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REVIEW: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set 64 years before the first Hunger Games book. The Hunger Games is just getting started. This is not the Hunger Games we know now but what it was when it originally started. This is the year of the 10th Hunger Games.

Our main character of this book is Coriolanus Snow also known as later as President Snow. The Snow family have fallen on hard times caused by the first rebellion. Majority of the Snow wealth was in the laboratories that were in District 13 and so with district 13 gone, it means their wealth has gone too. His parents have died and he now lives with his grandmother and his cousin. The three of them manage to conceal the fact that their wealth is gone by keeping up with the façade that they have the wealth and belong in the capitol.

When the 10th Hunger Games is announced, it is also announced that the school he attends will select students who will serve as mentors for the tributes. He of course applies and gets selected. He hopes that this will eventually help him get back the Snow fortune. The game makers assign him the girl tribute of district 12, Lucy Gray. He considers her to be the worst candidate but soon finds himself liking her feistiness and spirit and shapes her into the candidate that will win the 10th hunger games. They eventually form a bond of friendship despite the circumstances. However, Snow is always self-absorbed so Lucy Gray better watch her back.

Whilst in class one day, talking about the hunger games, Dr. Gaul takes an interest in him and starts to mentor him with giving him assignments to do with the hunger games. Essentially this Hunger Games was a thought project for Coriolanus about what he would do if he was in charge. Dr. Gaul takes inspiration from what he says and decides that he has some good ideas and to implement them, including the sponsorship of the tributes which would then give them water and food etc. in the arena itself. Lucy Gray eventually wins but we find out that Snow has cheated but in order to keep this a secret, he must join the peacekeepers.

The peacekeepers assign him to district 12, where Lucy Gray lives. They find each other again and begin a budding romance. Things quickly turn to chaos in district 12 when his friend, Sejanus Plinth is aiding the rebels. He informs the capitol of this betrayal but finds himself in trouble himself as he shot Mayfair Lipp, the mayor’s daughter. He and Lucy Gray hatch a plan to run away together but Lucy realises he is still loyal to the capitol despite their romance and decides to set a trap for him. He is bitten by a snake in the woods and fires into the woods hoping to kill her. He retreats back to district 12 and finds himself travelling away from the district to become an officer when he is side tracked by Dr. Gaul who makes him her protégé. He begins studying at the university and his studying is funded by the Plinth’s who think that he was a great friend of Sejanus’ not knowing that he was the one who betrayed him. His ideas come into fruition in the next hunger games and his legacy lives on in them.

Though many disliked this book, I actually found it enjoyable. I read this on audiobook as at the time, this was the only way I was reading and wanted to get to this book quickly. It’s not a bad book though, it’s just not the hunger games or the prequel that fans really wanted. Though this book does give insight into where Snow comes from, it does not excuse his character being an absolute dick in the end, which is why he is the villain in the main series after all. He did start to redeem himself but like I said before, he is only interested in himself and how he can get on top.

A solid 3 out of 5 stars.


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