The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Review)



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Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: Science-fiction, dystopian, young-adult

Published: May 19, 2020

Purchase the books: Amazon

Add it to your shelf: Goodreads


The Hunger Games trilogy is one that many of us hold dear. It is one of the franchises that I look back on as being a key contributor to my love of reading and what books could mean to me. The Hunger games was also one of the first examples of a dystopian society I can remember being exposed to and it made me love the idea of it. There is just something so intriguing to me about what happens after humanity falls apart and goes through something devastating, the world of The Hunger Games takes that idea and runs with it in such a way that it almost seems like something that isn’t too far-fetched.

The story follows Coriolanus Snow through his younger years and his involvement with the tenth annual Hunger Games. These Hunger Games are the first to really start the transition into the huge extravaganza we know them to become in the original trilogy. This time period in the world is so interesting to me, because it gives a glimpse of how the Capitol becomes what we know it to be. This is a time where the citizens of the Capitol are still raw and emotional from the war and the rebellion of the districts. We already know about the way The Hunger Games are meant to keep the districts in check and remind them that they are subservient, but the way that the games evolve and the way the Capitol looks at the districts is what drives this story.

It was interesting to see what Snow was like when he was younger. We see that he grew up living a lie and acting like he had money, as his namesake would suggest, but in reality the war tore down the everything the Snow name stood for. He and his grandma and cousin end up scraping by with nothing to their name, but are able to do just enough to keep up appearances. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find some joy in reading about the “hardships” Snow experienced, all the while pushing the games forward and creating actual hardships for the tributes involved. He serves as a mentor in these games, the first time such a thing was introduced, and ends up with a very unique tribute that doesn’t act like anyone he had ever encountered before, Lucy Gray Baird.

Lucy Gray is a colorful character with a love of life that is rare in this world. She is a performer and she lets that show for all to see during the reaping and the time leading up to the games. Even after being carried around in animal cages and left in the monkey enclosure at the zoo, she keeps mostly positive and happy. She is the reason that Snow comes up with the idea of sponsors being able to send in gifts and supplies to the tributes during the games, food and water and the such, he realizes that she isn’t likely to win based on physical attributes, but that she might be able to win with popularity. She’s an interesting character who is the complete opposite of Snow, which makes their attraction to each other that much more compelling. It is easy to see her as the catalyst to the pageantry of what we know The Hunger Games to be.

As the story continued, I continued to draw those parallels between Lucy Gray and Katniss and I could see where the groundwork was laid in the districts to rally around someone like her. Lucy Gray is easily the standout of the book for me, she was such a likable character and I really found myself pulling for her to win in the games, and as a result of how much I liked her I found myself wanting Coriolanus to succeed and be with her, much of the time forgetting about how much of a horrible person he becomes.

It was weird to read about the beginnings of someone who we know becomes a villain and does horrible things, all the while forgetting about it and rooting for him to succeed. I found myself popping back to what I knew of him and feeling conflicted about wanting to see him end up happy with Lucy Gray. Regardless of how we know he ends up, he is an endearing character for the majority of this book and I found myself engrossed in his adventure the entire way through.

When I read prequels to series I love, or even spin-offs in the world, I always love to see the details put into it that add something to the originals. This book is filled with little things that add to the rich history of the world, and even just learning about how the games got to the point they did is intriguing enough for me to be completely engrossed. I would honestly read about each and every year of the games if Suzanne Collins wanted to give that to me. The politics of the games and the hierarchy of society in this world will always hold my attention.

I didn’t know I was waiting for more from this world, but I am happy we got it. After all this time I was really enjoying being back in this world, and I would really like to see more of these looks back at the history of The Hunger Games and how they evolved over time. In all honesty, I would really like this treatment for other franchises as well, it could breath new life into a lot of our old favorites.

I can easily recommend this book as a must-read to anyone who loved the original trilogy. While it was a bit on the nose with some of the references, it adds a depth to the world that makes Snow feel like a more fleshed out villain rather than a figurehead. I can see how some might feel that this was unnecessary or just a way to squeeze a little more out of the Hunger Games name, but I really do believe this book adds value to the world and makes the originals that much better. Now excuse me as I go try to get “The Hanging Tree” out of my head.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read this review! Have you read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes yet? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below or on social media! Check back every Wednesday and Saturday for new posts and sign-up via email to make sure you never miss anything! Have a great day and be safe out there!

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