“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 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.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
It has been nearly five years since I read the Hunger Games trilogy. When I heard about this new prequel, I was very excited. I know a lot of people were disappointed to learn that the prequel would be focused on President Snow, when there are so many other popular characters who deserve their own book. While there are definitely characters I wouldn’t mind reading more about, the fact that this book would focus on the origin of the Hunger Games was what intrigued me the most.
I wasn’t planning to read this book so soon, but I bought it on impulse at Target and decided to go ahead and read it.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows Coriolanus Snow’s involvement in the tenth Hunger Games as he works as a mentor for a District 12 tribute.
The only predictable thing is that absolutely nothing goes according to plan.
The Games as we know them from previous books are still being created, so there are little similarities as far as preparation and game rules. In fact, Coriolanus and the other mentors are tasked with coming up with ideas for revamping the Games to make them more popular among the audience so that people will actually watch them.
Coriolanus’s family is struggling financially and he is doing his best to maintain the small amount of dignity that he believes he has left. He is determined the uphold the Snow family name and his competitiveness drives him to succeed in all areas of his life, especially when it comes to mentoring a tribute he hopes will win the games. Is making sure the tribute wins more for her sake or for his? That is unclear, even to Snow himself.
This book was strong for the first two thirds, but the last hundred pages absolutely dragged for me.
If there was any hope for Coriolanus as a person having actually been changed by the Games, and the aftermath, it disappeared as soon as he was summoned back to the Capitol; his privilege brought him right back to where he wanted to be all along.
I was disappointed with the vague ending with Lucy Gray. It felt very rushed and was unsatisfying. For as much as Coriolanus was determined to be with her, I just couldn’t see him leaving her in the way that he did without seeking some kind of closure.
It felt like an easy ending, which I don’t think Lucy Gray deserved.
It was a shock to dive back into the Hunger Games world after so many years. This series is so violent and frankly disturbing. I can’t believe how obsessed I was with the trilogy before, and it just goes to show how much my tastes have changed as I have gotten older.
In today’s world, I don’t think this is a series I would read, due to the subject matter. But there is no getting around that these books are gripping and well-written. I can’t deny the fact that they succeed in getting you to continue reading to find out what happens.
I think that those who read and enjoyed this series will enjoy this prequel. However, I just want to be frank when I say that this book put me in a bad mood. I didn’t come away from it feeling anything other than, did I really just read five hundred pages of that? So, take from that what you will. It was a big undertaking to read this book and even a week later I remain pretty lukewarm about it.
Goodreads rating: Three stars.