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This novel has really divided the bookish community. Some people have absolutely loved it, whereas others have disliked it with fervour. I personally really liked The Hunger Games series so I was excited to have something new from this fictional world!
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)
Published April 19, 2020 by Scholastic Press
Series: The Hunger Games
Data from Goodreads
Summary (Goodreads): MBITION WILL FUEL HIM.
COMPETITION WILL DRIVE HIM.
BUT POWER HAS ITS PRICE.
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 Review: Not A Typical Villain Origin Story
As some of you may know, this book is essentially a prequel to the actual Hunger Games and depicts one year in the live of Coriolanus Snow, when he was just 18 years old. However, it is not really like any villain origin story you might have previously encountered – so leave those expectations at the door!
The Pros: What worked for me
- I liked reading about the origins of the Hunger Games because this is something I was always curious about. Who came up with the idea in the first place? How did they figure out the logistics? This element was quite fascinating to me as it allowed me to see the evolution of these games.
- This book also provides a better understanding of the political and economic situation in Panem and the Capitol, specifically. Seeing Snow as a bitter boy who struggles with poverty was not something I had expected but poverty can definitely be a motivator for success. I actually wanted even more of a background of this!
- At the heart of it, this novel is a character study of Snow. It shows his mentality, and where he came from. Snow never really stops being a villain but now, I knew his thought process better and could see how he could charm people into believing he was good. I’m quite glad that this novel didn’t make Snow a result of his circumstances (like other villain origin stories do); I prefer him to be an inherently bad guy.
- This novel is also more philosophical than I had expected. There were many moments where Snow and other characters questioned the morality of their actions. It was interesting to see their uneasiness and their wavering opinions as the situation progressed.
- There were so many little links to the Hunger Games series, and I LOVED this! Every time I saw one, it made me really happy!
The Cons: What I didn’t like
- I didn’t believe in the romance shown in this novel. Maybe the author intended for it to be unbelievable and bizarre but I felt that this could have been a bit more convincing. I just didn’t sense the connection at any point.
- I was also not a fan of Lucy’s character. She just wasn’t as sly or as calculating as I hoped; all she did was sing, which is a weird talent to have.
- The story can be quite slow at times, with scenes that don’t really add much to the story. However, the end just whizzed by and it was abrupt in comparison, which I didn’t like.
I genuinely enjoyed this novel because it gave me a really great background for the events that led to Snow landing on top (you’ll get this if you’ve read the book) and the socioeconomic climate of the Capitol that spurred the Hunger Games on. I can see why people are so divided over this book but I got through it in one sitting.
If you like character study-type novels and just want to get back into the Hunger Games world, then I think you will enjoy this book. I’m giving it a solid 3/5 stars!