Dystopia (Teen)

Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

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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) book cover

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)

by Suzanne Collins

Published April 19, 2020 by Scholastic Press
Series: The Hunger Games
ISBN: 1338635174

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): MBITION WILL FUEL HIM.

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!

10 thoughts on “Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

  1. As someone who was really disappointed when the book was announced, I’m glad that this isn’t the villain origin story that we all were expecting! I still don’t know if I will pick this one up or not, but I like that it went into the history and didn’t try to paint Snow in a positive light. Great review!

    1. I was also disappointed when I first heard about it but when I was actually reading it, I had major nostalgia vibes from it. It is very different from the original story, though, in terms of pacing. There is a lot more of us just hearing Snow’s thoughts – but I really liked that (and a lot of people didn’t!). Do let me know if you decide to pick it up!

  2. I’ve been really opposed to reading this books, just because I don’t want to give such an evil and unaplogetic character that has hurt many others for so long another change I guess. I’m still not entirely sure if I want to read it but your review did clear up that he’s not really being set up as a hero, which is what I was really afraid of. Great review!

    1. Mm, I get where you’re coming from. But any slight chance we get to really feel bad for him is wiped away when you read about his motivations or his next steps. At the end of the day, he still doesn’t deserve our pity. Thanks for reading my review!

  3. interesting review! I normally wouldn’t read the prequel of a series I enjoy a lot just to let it remain as it is but this actually sounds not that bad haha. I’m sorry to hear you did not like the romance in this book, that sucks 🙁

    1. Yes, same! I usually just read the proper series and never any novellas or extra books that get added onto the series. It was surprisingly good, and I was able to separate my experience of The Hunger Games from this book, so I was able to appreciate this book on its own.
      Yeah, the romance was just a bit too out-of-the-blue for me to understand and appreciate – but it was a minor factor in the overall novel.

  4. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this prequel but your review on it was good enough and very descriptive.

    1. It does, doesn’t it? I remember being a bit taken aback with Mockingjay’s ending – but I still enjoyed the series.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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