Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games #0
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Released: May 19th, 2020
Warnings: Starvation, illness, classism, abuse
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the latest novel to come from Suzanne Collins. It’s also a prequel novel for the Hunger Games – her hit series. The odds are in your favor for having already heard a lot of news about it.
Personally, I was excited from the very first moment I heard about it. I know that some fans were concerned with the idea of the novel focusing on Snow. They were concerned that it was going to romanticize him, or otherwise downplay what he had done. I never had that concern. I believed that Collins had a story to tell, and she earned our trust with her original trilogy. Having read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I believe this was the right take on the matter.
The tenth annual Hunger Games is about to begin, and Snow – alongside eleven other classmates – has been pulled into the project. For the Hunger Games aren’t as successful as the creators had hoped. People aren’t watching them, they aren’t remembering properly.
Snow, being the driven character that he is, is determined to turn this into something positive for himself and his family. After all, Snow always lands on top. If he can get his name out there, he can start rebuilding the family name.
“For a moment he laughed, forgetting where they were, how depressing the backdrop. For a moment there was just her smile, the musical cadence of her voice, and the hint of flirtation. Then the world exploded.”
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes brings us back to the world of the Hunger Games. But it is not the world we’ve come to know. No, instead that world is still in the process of being born. This is the tale of how we got to that point.
Holy cow. I knew that this book was going to be intense. Any novel showing us the origin of the Hunger Games would be. More than that, it also told the story from the perspective of a known villain, a fact that was sure to up the intensity even more.
Even so, I could not have predicted how intense certain scenes were. It’s clear that Suzanne Collins has done it again. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is graphic, poignant, and shocking. That she’s able to wrap up a message into the tale makes it all the more impressive.
I think that each reader is going to have their own takeaway with this book. Personally? I saw it as the story of compromise. One can only compromise their morals for so long before they become somebody else.
That’s how I saw the transition in Snow. He started out as a boy desperate to make a name for himself. While he didn’t love the Hunger Games, he was willing to become a part of them in order to further his cause. From there, it was a series of moral sacrifices, all of which led him to becoming the president we know him as.
The origin of the Hunger Games was fascinating. Dark and horrible, of course. But fascinating. You can really see how it developed here – and who had a hand in it all. It was also brilliant to get another chance to see District 12, alongside their tributes.
I don’t want to talk too much about the tributes too much, because of spoilers and all that. I will say that I absolutely adored them both, and the story would not have been the same without their inclusion (for obvious reasons).
Fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will be thrilled with the number of little references Suzanne Collins wove into The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Some of them are larger – like the origin of this and that, while others are subtle hat tips. It was fun to try and pick up on all of them and added another layer to the reading experience.
I am so glad that we were given one more opportunity to read from this world. I truly do not know if there will be any more, but I am content with what has been handed to us. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was everything I had hoped it would be, and so much more.