What does it mean to be a fan? When do you become more than a fan, and what does being a member of fandom really mean? Fan Phenomena wants to lay the foundation for discussion about these and other questions of fandom behind the hit book and film series The Hunger Games. Fan Phenomena introduces not only a compilation of ideas from academics and writers but also bloggers and dedicated fan fiction writers.
Fan Phenomena: The Hunger Games, written by Nicola Balkind, touches on both the original book series and first two film adaptations. She discusses author Suzanne Collins influence from family, Greek myth to present day war. She introduces us to what Collins wanted to develop as an author reaching a young and often deemed impressionable audience. She believes that Collins is creating that which she asks of her readers in today’s society, “What is real, and what is entertainment?”
Balkind goes on in further articles discussing gender identity, race and media presence within the novels. Main character Katniss Everdeen is dissected and attributed as the hero, the victim, and The Girl on Fire. Other main characters are contrasted against our heroine and defined by their roles, their perceived gender and their race. Most disappointing is the occasional comparison to Bella Swan from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. Despite Katniss having the laurels to stand on her own through Collins writing she is occasionally compartmentalized by those who love her best.
Gently folded between the articles are four fan appreciation interviews with Balkind. These are fans who have taken it upon themselves to develop unofficial guides, podcasts, articles and cuisine. Fans will hungrily devour the interview with Samantha Sisson and Aaron Darcy who created The Hunger Games inspired food on their fan site, Panem Kitchen. They discuss not only their motivation for food inside a dystopian landscape but discuss with Balkind how they began their own journey of The Hunger Games Fandom.
Reader beware, Fan Phenomena: The Hunger Games makes the assumption that you have read the series and watched both books. If you’ve only just begun your fandom with The Hunger Games, make sure to catch up before diving into Nicola Balkind’s academic-style review. The book is available now from Intellect Books, an imprint of University of Chicago Press.