The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
As a prequel to the events of The Hunger Games series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the character of Coriolanus Snow during the tenth Hunger Games. In this novel, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus struggles through life. Once a powerful and rich family, the Snows lost all money after the war and the obliteration of District 13, the main source of their income. Nearing the end of his studies at the Academy, Coriolanus must find a way for him, his cousin Tigris, and their grandmother, known as Grandma’am, to survive a life of poverty. To continue his studies at the University, Coriolanus must pay for the tuition, which is way more than what the poor family has. His one salvation is prize money. For the first time, the Capitol students will be given the opportunity to mentor a Tribute during the tenth Hunger Games. Depending on their performance, the students will be given the prize. Coriolanus sets this prize money as his goal to lead his family out of poverty.
On the day where each student is given their Tribute, Coriolanus is given the girl from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird. From the beginning, Coriolanus notices that Lucy Gray is different than others. She has a special kind of charm that captivates those around her. From that moment onward, the fates of the two are linked forevermore. Coriolanus must use his wit and charm to not only ensure his own survival, but also the survival of Lucy Gray. Throughout his journey, Coriolanus fights to regain the Snow’s status while unknowingly falling in love.
Coriolanus Snow has lost both his mother and his father, and is living with his Grandma’am and his cousin Tigris. They have struggled to make ends meet since the loss of his father, and as a result they have almost no money to send Coriolanus to university. This is what drives Coriolanus for most of the novel, the idea of getting a prize. With a prize he could afford university, and this provides more than enough motivation. Snow’s father was a soldier, and as a result he is very loyal to the Capital. He is one of the smartest students in his class, with a knack for The Hunger Games.
Lucy Gray Baird is quite a unique character. While she is the tribute from District 12, she is adamant that she is Covey, not District. She has an incredible voice, and she is very kind. These characteristics play well during the games, and quickly allows for her to become a fan favourite. While Snow is motivated by money, Lucy views trust as the most important thing for her.
This was one of the best books I have ever read. It follows smoothly from each section of the book, and I found myself hooked from the very beginning. This novel is full of sudden changes, and I was never sure of what was coming next.
One of the biggest strengths of this book is definitely the plot. The post moves along at quite a quick pace, and is full of such drastic changes that I did not find a single due page throughout the novel. There are high points, low points, and many points in between, but I found myself reassessing my opinion of many characters more than once.
Snow and Lucy are very well written characters, and characters I found myself rooting for them almost instantly. This book is filled with other great characters that are introduced further in, but none compare to the quality of Coriolanus and Lucy.
I found no big weaknesses in this novel, a few instances of awkward dialogue, and a few characters I feel could have been developed deeper, but all in all this is a fantastic novel. Whether you have read all the books in The Hunger Games series, or this is your introduction to Panem, this novel will turn you into a fan of the series. A very easy read that will leave you looking for more, almost impossible to put down, and one I would suggest everyone read.
This book has many strengths but one of the big ones is how it being a prequel and how it ties itself to the Hunger Games books as there are many references to things we know from the books and Easter eggs for things to come but the biggest thing is how it develops Snow’s character and shows how he becomes the man he is in the other books. The way that it shows you the man that he will become and the hints that are there from the start are very interesting. In general the characters are all very complex and entertaining to follow and all of them change by the end of the novel. Snow and Lucy Gray are very different characters but their interactions and how they play off of one another is enjoyable and one can see how they develop a close relationship. This book is also very good at having surprises throughout the novel instead of just one twist in the middle or a twist ending. As a reader it is not easy to predict what is happening and no character is safe.
My only weakness is the ending of the novel is a bit abrupt with the fate of one character left ambiguous and also the beginning of the novel is a bit slow though it picks up pretty quickly.
This is definitely a novel I would recommend as I could not put it down.
The main strength of this novel is how well it ties with the main series as well as develops Coriolanus’ character. Throughout The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Coriolanus is shown to dislike the Hunger Games. However, in the main series, President Snow still conducts the Hunger Games, and his reasoning is shown throughout this novel. Another detail that was explained in the novel is Coriolanus’ hate for the Mockingjay, which is developed in the novel. Another strength besides its ties with the main series is its storytelling and suspense. There was never a dull moment while reading about Coriolanus’ struggle for life.
The only weakness this novel has is its ending, which is strangely abrupt. However, this is only a small weakness.
All in all, this novel was very enjoyable to read. It connected to many points found within the main series, while also developing the character of Coriolanus.
“This site is owned and operated by Austin Daley. Prairiegrownreviews.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Prairiegrownreviews.com also participates in other affiliate programs. This site is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.”
Collins, S. (2020). The ballad of songbirds and snakes. New York: Scholastic Press.