Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, published by Scholastic. It’s a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy and tells the story of a teenager who would later be known as President Snow.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, 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 outcharm, 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 –
“Well, as they said, it’s not over until the mockingjay sings.”
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was not one of my anticipated releases of 2020, but I still was intrigued about it.
One hour into the book, I was ready to nod off and DNF it.
The story starts during the first Mentor program for the 10th Hunger Games and Coriolanus Snow is assigned to it. If his tribute wins, then he’ll get a scholarship to attend a prestigious university. But, why would he need a scholarship? Because his family went broke after the war and his only hope at securing a future is to mentor a District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray.
Snow’s head is a sad, bad, and altogether boring place to be, as is evident by the narration of Songbirds and Snakes. It’s not only Snow but all of the characters who are one-dimensional and so very uninteresting. I wanted some calculated villainy from Snow, but alas he behaved like an entitled a** throughout the book.
Then, there’s Lucy Gray Baird. A tribute from District 12 whom Snow falls in love with. Yes, you heard that right! The only interesting aspect about her is that she invented the song the Hanging Tree song. I had expected, in vain, that she would surprise us and perhaps poison Snow or anything other than just hiding out in a tree!
The writing was unbelievable, I was left wondering if this is the person who wrote THG? There’s so much telling and not enough showing. What this book lacked was a plot-line that would leave us in goosebumps or characters whose minds would deceive us. We see instead how a bunch of privileged people discuss the merits of war, how can they evolve the public image of the Hunger Games, etc. While I appreciated this viewpoint of corruption and privilege and the ease of these people justifying cruelty for their betterment, the result was underwhelming.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this prequel to anyone, even to The Hunger Games fans. This 500+ book added zero value to the trilogy and wasn’t even a good villain origin story.
Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.
– About the Author –
Since 1991, Suzanne Collins has been busy writing for children’s television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. For preschool viewers, she penned multiple stories for the Emmy-nominated Little Bear and Oswald. She also co-wrote the critically acclaimed Rankin/Bass Christmas special, Santa, Baby! Most recently she was the Head Writer for Scholastic Entertainment’s Clifford’s Puppy Days.
While working on a Kids WB show called Generation O! she met children’s author James Proimos, who talked her into giving children’s books a try.
Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, she was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you’re much more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole and, if you do, you’re not going to find a tea party. What you might find…? Well, that’s the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part series, The Underland Chronicles. Suzanne also has a rhyming picture book illustrated by Mike Lester entitled When Charlie McButton Lost Power.
She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and a pair of feral kittens they adopted from their backyard.
The books she is most successful for in teenage eyes are The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. These books have won several awards, including the GA Peach Award.
You can also find her on Goodreads!
Thank you for reading! Are you a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy? Have you read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? Or, will you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!