Review of V. Arrow’s ‘The Panem Companion’

7 Comments October 18, 2012 by Filed Under: Featured, Panem

ThePanemCompanion Varrow Review of V. Arrows The Panem Companion I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review a copy of The Panem Companion by V. Arrow (available on sale December 2012 via Smart Pop Books).  This in an extensively researched book; I was surprised to see the lengths the author took in researching details to which I never gave a second thought.  Did you ever wonder what the meaning was behind every single last character’s name?  If so, get this book.  My compliments to V. Arrow in putting forth so many investigative hours to present a book to the public that will bring new depth and meaning to die-hard fans of the series.  It also gave me a renewed respect for Suzanne Collins, who clearly put a lot more thought into particulars than the general public realizes.

This book is definitely for that exact demographic: the intense fans who can’t get enough of The Hunger Games series.  If you do not fall within that group, it can be a bit monotonous in areas.  Knowing, however, that it was written for those who want to know more about the world Katniss lives in, it does a great job illuminating details one might otherwise miss while reading the books simply for entertainment.

I’ll get the bad out of the way first.  At times I felt it was stretching to look for weathered injustices such as racism, sexism, and anti-gay elements in The Hunger Games series.  Obviously there are injustices in the Panem, that is sort of the whole point.  But with anything in life, if one is trying to look for inequality in every corner, a person will probably be able to find it… even if said prejudices are not really there.  For example: the book delves into gender role reversal in an interesting way, yet over-simplifies it.  Is there anyone who really thinks completely in black and white about male and female roles or traits anymore?  Who does not know a man with a few feminine qualities, or likewise, a woman who is good at traditionally “male” skills?

Now the good: I never even thought about some of the fascinating elements that are scrutinized  such as a compelling look at the strong possibility of Peeta and Prim being half-siblings.  (Yeah, I know… say what?!)  Annie Cresta’s character study was also intriguing and well-researched; and of course, the mapping of Panem is something fans will likely adore.  It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the series, and yet in some ways, one of the most underdeveloped.  It also sheds light on our current reality television in a way that most people are not currently aware of.  You may have the general sense that reality TV is “garbage” or a guilty pleasure, but it gives hard information on the contracts that reality stars are required to sign, therefore revealing the darker side of our own current “reality” entertainment.  It makes the reader think twice about what they chose to watch after reading the book.

Overall, it’s an informative and well-researched analysis of the world Collins created, and an exploration into some of the parallels between Panem and our current society.  I give it a strong four out of five stars.

Category: Featured, Panem

  • Cherry

    Thank you for the review, wasn’t sure about buying it but now I deffiantly will :)

  • Ivana Cvetanovic

    This doesn’t look like a book I’d want to buy. Looking for sexism, racism and homophobia in the universe of Panem is silly, the books in fact make it pretty clear that the people of that future world don’t even have the concept of “race”, that gender equality is something that nobody even questions, and most of our gender stereotypes are gone. It’s hard to say anything about the status of homosexuality since it never comes up, but there are in fact many characters that we don’t know for sure if they are heterosexual since we have no info and it never comes up. (For instance, is Cinna straight? gay? bi? asexual? There is no way of knowing. The prep team trio? Caesar Flickerman? Alma Coin? Beetee? Wiress? Brutus? Enobaria? etc.) There is a lot of inequality and injustice in Panem, but they don’t have to have every inequality that exists today. I really like the fact that the books drive home that traditional gender roles/stereotypes and divisions by “race” are in fact very fleeting, socially constructed concepts that can disappear on their own in just a couple of centuries. In the post-apocalyptic world of Panem, nobody probably even remembers that people used to think that there’s such a thing as a white “race” or a black “race” or that they people it’s feminine to be emotionally open and expressive or masculine to be brooding and aggressive.

    The theory about Prim being the baker’s daughter doesn’t make sense and I don’t see what it could possibly be based on. It’s clear beyond doubt that Katniss’ mother was madly in love with Katniss’ father, she chose poverty and life in the Seam and sunk into a crippling depression after his death. There’s also no indication that she ever returned Mr Mellark’s feelings, or that the baker ever expressed any particular interest in Katniss’ younger sister as you’d imagine if she were his daughter. I don’t even know what the basis for that theory is.

    • Cherry

      That’s why you should read the guide. They won’t tell you what it’s based on for free.

      • Ivana Cvetanovic

        I’m not particularly eager to find out. It’s not like they can reveal some info that isn’t in the book already, so I suspect it’s meaningless things like both being blonde (like all of the town in D12) and nice (like lots of people). It’s not like they’re even supposed to look alike, like Gale and Katniss. Heck, you could more easily make a case for those two to be siblings considering their physical similarity, and since Gale is 2 years older it doesn’t require Mr Everdeen to have cheated on his wife despite the two of them being so in love with each other by all accounts. But I’m guessing that theory wouldn’t be so popular for obvious reasons…

    • Heather Leigh

      I have to admit, the theory of Prim and Peeta being related sounded crazy to me at first, but the book made a surprisingly compelling argument (for more reasons than just hair color). That was one of my favorite chapters of the book. It’s not for everyone, no doubt. But it is an interesting read for those interested in those sorts of theories.

  • Wakey

    when do it come to Europa?

  • Sadie

    Don’t even care if some of the connections are a bit of a stretch. I am the demographic, and I want it in a ridiculous way.