The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
“The Hunger Games”, the enormously popular book series (and one of my favorites) turned movie giant touched the world just over a decade ago. Suzanne Collins’ bleak dystopian world is set in Paneam, where the Capitol controls all twelve districts after the end of a gruesome war many years ago. A male and female child from each district are chosen on the day of The Reaping after which all selected tributes are sent to fight each other the death in The Hunger Games- a national event obsevered by all in Paneam. You may remember that Katniss Everdeen volunteered to be a tribute after her sister Primrose was selected. President Snow, the main antagonist in the story, was the minipulative and cruel leader of Paneam. I know I was not the only one who wondered what his back story was. In Suzanne Collin’s newly released novel, we see the world through Snow’s eyes.
In the prequel to the Hunger Games series, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” we find that Presidents Snow’s story was not a what we may have predicted. In the other books of the Hunger Games series we learn some information about what happened in the war that desomated Paneam and caused the Districts to be punished by the Capitol for a seemingly indefinite time. However, this was all seen through the lens of Katniss Everdeen, a member of the poor and lowly district twelve. In this novel, we taken back many decades before Katniss was born, and we are able to see the aftermath of the war through the lens of Coriolanus Snow (who we know to be President Snow in the other books.)
Without spoiling anything, there still much to talk about. Coriolanus Snow is eighteen years of age, and is in his senior year at his academy. His parents are died years before and his remaining family had lost almost all their fortune after the rebellion of the districts. All he had left was his cousin Iris and his Grandma’am. Most of his concern is to keep appearences in order to maintain a good name for his family. Although they barely had enough money for food, they managed to keep their family home and their reputation. I could see early on that it is Coriolanus’ desire to make something of himself and rise to the top- but this seems to be more out of ambition and self-preservation. He desires to be seen and known, but also to care for his cousin, grandmother, and himself. His goal is to be able to attend a top university in the Captiol after he graduates, but they do not have enough money to pay for that education. Therefore, when he gets selected to be a mentor for a tribute in The Hunger Games, it’s his chance to be noticed. If he does well enough and his tribute wins, perhaps he will get a scholarship. However, the odds are set against him when he is given the task to mentor the female tribute of District 12. Her life and his life are in thick of it together, for the fate of Snow lies in the success of this lowly girl’s popularity and success in The Hunger Games.
What I loved about this novel is was Collins’ ability to have the readers root for Coriolanus, although most of us know how he will end up. The evolution of the character was well thought out and very surprising, and there was not a moment where I felt I actually knew what was going to happen. Also, there were so many correlations to the rest of the books, which I felt were great tie-ins. Furthermore, I felt it was intersting how see how different the games, the capitol, and the districts were at the time. I found myself quite shocked to learn how the games truly began, and why they were in fact called “The Hunger Games.”
I would give this novel a nine out of ten if I were to rate it only because I feel there were a few questions I was left with unanswered. I am not sure if Suzanne Collins is planing on writing a sequel to this prequel, but I have the feeling she may not. I absolutely recommend this book to those who already read the rest of Hunger Games series. Perhaps one could make sense of all in this book without reading the others first, but I feel that the significance of much that occurs in the other books can be more appreciated when reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes after the rest of them. If you are haven’t already read the Hunger Games… what are you doing?! I suggest purchasing or borrowing a copy as soon as humanely possible.
I hope this review encourages you to read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, becasue I highly recommend it to all YA book lovers out there. Feel free to share your opinions with me about it too, but be careful not to spoil the story please! Thanks for reading.
The people of our land received a brutal wake-up call.
That failures in freedom slip still through our seams.
Hatred and ignorance still live in some hearts.
Some authorities betray and break us apart.
Some stand up and fight. Others will turn a blind eye.
The hurt, yet emboldened raise their fists in protest.
It’s time contributors of injustice come to confess.
Tears will sting in our eyes and rubber bullets may pelt.
Nothing stops us from raising our fists and using our voices.
Until the world is equal for all people, regardless of races.
As an African American in the United States, the events of the past week following the tragic death of George Floyd caused me immense sadness, but it did
not cause me surprise. Experiences like these are not new in the black community, but are now just much more visible as technology has advanced. Many people did not know this was a reality, but they have now become aware of the unfortunate and undue consequences of being a certain race. All lives are created equal, but are not treated as such. This needs to change. Regardless of your color, you can do something to be a part of change that the world needs. You can peacefully protest, support black businesses, donate to causes fighting racial injustice, pray, read books by black authors, and use your platform to spread information. I encourage that you educate yourself and share what you learn with your family, as I am. Stand up for what is wrong, and fight for what is just. I hope everyone continues to do all they can to be safe and healthy, but also proceed with caution as you post, share, and protest. Let’s make 2020 the year of change! Spread love!
For me, this is not much of a question. I know that other readers and book lovers would agree that books are more than just asthetically pleasing. But, as I am scroll on social media platforms and the internet, I find that books are often used for this effect. Personally, I find books immensely enjoyable to look at and be around. Books themselves, no matter the age or genre, bring a sort of warmth and soulfullness to a space or image that cannot be replaced by another object. However, using books only for this reason– as some sort of prop– completly defeats the purpose of having books at all. Some people will place books in places in their room, just for the pleasant sight of them, but never pick them up to read them at all.
What a waste this is!
Books are not meant to just sit on bookcases and be gazed at from a distance. They are meant to be taken from shelves, be felt with curious hands which flip through their pages. Books are here to fill our minds with imagination and knowledge, and for us to pass what we learn for generations to come.
I have seen people who do this sort of thing, who keep books only for the view. Perhaps I am just overthinking it, but as a avid reader…it’s almost a little offensive. What are your views on the subject? Let me know in the comments! Have a great day everyone 🙂