Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Page Count: 520
This book is one that a lot of people waited a long time for because they were big fans of The Hunger Games books back in the day and this is basically a prequel that follows the younger days of President Snow. I’ve also seen a lot of people saying that they were quite disappointed by this, and I think that might be because of all of the nostalgia and the high expectations.
I approached it a little differently because I only read the original trilogy for the first time at the end of 2019, although I re-read them via audio before picking this one up for a video that I was filming with my other half. I like The Hunger Games, but I can also view them with a certain amount of detachment, which probably helped.
I actually quite liked what Collins did here, because it’s basically an attempt to humanise Snow and to show some of his character’s motivations. I thought he was a reasonably complex antagonist even in the original trilogy, and my problem was always with Coin, who was like a cardboard cut-out and easy to predict.
So for me at least, I thought this was a fun, easy read which added a lot of depth to the Hunger Games universe. It also ticked all of the boxes for what I personally look for as a reader, which is to get to know some more about how the world itself actually works. It adds a lot of context to the later stories, and not everyone will want that.
There are also some little nuggets and references that you’d probably only get either if you were a big Hunger Games fan or if you’d recently re-read them, which is what I did. I doubt I would have got quite as much out of it as I did if it hadn’t been for the proximity between the reads, and so I’d suggest doing that.
One thing that I quite liked was that it was written in third person instead of first person, which was something that always bugged me about the earlier books. Sure, it’s nice to see some of the insights into Katniss’s head in the original trilogy, but she could also be infuriating and not much fun to read at times. In fact, I was glad to get away from Katniss, Peta and Gale and to see some new characters, and I was also glad that we got to see some characters from the other side of things.
But if you’ve been thinking of picking it up then I say why not? I’m actually kind of glad that I got to it sooner rather than later, even though it meant paying full price for it and reading it in a hardback, which was kind of uncomfortable. But at least it was pretty, I guess. So yeah, make of that what you will and if you do read it, enjoy it.