Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #0
Blurb: 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 Capitol, 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.
Review: To start off, a quick note. I LOVED The Hunger Games. The books, the movies, everything. As such, I was a bit hesitant to read this new book. Prequels can often be tricky at the best of times and how in the world was I supposed to relate or care about Coriolanus Snow? He’s the bad guy! The villain! No redeeming qualities whatsoever, at least in the original trilogy. Right?
This is not to say that Coryo (his nickname in this book, and much easier to type) is a good person, although he’s not quite yet a bad person. He is extremely ambitious, but he also cares about his family, once a prominent and wealthy family who lost nearly everything in the war. He hates the districts, but he has good reason to – they represent everything he lost, including his parents and any sense of security he had growing up. Does that excuse the horrible things that he ends up doing later in life? No. But it does make you understand how he got there.
It was really interesting to see what the Hunger Games were at this point in time – in this book, the Capitol is hosting the 10th annual Hunger Games, compared to the 74th in the first book. In the prequel, the Hunger Games are not the lavish spectacle that they become. In fact, Coryo and a group of students from his school are tasked with trying to find a way to improve the games. This is the first Games where people from the Capitol can send sponsor gifts, for example. There is no fancy arena with all the technology, as the Capitol is still trying to recover from the war.
Now let’s talk about Coryo’s tribute – Lucy Gray. She is from District 12, but isn’t originally from there. Her people are traveling musicians who just happened to end up in District 12, where she was sent to the reaping and selected for the Games. Lucy is colorful, vibrant, everything that a tribute shouldn’t be, since most of the people in the Capitol think of the District people to barely be human. It’s no wonder that Coryo falls for her.
This book is an excellent companion to The Hunger Games series, which surprised me a little. I didn’t expect it to be this good. It’s Panem the way we had never seen it before and learning how the Hunger Games came to be was actually pretty fascinating. There were a few details that seemed a little too pat for me (Coryo’s immediate distaste for mockingjays, for example), but the rest of the story outshined any complaints I had. It was fun to be back in this world again.
GoodReads rating: 5 stars!
Categories: Books I've Read