The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes | Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins published 19 May 2020

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-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. 

How was it?

I’m probably not the only who’ll say this but The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is not what I wanted and didn’t become the book I needed. I wanted a book about the 50th Hunger Games, a younger Hamish and what happened after he won.

Collins played up the nostalgia with familiar last names and places of the Hunger Games series. Whether you’ve revisited the books or the movies in anticipation of this book the reminders will gets your mind working. Making connections and assumptions based on those names and the tidbits of new information given by this book.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of this book, it’s about the makings of a reality TV show. Reminiscent of the television show Unreal, it explores the behind the scenes of the version of The Hunger Games as we know it but also the making of one Coriolanus Snow.

Having the story told from Snow’s perspective is an interesting point of view. I remember “The Hunger Games” book, and the commentaries Katniss made about the Capitol, its inhabitants, and the games. Here, the commentaries are more subtle, more gruesome in so many ways. Panem’s blatant disregard for the tributes, which is reminds me of – and is probably inspired by – our own history. The human zoos – with veterinarians and everything – were a thing. In this book they don’t use the word slaves but it’s clear that the tributes and the Districts in general are treated and considered as such.

It becomes a story about the haves and have-nots, the 1% against the 99%, and having the story coming from someone who’s actively wants/needs this game to happen is quite fascinating. It allows you to see how in denial young Snow can be, how he justifies what’s happening around. Collins doesn’t make him – at least I never saw him that way – likable. I did not feel for him and/or hope that he would be better. I just observe how he slithered his way through life.

The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes answers questions you didn’t think to ask, it manages to have many twist and turns, and like the other books in the series it’s a bit of veiled commentary on our society. It was also fun to spot each of the series titles seamlessly worked into the story.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You can get the book here

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