Expanding The World of "The Hunger Games":

As someone who read and re-read The Hunger Games series, I found myself reasonably excited when I heard that Suzanne Collins would add another chapter to this world with "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes".

The story follows Coriolanus Snow at the brink of adulthood. He grew up in a war riddled Capitol, lost his parents, and even now still lives in poverty. One way out of this is to be a mentor at the 10th Hunger Games, make sure that he produces a good show so that Snow would win an award that would enable his further education. However, his tribute turns out to be a girl from 12, and while trying to secure his award, he is plunged into a world far more complicated than first assumed. 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Unlike some reviewers, I was not put off by the story being one that follows Snow. After all it is clearly not a redemption arc! Instead, it shows an insight into his weird and twisted mind, and you never feel empathy for Snow because a) you know who he is going to be, and b) the capitol propaganda is so deeply ingrained in his cells that you never forget about it.

As the story progresses, Snow faces a lot of conflicts: on the topic of Capitol versus District, are the games just? Is it fair that the Districts live in great poverty? Anything that might raise the issue that the Capital could ever be wrong.

During those times, the propaganda and personal grudge that Snow holds becomes very visible. He does not save his "friend" Sejanus in order to make sure that no harm comes to him. Instead, his motivation is that he had been ordered to do so and does not want to get into trouble. In fact, Snow cares very little about Sejanus' motives - he even condemns them -, instead he is more aggregated that he might get into trouble by association.

While Sejanus questions the Capitol, Snow never indulges in those questions. Instead he wants to keep a lid on it because it could get them into trouble. When it comes down to it, Snow always chooses the Capitol.

⚠ THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS ⚠

This shows best towards the end, when he wants to run off with Lucy Gray. His motivation is, once again, not that he wants to live a happy life with her outside of the clutches of the Capitol. Instead, he knows that he would get into trouble would someone ever find the gun with which he committed murder. Thus, this is the best solution for him at the moment.

The moment it becomes apparent that the murder weapon is gone, Snow makes a hard U-turn, violently throws their future into the wind, and without regret he returns to the Capitol to embrace his shiny new future. After all, that is what is best for him. 

⚠ PHEW, THAT WAS CLOSE ⚠

On top of showing how deeply ingrained the sense of righteousness of a young Capitol citizen is, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" also expands on the universe. "The Hanging Tree" is seen in the making, and you understand the roots to its smallest details.

However, what the book lacks, is the page turner quality that had been so prominent in the rest of the series. I feel that it focuses more on psychological and social aspects than an action and fast pace. Furthermore, I never really managed to get hooked to the romance - like most people - because I could already see the cracks.

Overall, "The Ballad of Songbirds of Snakes" is an interesting addition to the series that shares a lot of insight, and I would recommend it to well-baked fans of The Hunger Games who want to learn more about the universe and their antagonist.




The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
 published  2020 by Scholastic Press
 seriesThe Hunger Games
 pages    517 
 ISBN13 9781338635171 
 Goodreads:Add to shelf  
  


4 comments :

  1. Were we *supposed* to get hooked on the romance?? ­čś▒ then I missed the memo on that, too. I also agree 100% with the rest of the review. ­čĹî

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    1. Thank you! Guess we all missed the memo on that ­čśů

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  2. I have a lot of thoughts on this book and some of them differ from your thoughts. It's interesting to see how everyone is experiencing the story in such a different way.
    Like you, I was never opposed to Snow as a main character. I think one of the main questions Collins wants her audience to ask themselves is whether they're reading the book for the violence of the Games or for different reasons. In my opinion, those who are still clamoring for a Finnick or Haymitch prequel just want more Hunger Games cruelty (no shade, I live for those parts of all four books too).
    One of my biggest issues with the book was pacing. It's really not a page turner, I totally agree with you on that. Once the Games were over, I put the book away for a week and just couldn't lose myself in the story again until the whole chase in the woods.
    But apart from the things you've mentioned, I had a lot of ??? moments while reading. Some good, some bad. My notes are a mess though, so it'll be a while before I post my thought!

    x Envy

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    1. Tbf, I didn't even think that the games were written in such a page turner style. My favorite bits were the ones in D12.

      But I really look forward to reading your review and thoughts!

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