The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games #0)

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
by Suzanne Collins

Young Adult/Dystopian

#0 Hunger Games

439 Pages

Published by Scholastic Press (19th May 2020)

Purchase from | Dymocks | QBD | Fishpond AU* | Booktopia* | Book Depository* | | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Actual rating of 3.75

This story takes place before Katniss Everdeen, before the Hunger Games as WE know them. It begins on the morning of the 10th Annual Hunger Games, and eighteen year old Coriolanus Snow is nervous yet excited for the possibilities that await him; he is to be a mentor in the Hunger Games. House Snow has fallen on hard times, they get by on the bare necessities of food, yet no one knows their plight, they hide it well. If Coriolanus Snow can outcharm and outwit his fellow mentors, he could be the mentor with the winning tribute, which will open up possibilities for his future. When he is saddled with the tribute from District 12, he is humiliated, until he first sees Lucy Gray Baird. She is captivating, charming and makes you feel like you will do anything to see her win. Coriolanus finds himself torn between wanting to break the rules to help his tribute become the winner, and needing to follow them. From the moment they meet, their fates are intertwined, will they make it out alive?

I was super curious about this book, I’ve only read the first Hunger Games story, though I do have the other two waiting on my TBR shelf. I was interested to see how things were, well before Katniss’ time. And I was even more intrigued by what a young Coriolanus Snow would be like.

When we first meet Coriolanus, I found myself wondering how on Earth he turned into the person he became. He seems so caring and empathetic to other’s, even though House Snow’s fall left him feeling ashamed of what they had become. He still tried his hardest to do what was right. I found it so perplexing to read his character this way and I was having a lot of trouble connecting him to the Snow of the Katniss generation. However, as the book moved on, small snippets of the REAL Snow began to emerge and I absolutely adored watching it unfold. To see the character development from the beginning to what he became at the end was masterful and it made me a little giddy.

Lucy Gray was such an interesting character, and she reminded me so much of Katniss. Not because of any notable similarities, but purely because they each became almost the golden child tribute of their respective Hunger Games. They became the people that the public most rooted for to win. Though Lucy Gray did lay it on a lot harder than Katniss, Katniss was reluctant in her charm, where Lucy threw everything she had into it. The relationship between Snow and Lucy was an interesting one, and I felt myself becoming suspicious of it. It was here that we began to see the emergence of the Snow of present. Comments of how Lucy was ‘his’ and ‘belonged to him’ she was ‘his tribute’ made her come across as less of person to Snow and more of a belonging, something to own, and I found my dislike of him returning slowly. Their relationship was a strange one and I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, though it didn’t happen in the way I thought it would. I found it impossible for Lucy to have any actual feelings towards Snow, as they were thrown together through circumstance and let’s face it, Lucy’s circumstances were not good. She did what she had to to survive and I loved that about her character. The last time we see her was confusing. I’m still wondering what actually happened though I feel like Collins deliberately left it up to the readers imagination as to her fate, though I can’t help but be a bit annoyed, I need closure dammit!

The story itself wasn’t as engaging as the Hunger Games (the one book that I’ve read haha) I felt. It moved a lot slower because we were on the outside looking in this time, and not in the middle of the action feeling the fear and the adrenalin of a tribute participating in the Games. I absolutely flew through the first Hunger Games book when I read it because it was just go, go, go constantly, you never knew what crazy, outlandish thing was going to happen next. Where this story moved a lot slower and ended up being Coriolanus lamenting about his lot in life a lot of the time. I will admit, I put it down for a bit but then made a point to read my paperback before going to sleep so that I DON’T leave books just sitting for ages when they’re losing my interest.

While this prequel was slow, I still enjoyed reading it and watch everything slowly unfold. It was nice to take a step back to an earlier Hunger Games so we could see the games before they became what we know them off today. And I did enjoy seeing the origin of Coriolanus Snow and loved watching his character devolve into this egotistical, self absorbed butt munch that we know today. If nothing else, he is an interesting character to get inside the head of.

I am planning on finishing the Hunger Games trilogy sometime this year, and it sparked my need to see what happens in the books (yes, I have seen the movies). If you’re a fan of the Hunger Games and are curious about the origin of Snow and the games themselves, and are curious about seeing the games from the other side, give it a go.

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