Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #0
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Page Length: 540
Age Range: YA
CAWPILE Rating: 6.00/10
Goodreads Synopsis: AMBITION WILL FUEL HIM.
COMPETITION WILL DRIVE HIM.
BUT POWER HAS ITS PRICE.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-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 outcharm, 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.
Let me start off by saying I wasn’t excited about this book when it was announced. I was curious, but I knew I wasn’t going to run out release day and pick it up. I had no interest in Snow – in fact I hated him. I will try my best to not go into spoilers
Here we follow Snow when he is a student mentor in the 10th Hunger Games. Everything is new and nothing like it we are use to in the original Hunger Games Trilogy. We learn a little more about Snow, but personally I believe he’s just a little less self aware of his evilness. That’s basically his story arc, realizing that he wants control and will do anything to get it.
We also learn more about his tribute from District 12, Lucy Grey. Honestly, I would have enjoyed this book more if we had gotten her perspective. She seems to have more complexity and more of a personality than Snow. Whenever she was on the page I was interested and once she left I was hoping to get more.
That’s the other thing about this book – I found most of the time it was dragging. I would get to a point where something would finally happen and then next thing I knew it was back to dragging. The parts, besides Lucy Grey, I found most interesting where the historical parts. Parts where we learned more about the Hunger Games when they originally started. How the games were organized and less tech-centered, how tributes were treated, who all was involved. Really, if this book was release as a “History of the Hunger Games” and just acted like a nonfiction book giving us details of who started it and how it evolved through the ages – I would have been really excited for it. That is what gave this book value to me.
I would love to learn more about Volumnia Gaul, the Head Gamemaker, because honestly she calls to the psychology major in me! She just seems to have so little (if any) human empathy, but comes up with the most interesting (to me) mutations. As for the other characters, I have very little to say on them. Half the time I would forget who they were – and that’s almost because Snow did too. He found everyone so inconsequential that I just lost all connection to anyone that he didn’t end up feeling like he could take advantage of.
I would have been more excited for any other character’s experience in the Hunger Games – but I’m more excited about experiencing things from the tribute’s side, not the mentors. That’s what was one of the reasons I found this book so lackluster. There are periods where NOTHING happens because we don’t see things from the tributes side… lots of waiting.
I love Suzanne Collins’ writing and that was thankfully what kept me going. Had this been almost any other author, I don’t think I would have been able to finish it. In the end, the historical elements were what I enjoyed the most and the most interesting characters were not the main one.