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Hunger Games Tie-In Books: Which are Worth Reading?

Updated on May 14, 2012
Book Store display of The Hunger Games
Book Store display of The Hunger Games | Source

The Hunger Games is the most popular teen book series in the country. But are the tie-in books worth your money?

The Hunger Games! Katniss must fight to the death in the Arena against 23 other teenaged Tributes in this wildly popular dystopian series from Suzanne Collins. The book is one of the best selling books in the country among young people, and the movie boasted one of the highest grossing opening weekends of all time. In an attempt to quell the public thirst for all things Panem, a number of publishers have put out a considerable array of tie-in books that claim to add valuable commentary or insight into the world of the Hunger Games. However, some of these offerings are more effective and useful than others. Here's a guide to some of the books out there about the Hunger Games phenomenon.

Books that offer analysis or commentary about the Hunger Games Novel Series:

The Girl Who Was On Fire by Leah Wilson. - This is a collection of sixteen analytical essays about the Hunger Games series written by prominent authors of books for teenagers. In one essay, Sarah Rees Brennan discusses the elements that make the Hunger Games so successful, while in another Mary Borsellino makes the argument that love, compassion and devotion were the most effective weapons against the Capitol. Other topics include reality TV, fashion, and even one amusing chapter on whether or not the final book was really well done. This is a thought-provoking collection for readers seeking deeper insight into the Hunger Games Series.

The Hunger Games Companion by Lois H. Gresh. - Like The Girl Who Was On Fire , this book is a collection of essays inspired by the Hunger Games series. However, Gresh is the only author for these essays, and the essay topics do not tie into the Hunger Games books quite as seamlessly as Wilson's anthology does. Gresh has used The Hunger Games as a starting point for essays about historical events and literary references that were likely to have inspired aspects of Collin's trilogy, but are not really connected to it all that well. There are long discussions of Brave New World, 1984, and even torture methods that do not really pertain closely to the Hunger Games.

Verdict: The Girl Who Was On Fire is more relevant to The Hunger Games than Gresh's book is.

Books that offer photographs and commentary about the movie:

The Hunger Games Official Movie Companion by Kate Egan. - This is the studio's flagship movie tie-in book, and it shows. Bold two-page spreads of stills from the movie are punctuated by a wealth of information about how the movie was made. The writing of the script, the casting choices, the filming of District 12 during the Reaping, the costumes - all aspects of production are covered in detail with superb full-color photos. There are exclusive interviews and photos you can't find anywhere else. If you want a graphic souvenir of the movie, this is the one to buy.

The Hunger Games Tribute Guide by Emily Seife. - By contrast, this smaller tie-in book focuses strictly on the journey of the movie's 24 tributes, from the Reaping to the Capitol, and then to training and battle in the arena. There is virtually no information about the process of making the movie; this covers only the fictional events in the book, and it is told almost entirely in pictures with only minimal text to identify the Tributes and where they are. One of the most disturbing parts of this comes in the middle section, where each Tribute is presented with his or her own photograph, plus additional information about their home district and their tactics and weapons. Most of the tributes have not been given names and their weapons are unknown; they stare at us, anonymous and defenseless as participants in a game that will know will kill all of them. If the point of this movie-tie-in was to communicate the horror of the situation for the book's minor teenaged characters, they succeeded.

Stars in the Arena: Meet the Hotties of the Hunger Games by Mel Williams. - Here we have movie tie-in material as it might be done by Tiger Beat Magazine. This fan book celebrates the three young actors portraying the three teens in the Hunger Games love triangle: Jennifer Lawrence, (Katniss) Josh Hutcherson, (Peeta) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale.) This is the book that dares to ask the tough, hard-hitting questions: "Is Liam in love with Jen in real life?" (No, probably not.) There are short spreads dedicated to actors playing other characters in the movie, too, but the decision of how much to include for each cast member seems to be determined by the sex appeal of the actor rather than by the importance of the character. There's twice the space dedicated to Glimmer, who is a very pretty teenager, than to Rue, who is younger, much less sexy, but far more important.

The World of the Hunger Games by Kate Egan. - If all you want is picture after picture after picture of the world of the Hunger Games, you might enjoy this small book, which has only very minimal textual information. It's very much like a story book, as spreads with simplistic themes like "Lies" serve merely as a framework for organizing the photos in chronological order.

Verdict: For the best possible combination of information and photographs, I'd suggest The Hunger Games Official Movie Companion as your best bet.

Books with an unusual twist:

The Hunger Pains: A Parody by Harvard Lampoon. - Katniss Neverclean comes from a run-down district that has telemarketing as its primary industry. As she prepares for battle in the arena by winking at the cameras, she ponders also affairs of the heart. Does she love her friend Carol Handsomestein, or Pita Malarkey? This is one of several books out there satirizing the Hunger Games. Read if you dare, but bring a sense of humor. Some of the jabs are brutal!

The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines - OK, who is up for a nice bowl of Katniss' Favorite Lamb Stew or Prim's Basil Wrapped Goat Cheese Balls? This book presents a wide array of recipes that might have been used by the chefs of Panem. Some of the recipes reflect Katniss' life in the poverty-stricken District 12, while others represent the opulent meals enjoyed by the gluttons in the Capitol. There are no photographs at all in this drab book, which makes it hard to know if your meal has turned out correctly. Also, some of the recipes feature such exotic ingredients as squirrel and raccoon, and may be hard to replicate in a real kitchen. Still, some of the less bizarre dishes, such as Capitol Creamy Spinach Fettuccine, do sound delicious.

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    • charlesxavier04 profile image

      charlesxavier04 5 years ago from London

      Thanks for this helpful info.

      Saw the film and enjoyed it, looking forward to further exploring this futuristic, horrible world!

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