Rebecca’s Pick: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
If you’ve read the Hunger Games then you’re familiar with Coriolanus Snow.
If you haven’t and this is your first foray into the Hunger Games books, then you’ll get to know the boy that eventually becomes the malicious President of Panem.
Coriolanus Snow lives with his grandmother (the Grandma’mm as she’s lovingly known) and his cousin Tigris (yes, the same one) in their penthouse apartment in the Capitol of Panem. They may live in the penthouse, but their lifestyle is anything but rich. He would never let anyone know that, however. The reputation of the name Snow is everything.
The tenth anniversary of the Hunger Games is upon us and the head gamemaker has appointed Coriolanus and his 23 classmates to be mentors to this year’s tributes. Coriolanus is initially disappointed in his female tribute from the coal-mining District 12, but quickly realizes he can use Lucy Gray Baird’s charming personality to his advantage.
The songstress Lucy Gray is a character all her own – similar in some ways to Katniss, but captivatingly unique in others. I found myself easily rooting for her the whole time.
I was, however, torn on the character of Coriolanus. He remained unfailingly vain and arrogant, but he also had enough conscience to question the necessity of the Hunger Games and the inhumane treatment of the tributes. The latter part of his character didn’t coincide with the descriptions of him from the trilogy, so I found myself anticipating the catalyst for Snow’s inevitable transformation into the character he would become.
Other likable and unlikable characters were dotted throughout the story, some being more prominent and memorable than others, as well as mentions of names and places that those who’ve read the Hunger Games would recognize.
Most, if not all, of the chapters ended with just enough of a cliffhanger that kept me reading. For me it wasn’t quite as absorbing as the original Hunger Games books since I felt like, even though I didn’t know exactly what the ending would be like, I knew the approximate place it would have to end up. That did take a little thrill out of it, but I think it was overall a good companion story. While this was ultimately an origin story of Snow, it also described the inception of the Hunger Games and the various elements that make them “entertaining” and that in itself was interesting to learn.