Happy end of the week! I’ve been meaning to post this review for over a week now but I’ve been on a roll, finishing one book and starting another. It’s good for my reading but not for my writing.
Now this review is a long one so bear with me………
In the early reconstruction years after the war between The Capital and the twelve districts, young Coriolanus Snow has had to watch his family fortune waste away to nothing but the Snow family name. Though difficult, Snow has managed to keep up appearances, successfully fooling everyone into thinking he still has money. With his Academy days almost over, the threat of not being able to afford University tuition threatens to expose the fall of the house of Snow.
While the 10th annual Hunger Games promise to bring something different to the table by having the Academy students mentor the tributes from the districts, for Snow the games offer a chance at personal fame and fortune. But, if Snow is to come out on top his tribute must be the victor, which seems near impossible when he is assigned to the girl tribute from District 12. Snow is certain his tribute assignment is further proof of the Snow name losing its status and influence among the elite families, but after a rather impressionable reaping Snow is certain he can at least get some use out of his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. Will Snow be able to set Lucy Gray up for success and what would winning or losing mean for the two of them as they begin to develop feelings for one another?
I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes(TBOSAS) a few days after the release date back in May.
When the announcement for this book was made, I was super excited about it. Not only did I love the title that was chosen for book but I generally enjoy revisiting the fictional worlds of books I’ve enjoyed.
As more came out about the plot of the book, I know a lot of book content creators jumped off the bandwagon because the plot was set to center around a young Coriolanus Snow.
That didn’t really bother me. I very much enjoyed reading Suzanne Collins‘ writing when I was reading the original Hunger Games trilogy, so I guess you could say that I had an idea of what to expect in terms of quality.
Also, I like the idea of reading about an underdeveloped and struggling Capital as well as the beginnings of the games before they were such a huge thing. Throughout the first book in the trilogy, The Hunger Games, I remember thinking, “how did things get like this, how did a society as a whole come together and agree that a bunch of kids killing each other was entertainment.” This book sort of answers that for me. It also makes so many other connections to the original trilogy, and it was honestly so fun to just be surprised by all of it, I definitely want more!
The book would have been a little bit more enjoyable if Lucy Gray didn’t burst out into song as often as she did. I’m making it sound like she does it every other page, but no, I just didn’t like reading her sing and by like the second song I was over it. And you know, I get it. Music is important to Lucy Gray’s character but there are parts where I just don’t think there is a need for her to sing a whole song.
If the film is really in the works, great! I’d love to hear the songs. It’s the reading through them that I don’t like.
Another issue, is that there are a few parts where the story just seems rushed through. They are essential parts in the plot so I can’t say much about them, but in these parts it’s like Collins just sort of lists off what is happening real fast. It is a drastic change from “showing” to “telling.”
There is more to like than dislike about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
The connections it draws to the original trilogy really works to expand the world these characters live in.
There is also a consistency in Snow’s character that is very unexpected. You see it a lot in storytelling, (shows, movies, books, etc.) where a younger version of a known character is introduced, especially a villain, and the sole purpose is to justify the bad things they’ve done or explain why they have the ideology that they do.
But, Suzanne Collins doesn’t do that. Rather she introduced the idea of Snow as someone who thirsts for power and is very much set in his ways but has no means to exert authority over people. She doesn’t make him good just struggling. Even with his limited control over people, you see every one of his actions laced with selfishness and the intent to manipulate. So even when you feel sorry for him, you don’t like him.
Although Snow is the main character, almost all the other characters that play an important role, are by far way more interesting than he is.
My favorite character is Sejanus Plinth, the only district born student attending the Academy in The Capital. There is just something about seeing his struggle with himself and his position in society, that made me like him. He is an outsider but that never stops him from voicing his opinion about what’s happening or in defying his father who just wants him to assimilate to capital life.
You’ve no right to starve people, to punish them for no reason. No right to take away their life and freedom. Those are things everyone is born with, and they’re not yours for the taking. Winning a war doesn’t give you that right. Having more weapons doesn’t give you that right. Being from The Capital doesn’t give you that right. Nothing does.”Sejanus Plinth pg. 160/ Suzanne Collins
I also feel like Sejanus is the character that I relate to the most. If I was living in this early reconstruction era I would very much share Sejanus ideology about how cruel The Hunger Games are. It is sad that his words were mostly ignored.
In terms of world building the story felt really well rounded. Like even if some of the world building relies on knowledge from the original Hunger Games, it is easy to imagine that this is a completely different moment in this world. In the 10th annual Hunger Games you begin to see the ideas forming and developing into what eventually will be the games that Katniss competes in.
I give The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes 4 out of 5 stars. It is the fourth book I have read by Suzanne Collins. While it does NOT beat the original Hunger Games book, it is my favorite book for this year (2020). I’ve been doing a lot of re-reading and didn’t know how much I needed something fresh and new until I finished it.
Also, it was my very first pre-order for any book ever. It came with a really nice sticker that I want to use but also don’t want to put on anything because then it has to stay there.
I would recommend this book to just about everyone. As a fan of the Hunger Games, I think other fans would like it too. It’s a great prequel.