I still found myself surprised by many of Henthorne’s observations herunterladen. (Gotta love those aha! moments.)

The book is indeed light on jargon, and the author is careful to provide brief, 101-style introductions to the various academic approaches he employs in his analyses. For example, the chapter on gender begins with a short background on the difference between sex and gender, including the social construction of gender and its political implications.

Depending on the topic of discussion, Henthorne – a professor of English and women’s and gender studies at Pace University – “draws from literary studies, gender studies, history, psychology, and cultural studies as well as social sciences.”

– Chapter One considers whether The Hunger Games qualifies as a literary text, taking into account the series’ genre (a delightfully messy blend of science fiction, dystopia, war stories, YA romance, survivor stories, and Bildungsroman); the structure of the novels (three acts, each with an unresolved ending); the first-person narrative mode (as difficult as it is to maintain consistently); Collins’ use of deictic markers to create a feeling of immediacy; and her use of verbal patterning to augment major ideas and themes herunterladen. This chapter in particular gave me a greater appreciation of the series’ complexity and sophistication.

– Chapter Two – the charmingly titled “The Importance of Being Katniss” – examines issues of sexuality, gender, and identity. Henthorne argues that the Capitol is a patriarchy, and uses gender (among other things) to create divisions between its citizens. This sexism is evident in the Hunger Games: the Career Tributes excepted, the boys usually arrive at the Games better-prepared than their female counterparts due to their gendered socialization. (Peeta, for instance, was afforded the opportunity to practice wrestling in school.) Likewise, the Tributes are all but forced to perform their genders during the pre-Game spectacles; whereas the boys put on an aggressive show, the girls are styled as objects of desire herunterladen. It’s only by operating outside the law that Katniss has acquired the skills needed to survive and triumph. In many cases, Katniss provides a foil to the Capitol’s sexism and heteronormatovity: with her masculine dress and behavior, she subverts gender stereotypes, and in her refusal to choose between Peeta and Gale as romantic partners she rejects the idea that women must subvert themselves to men through marriage.

– In Chapter Three, Henthorne looks at The Hunger Games – as well as Collins’ previous YA series, The Underland Chronicles – as a war story, and one heavily influenced by her father’s experiences in the military. Whereas in The Underland Chronicles, Collins seems to suggest that war is sometimes justified, even moral, her message becomes increasingly anti-war throughout The Hunger Games trilogy die eiskönigin 2 kostenlos downloaden. In District 13’s use of “propos,” we see how the government can use the media to “manufacture consent” for war, and its eroding civil liberties seems to mirror events in post-9/11 America.

– Chapter Four identifies Katniss as a pragmatist: she uses the information at hand to formulate and execute a plan of action, which in turn puts her in a position to require newer and more reliable information and thus attain more satisfactory outcomes. The key, of course, is remaining active rather than passive, something with which Katniss struggles as she’s faced with trauma after trauma. (Though I expected that the chapter on ethics would bore me to tears, I’m happy to report that this wasn’t the case!)

– Chapter Five discusses The Hunger Game’s relationship to modern-day reality television shows for free minecraft texture pack. Considering the attention this topic in particular has received, Henthorne’s ability to keep it new and interesting is admirable. He quotes Graham St. John, who views Survivor as affirming of capitalist values, and notes that the Hunger Games affirm the Capitol’s dominance over the Districts. Through its control of food, weapons, and other resources – including the participants’ very existence – the Games are a show of total and absolute domination; one which doesn’t begin and end with the Games, but is a part of everyday life Panem subnautica daten console daten herunterladen. However, the interactivity of the Games offers an avenue of resistance: viewers can increase a Tribute’s odds of victory (e.g. by sending them gifts), and it’s ultimately the viewers who determine the Games’ meanings (for example, identifying the Mockingjay the symbol of the resistance).

– Chapter Six examines the dystopian aspects of Panem, District 13 included. Because of its first-person narrative structure, we experience life in Panem through Katniss’ eyes: we see what she sees, and feel what she feels. The Hunger Games is personal – and the personal is political. Panem is the story’s “setting rather than its subject” – so, while the reader is introduced to topics such as climate change and environmental collapse, mass media and social control, and the politics of scarcity, we’re forced to process them on an emotional as well as intellectual level microsoft media creation tool.

– Chapter Seven grounds The Hunger Games as a survivor story: in it, Katniss recounts the many traumatic events she and her friends have endured, while assuming an active identity that marks her as a survivor rather than a victim (though at time she vacillates between the two). By the end of Mockingjay, it becomes clear that Katniss will never recover fully, yet she doggedly refuses to give up. By creating a scrapbook of “all the details it would be a crime to forget,” she both remembers and honors her deceased loved ones. But Katniss’ book isn’t just a personal keepsake – it has a greater social significance too. Survivor stories allow a society to address and reconcile with its past ios 11.0 herunterladen.

– Finally, Chapter Eight considers The Hunger Games as a digital text – one open to discussion, modification, and addition by readers. In The Hunger Games, Collins has built a rich world about which only relatively little is known. By reading between the lines – or looking outside the text – fans can move from producer to consumer, building upon the text in myriad ways: slash fiction, alternate universes, fan fiction, and the like.

In addition to the chapters outlined above, Henthorne also includes a brief biography of Suzanne Collins, as well as a Glossary of Characters, a Glossary of Terms, questions for further study, and an extensive bibliography kostenlos russische musik downloaden ohne anmeldung.

Whenever possible, Henthorne centers the discussion on Katniss – which certainly makes sense, since The Hunger Games is Katniss’ story, told from her point of view. However, this narrow focus often excludes other characters entirely: the section on trauma, for instance, neglects to mention Finnick, Peeta, Annie, or Johanna, even though they suffered horrific traumas that Katniss did not (e.g., human trafficking, rape, torture). And through the use of propos, Finnick is given the voice to tell a rather harrowing survivor story of his own.

Likewise, I was disappointed to see that Henthorne mostly avoids the topic of race – even in the discussion questions, which includes a section on the (whitewashed) film adaptation. (Although I suppose the lead question – “Discuss Katniss and her world as they are realized in the film. Is she as you imaged her?” – could be interpreted rather broadly.)

Along with V. Arrow’s The Panem Companion (which I adore), Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy is a must-read for THG fans in search of a readable yet informative guide to the series.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply