Book Reviews, Reading

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (a Hunger Games novel) by Suzanne Collins

Ambition will fuel him. Competition will drive him. But power has its price. It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out-charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

My Thoughts

My husband and I both read the Hunger Games series years ago. Personally, I loved the first book, the other two were OK. I still enjoyed them, just not as much as the first book.

Naturally, when I heard there was a prequel coming out, I knew we had to read it. I mentioned it to my husband and registered to pre-order. When it arrived, I admired the gorgeous cover — I do love that foil green and gold — and held it up to show my hubby. Then we locked eyes. “Who gets to read it first?” I asked. We just looked at each other, waiting for the other to dare to say, “Me.” I broke the silence with, “Do you want to read it together?” We’d never read a novel together. “Sure, we can try that,” he said.

At a chapter a night, it took over our Netflix viewing as we anxiously crawled into bed to find out what happened next. Each chapter leaves an excellent cliff-hanger ending.

Other than hearing it was a prequel taking place about 50 years before Katniss, neither of us knew anything about the story. I had refused to read anything about it. It’s actually 64 years before Katniss, during the 10th Hunger Games. I do that a lot — refuse to read reviews or discover too much about a book (or movie) that I’m highly anticipating because I don’t want anything to taint my discovery of it.

It was a surprise to us that the story was about Coriolanus Snow — President Snow at 18 years of age. And a pleasant surprise it quickly became! WE LOVED THIS BOOK! So well written and a great in-depth character study into how Snow became the cruel leader he was during the time of Katniss.

It’s well-written and was fairly easy to read out loud. The only thing we laughed about was trying to pronounce the names that are popular in Panem. “Just call them ‘Bob’,” my husband would say. LOL. Collins does like her long unusual names. But after a few tries, eventually they could roll off the tongue – whether I pronounced them correctly, I have no idea. Other names I loved the ring, like “Maude Ivory.”

All of the characters were well developed and shone in their individual personalities. The Grandma’am became a favourite as she provided snippets of unintentional comic relief. Snow is a complex character. I marveled at how Collins created a sympathetic protagonist from someone who we’d come to know as a cruel, agenda-filled villain.

Do I have anything negative to say about this book? At times I thought the games should have been more exciting, however, it’s important to show the progression over the years and where they started. As a reader having the opportunity to constantly compare “past” to “future,” it actually became quite a fun aspect of the novel. Seeing the foreshadowing, not only within this novel, but how it related to the “future” trilogy was so well done.

… and that twist ending….

This is an unsolicited review, I purchased this copy through Amazon.

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (May 19 2020)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1338635171

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