Friday 29 May 2020

Book Review - Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games (Book 0 - Prequel)
Publisher: Scholastic; 1 edition
Release Date: 19 May 2020
ISBN-13: 978-0702300172

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.

My Review
I am a massive fan of the Hunger Games so when I heard this was coming out I was so excited, I stayed away from all publicity and gossip about the book - I just wanted to get the book and read it without anyone predisposition or conflicting opinions, so I didn't actually know anything about this book or it's content other than it was going to be a prequel story. 
My mum very kindly bought me this for my birthday - and then let me have it 3 months early (my birthday is in August!) but I was desperate to read it so was very thankful. 
I sat down to read it and was immediately a bit confused, it was a book about a Snow! That is a weird decision to make, but I was very intrigued and eager to read on, this could be very interesting indeed. Then I realized it wasn't just about A Snow, but about THE Snow, our very own President Snow, the psychopath who tortures Katniss in the original books. I knew I had to read on to see how he ended up the way he did, my only issue with it, is that Snow is 18 in this book during the 10th Hunger Games, that means that he is 82 years old in Katniss' 74th Hunger Games - I never knew he was that old. It's been a while since I read the books so I don't know if his age is mentioned in them, but I always imagined him to be late 60's, at a stretch early 70's. But to be in his 80's that blew my mind!!! This thought actually interrupted my reading a bit and I had to do some googling, but it's definitely the same person. So I just had to push that thought aside and go with it.
This book introduces us to Snow at 18 years of age, his family has fallen on hard times but they do their best to cover this up. He works hard at school in the hope of winning a scholarship or at least some sort of funding towards college. Coriolanus lives with his gran and cousin - Tigris. Of course we meet Tigris in the Hunger Games and she helps Katniss so it was interesting to see her so close to Snow and how they both grew up.
For the first time the Capitol Academy are changing the way the Hunger Games works, never before have tributes had mentors, so this year, the brightest students will be given a tribute to work with, and the student who gets the winning tribute will receive great admiration and merits towards college applications - Snow is desperate to win, he needs it for his future. He dreams of one day being President, but he needs the best education and brightest colleges to get there, so he is totally dismayed when he is given the tribute from district 12 - and the girl to top it off, a girl named Lucy Gray Baird. He has no hope of winning, the worst of the worst, he is sure the Dean is punishing him, but then he sees her reaping and some hope returns. 
Throughout the book we see how he interacts with his tribute, his fellow classmates and his family. Snow has an air of superiority but also appreciates the fact that he isn't on top at the moment, he takes free food when he can get it and struggles to find clothes that are presentable enough for TV. Below all of this though he does still have the arrogance that we know from the other books. At points throughout this book I found myself almost liking Snow and even maybe feeling for him, at other times I hated him just as much as I always have. It was weird to feel sympathy for someone I know I should dislike, for knowing what he becomes. 
The book is steady paced, I never felt it was too slow, and I think it was very well written. I read it in just two sittings, there is plenty of conflict, description and emotion. I would have liked to have it written from Lucy's perspective, but actually I think it was very effective being told from Snow, and I liked the whole new perspective. I would love to re-read the original books now to see if it affects how I view him as a character.
I actually hope there will be another book to follow on from this as it did leave some questions unanswered. 
Overall I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to any fans of the Hunger Games. 

My Rating

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