First, I’ll start by saying, I HATE spoilers. Particularly for really recent books, so I’m not really going to do that here. I’m not going to give any plot points away that aren’t already on the back cover blurb but I am going to talk about Coriolanus Snow and how the second part of his name fits him so well. No, not Snow. Anus. Welcome to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Review
AMBITION WILL FUEL HIM.
COMPETITION WILL DRIVE HIM
BUT POWER HAS ITS PRICE.
Coriolanus Snow is a bit of a dickhead, as of course we all already know from The Hunger Games. Everyone was so excited when Suzanne Collins announced there was going to be a prequel. Such joy! BUT, then we learnt the whole book was going to be about Snow. Disappointment!
Thankfully though, my disappointment helped me to really enjoy this book. Going in with lowered expectations is sometimes a blessing. I’ve seen many other reviewers feel really let down by this book, but I don’t.
The Hunger Games Prequel
I enjoyed this book for what it is. A standalone. A prequel. Most prequels are unnecessary and this is no exception. It doesn’t add to The Hunger Games trilogy in any real and significant way. It’s simply a look back and I really enjoyed that it took me back to Panem and The Hunger Games universe.
I’m a huge Hunger Games fan, like many other reviewers but I have learnt not to expect prequels to live up to the rest of the books in a series.
My first impression of this book was that it was big! Ok, so it’s not a very long book but given the subject matter I was expecting something a little shorter. That being said, this book could have been shorter but I was glad it wasn’t because it meant remaining in The Hunger Games world for longer, which I loved.
But, it is certainly slower than the original books by a long shot and the stakes are a lot lower.
- Somewhat because we know where Snow ends up
- Somewhat because we know Snow sucks so we care what happens less
- Somewhat because disappointingly it’s just written that way
One of the things I liked about this book was that it’s still written in the present tense but unlike The Hunger Games, it’s third person point of view. Which I thought was best, given Snow is a disagreeable character. The viewpoint is limited however, like The Hunger Games so it still felt like it was written in a similar way, just without the me, me, me. And believe me, there was enough of that in the book that Suzanne didn’t need to add to it by writing it in first person.
Here’s a quote I love from the book that perfectly sums up Coriolanus Snow.
He knew this would be easier if he wasn’t such an exceptional person. The best and the brightest humanity had to offer.
Snow is a total narcissist, something we all expected. I think the book has an exceptionally wonderful mix of Snow’s character being relatable while also just going too far into selfishness and “control, chaos, contract” (you’ll understand when you read the book), but I’d like to add one more C to the 3 Cs. Corruption.
Though at times I almost found myself liking Snow and for me this was one of the big worries about this book. I don’t want to like Snow. I don’t want to see any of myself in him. But I did. And, I knew – Suzanne being a wonderful storyteller – that I would.
That being said, here are a few more examples where the Snow we all know comes out.
Quotes from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Ma? Was Coriolanus’s place about to be usurped by someone who referred to his mother as “Ma”?
WHAT. A. DICK.
And here we go again:
The District 12 girl? Could there be a bigger slap in the face? District 12, the smallest district, the joke district, with its stunted, joint-swollen kids that always died in the first five minutes, and not only that … but the girl?
You’ll have to forgive me for seeing some of myself in Snow too. He didn’t always have it easy, and while these quotes show Coriolanus’s nature, there’s also a softer side in the book. Which I was both hoping and hoping wouldn’t show up. The best villains are those you can understand, but not too much!
Coriolanus relished the disappointment on Sejanus’s face, but not for long, because that would’ve been petty.
There’s an awful lot of pettiness in this book and Coriolanus is sure to remind you of some of the people in your life that you’re forced to put up with but kinda hate.
But thankfully Snow’s pettiness is contrasted with others good character, while also downplayed in much of the book, with others even more exaggerated pettiness and ill will.
“Who wants to watch a group of children kill each other? Only a vicious, twisted person. Human beings may not be perfect, but we’re better than that.”
While I did see some of myself in Snow, thankfully I saw a lot more of myself in some of the better characters. That being said, Snow faces a lot of tough choices (though I make no excuses).
If the people who were supposed to protect you played so fast and loose with your life … then how did you survive? Not by trusting them, that was for sure. And if you couldn’t trust them, who could you trust? All bets were off.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – The Hunger Games Prequel Review
I’m giving The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes 4 stars.
- 1 star for the wonderful writing prowess of Suzanne Collins
- 1 star for the psychology of Coriolanus Snow
- 1 star for taking me back to Panem
- 1 star for all the extra nods to The Hunger Games
The 5th star I have not given, because the stakes felt a lot lower and there was a lot less urgency in this story compared to each novel in The Hunger Games trilogy.
All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book and if you’re a big fan of The Hunger Games and you’re excited to go back to the world, then you’ll likely enjoy it too. BUT only if you keep in mind that this story is all about Snow and his sociopathic tendencies AND a prequel. NOT another book in the original trilogy story.