I'd checked out the Hunger Games cookbook after reading the first two books in the trilogy, and upon first glance, I was excited: the author tied in specific food-related references in the Hunger Games Trilogy at the beginning of each recipe. Some of these connections are rather tenuous at best, and the recipes included here are more "inspired by" than direct translations of foods mentioned. So far, so good.
The book is divided into breakfast, soups, stews, and salads, appetizers, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb and pork, wild game (!), and desserts, along with an index of herbs. The skill level of the recipes is appropriate for older kids and teens, who are likely the target audience given the Hunger Games books. However, the game recipes in particular are an odd inclusion. I can see including one or two for authenticity using game that could conceivably be found at a butcher's or exotic meat store, but including a whole chapter of such delights as wild raccoon, fried squirrel, beaver, tree rat, etc. seemed a bit TOO authentic and more like filler (plus, it made me shudder to think of the consequences of not storing or preparing it properly). In an online interview, I found the following: "When it came to wild game, where the dish called for raccoon or tree rat, Ms Baines did her research and trawling culinary sites and game cooking forums, discovered many solutions." For something specialized like preparing and cooking wild game, I want to know that the cookbook author has more experience than "I looked it up online." There are also many recipes that call for wild plants like Japanese knotweed, yucca stalks, milkweed buds, stinging nettles, etc. Again, kudos for faithfulness to the original premise of foraging for survival, but as a usable cookbook, it limits its appeal.
Both the dishes I tried were complete flops. I decided to try two of the dessert recipes, since that is the area I'm most familiar with. I'm an experienced baker, and I had my doubts upon reading through the recipe for "Thick and Gooey Double Chocolate Banquet Brownies." A POUND of butter (yep, four whole sticks) and 36 ounces of chocolate (not to mention a tablespoon of baking powder) in a 9x13x2 pan (as in singular) seemed like a recipe for disaster. My normal brownie recipe calls for 12 ounces of chocolate, five eggs, and two sticks of butter, and rises to about one inch. I had my doubts as to whether or not to use two pans, as there is one line in the recipe that says "pans," but as the yield said "one pan," I went with that. BIG mistake. The unappealing-looking batter quickly overinflated and ran over the sides of my brownie pan, dripping onto the heating element. Total scratch, and not a cheap one, since I purchased the recommended Guittard chips at $2.79 a bag times three.
For the second recipe, I thought I'd take another chance and try the recipe for Attack of the Chocolate Chunk Muffins. After all, I frequently make muffins, so what could go wrong? Plenty. Again, the yield is WAY off; the recipe says 12 muffins, but it easily could have made fifteen or sixteen (unless you want to throw out the excess batter). The ingredients seemed more in proportion, but seemed to call for a lot of liquid: 2/3 cup milk, plus a teaspoon of extracts and two eggs. Again, I went by the recipe yield and heaped the batter into the pan liners, thinking that the batter looked thick enough to hold its shape during baking. Mistake number two. The muffins flattened out rather than doming, and like the brownies, the batter crept closer to the pan's edge until the tops cracked, leaving raw, runny centers. I ended up throwing out my second batch of expensive batter in two days.
According to the author's bio on the back of the book, she has worked as a professional baker and caterer, but in another online interview, it stated "the eager foodie had no formal training." I've baked from dozens of baking books, and I've never had such bad luck with following recipes as written. I even went online to try and find an errata sheet, but didn't have any luck. Upon closer inspection, there are numerous typos in several recipes, and my own aforementioned experiences lead me to wonder whether this was thoroughly tested before being rushed to market.
I'd like to give the book another chance, so I will likely try additional (non-baking) recipes at some point. If there is an updated edition, I would be willing to give it another shot and update my review.