Book Review: A Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins

21 August 2020


Hello Readers & Friends,

Today I'm reviewing the highly anticipated prequel to The Hunger Games. I didn't know anything about the book going into it, other than that it's President Snow's story from way back. So naturally, I figured I would be getting an amazing villain origin story a la Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. Sadly, this is not what we got, and I found this book to be a huge disappointment. I rated it 2 stars. I know a lot of people adored it, but it really wasn't for me.

Firstly, the pace was agonisingly slow. This, combined with the fact that there was next to no main character goal or plotline made it painful to pick up. The book is split into three separate parts, before the Hunger Games, during the Hunger Games, and after. Nothing ties any of these three parts together and it's a lot of telling and no showing. 'Snow did this and went here and spoke to this person and then did this and this.' There was no emotion in anything I read, including the romance which was about as steamy as a desert. As a result, I didn't care about any of the characters at all. 

Before the Games we see Snow being assigned as mentor to a girl called Lucy. The entire part is basically just Snow complaining that he's not rich and trying to hide it, and trying to get Lucy to talk to him whilst witnessing the injustices she faces as a tribute. Nothing really happens.

During the Games we see the games play out, with much less drama or emotional investment than the original series because we don't know or care about any of the tributes. Most of them have incredibly boring deaths. Nothing really happens.

After the Games we see Snow in the next stage of his life, in district 12 trying to deal with his rogue friend Sejanus and courting Lucy. Again, nothing really happens.

I don't understand how anyone loves this book when it's so excruciatingly dull. The already too-long word count is made even longer by a million random and repetitive songs, and all of Snow's thoughts are as repetitive as the next. He's a weak, beige character with no real bite and he doesn't go through any sort of character development or progressive arc. Plus, I have no idea how to pronounce the name Corolianus and it was offputting every time I saw it. Between that and his best pal Sejanus, all I saw was 'anus' on the page a hundred times. 

Overall it was just a huge disappointment. I wish she had actually done a proper villain origin or maybe The Hunger Games from a career tribute's point of view.

Waste of time, don't recommend.

Love, C

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