Book: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Author: Suzanne Collins Genre: Young Adult, Fiction Pages: 624 (Kindle) Published: May 2020 (UK) My Rating: 5/5 Stars Happy Friday everyone! Today's book review is Suzanne Collins' prequel to 'The Hunger Games' trilogy - 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'.
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 outmanoeuvre 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. (Synopsis from Goodreads - Link)
*Note - My review is mostly spoiler-free, it only touches upon what is already mentioned above in the synopsis.
Okay, so after a day and a half of solid reading - I have finished this beauty of a book. Despite the initial reaction to the long and confusing title 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes', it now all makes sense.
This book review is, of course, spoiler free. Which makes it incredibly difficult to write... as I just want to SCREAM from the rooftops - then we can all talk and shout and dance and fangirl/boy at each other. But we can't. So I must remain calm... calm.. *breathe*. Okay, I'm good.
Let's start off with what we already know. Admittedly, I didn't read the synopsis before beginning this book - I wanted to be surprised. But, *mild spoiler* the majority of us know that the book's main focus is on Coriolanus Snow (the future President of Panem), his childhood and experience being a mentor in the Hunger Games to the female tribute of District 12. I'll say no more, promise!
The structure and plot of the book was a little different to what I expected. I knew that there'd be a Hunger Games, although it does come with the twist as it's from the mentor's perspective, rather than the tribute. It was actually quite refreshing to see it from this viewpoint, as it's a different angle that hasn't been explored before. However, without the trackers on the tributes, and the audio and camera quality poor (this being the tenth Hunger Games, long before the one we all know from Katniss' time!) we miss out on some of the action, and storytelling that we're used to. Similar to the previous books, it's not all about the Games and there's some action on the side also *shush*.
Those of you who have read the previous books will have guessed already, yet to those who haven't: There are gruesome/gory moments. It's essentially a book whereby people unwillingly compete in 'The Hunger Games' where 24 people fight to the death, leaving only one standing: The Victor. But for some unknown reason, we all seem to really enjoy it... not sure what that says about us! There is blood, there is gore - there's even a lil' bit of cannibalism(!). So if you're not into that kinda thing, this might not be the book for you.
Next: Characterisation. Well, this one's even more difficult to keep spoiler-free. Argh. So, we meet Coriolanus Snow. Future President of Panem. I know the ending (through previous books), I know the story - so why, why did I become so invested in his childhood?! Collins' writing and exploration of his character is incredible. She makes you feel sorry for him, lost for him, angry at him, sympathise with him and hate him. Desperate to excuse himself of wrongs, desperate to protect those he loves... (Why is this review so hard?!). Naturally, there's more characters than just Snow, but I am trying to keep this spoiler-free.
Annoyingly, despite being short, I think I'll have to leave my review there. It's unavoidable to talk about the spoiler-heavy stuff. So for your own safety, I'll stop. I of course, highly highly recommend this book. It's incredibly gripping and addictive, each chapter ending on a cliff-hanger - impossible to put down. Like I mentioned earlier, it's quite a long book and it's been all I could think (and dream) about over the past day and a 1/2 - and probably will be for the next few days also...
I'd give this book five out of five stars, there's even a little moment that links back to the previous books! As always, here come the trigger warnings: There's quite descriptive moments of blood, gore, torture (ish) and a brief suicide mention. But to be honest, it wasn't too bad, for a Hunger Games book anyway.
Note: I may add to this review in the future, once all the hype has died down and I can expand a little more.
Someone please fangirl with me ;P .
Take care and stay safe,