Series: The Hunger Games #0
Release Date: 19th May 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Add it: Goodreads
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-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 out charm, 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.
I wasn’t originally going to pick up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as I didn’t really have any interest in President Snow’s backstory, and I thought that without Katniss Everdeen, the Hunger Games wouldn’t be all that interesting. I was correct.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes felt, to me, entirely pointless. I struggled from the beginning to connect with Snow’s younger self. It seems strange to me that Collins chose to write the story from Snow’s point of view, as presumably everyone reading this book will know what he is to become. I read books to connect with the characters, but I couldn’t do that with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes because I simply could not see the two Snows as two different people. I knew who he was.
Even if I hadn’t known what Snow was going to do in the future, I still don’t think he’s a very good character to write about. I didn’t want to be inside his head, as he’s rich and arrogant and entitled. He’s just an awful person, and you see huge glimpses of that while reading from his point of view.
It would have made more sense to me if The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had been written from someone else’s point of view, but still featuring Snow prominently. I would really like to find out what Collins’ reason for writing the book this way was, because to my mind it would have been stronger if we’d have seen Snow from the point of view of someone close to him. Sure, still write about people from the Capitol, but it seems silly to me to write about someone so hated, especially if they’re a complete ass from the start.
I also didn’t like the songs. I’m just putting it out there.
I think I just didn’t care enough about this book to really get into it. Perhaps my experience would have been slightly different if I’d reread the original trilogy first and everything was fresh in my mind. However, I didn’t enjoy reading about the Hunger Games from Snow’s point of view. I cared about what the tributes were going through, not some posh guy who was never in danger in the same way.
I did enjoy the extra backstory about the war and the rebels, and how the Games evolved, however I think all of that information would have been better in some sort of encyclopaedia, or, you know, an actual book about the war.
In my opinion, this book isn’t worth reading unless you’re a die hard fan of the original series. Even then, I’m not sure you’ll love it.