The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, focusing on Coriolanus Snow (i.e. President Snow to-be) as a young, poor, student and mentor in the 10th Hunger Games.
I really enjoyed the backstory of the games and to see how Snow impacted them to evolve the way they did to Katniss’s time, and to get the history as to why the mockingjay became a symbol for the rebellion. It was also interesting to learn more about the consequences of the war and how Snow had to struggle with keeping the façade up and protect his family legacy, while starving in post-war Panem. I also really liked to know more about his cousin Tigris and his grandmother, and I loved Lucy Gray Baird’s character, but I never really felt attached to any of the characters the way I did in the original series. I missed the bravery and honesty of the original characters, and their struggle for the freedom and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the greater good that made the original story so addictive and engaging.
Picking up this book, I was intrigued to know how Suzanne Collins would try to make us sympathize with one of the most evil villains in YA literature and had hoped for something that would shake things up and alter my whole impression of him. But unfortunately that didn’t happen. Even though the book provided Snow’s perspectives and gave more depth to his character, it didn’t really do enough to endear him to me. Already from the start, there was something selfish, manipulative and spineless about him, with his ambitions and his need to always keep up appearances. Also his mentorship and kindness towards Lucy Gray was really just another project for his portfolio and a means to get him the desired university scholarship. And as the book continues, he becomes more and more ruthless, willing to do anything, betray anyone, in his quest for power.
All in all, I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. It was a bit slow and it definitely would have benefited from being shorter. My main problem was the lack of characters I loved and rooted for, which made me not feel as invested in this book as I had hoped for. But it was a good, decent read, and if you loved The Hunger Games, I definitely think you’d find it interesting and worth the time!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Suzanne Collins