Book Review


Rating: 3.5 / 5

THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES by Suzanne Collins was the June book pick for my friend Des’ #boozyreaderbookclub and this time I even remembered to get a drink in the picture! I really enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy, so I was cautiously optomistic when I heard a new prequel was on the way and very curious to pick up a copy!

THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES begins with the reaping for the tenth hunger games. As such it is only ten years following the rebellion of the districts and the hunger games are nowhere close to what we know from the original trilogy. Those reaped are gathered into cages and aren’t even being fed before the game. Coriolanus Snow (the future President Snow) lives in the capital. He is stuck in a life of poverty, but has high ambitions. He is assigned as the mentor of Lucy, the female tribute from District 12, an assignment that he views as a personal slight. Still, he sets out to make the games even better and his own tribute the victor. As he gets to know Lucy on a personal level, he begins to have more and more of an investment in her.

Though I had high hopes for this book, they unfortunately fell rather flat for me on a few levels. It was very interesting to learn more about how the capitol and the games came to be the elaborate, showy spectacle seen in Katniss’ time. Elements which still echo in the later games were fun to pick out along the way.

Unfortunately much of this was interesting in more of an academic way as I didn’t feel a very close connection to most of the characters. This may be in part because the narrative is only given in Snow’s perspective and I know the man he will later become, but I think the author really just didn’t give us a lot about the numerous side characters to grab onto. Being in Snow’s head, I expected to feel a bit more of a connection to him, but I really didn’t find his motivations clear most of the time. I did really like Lucy’s character, but only seeing her through Snow’s eyes, I was left with a lot of questions as to what was actually going through her mind.

I completed much of this read via audio and while the narrator is one that I have liked in other instances, I don’t think he was a good fit for this book. His voice for Lucy and for the multiple songs throughout the book really just didn’t deliver the impact I think another narrator might have had. At the least, I would imagine that this is a book that would benefit from at least two narrators given that Lucy plays such a significant role in the story.

I will still want to check out what they do with this story on the big screen when that time comes, even though the book itself fell flat for me personally.

Reading Challenges:

#AroundTheYearin52Books – a book from a genre or sub genre that starts with a letter in your name (dystopian)

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