The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Book Review
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Revisit the dystopian Panem and discover Coriolanus Snow's adolescence and the moments that started him down a road from which he never turned away. Beware, however, as there may be the ...
I didn’t go into The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes with high expectations. And, although I didn’t hate it, I also didn’t enjoy it as much as the original trilogy.
It’s always difficult for me to engage with a book when none of the characters are particularly likable, and this is no exception. Every character has an angle or self-serving motive behind their actions, so it’s hard to root for many of them.
Also, despite the fact that I’d read the original trilogy, the violence was equally as jarring. Perhaps it’s because it’s been a while (a re-read is definitely in order) or simply because the writing is intended to evoke horror at the grotesque endings some characters meet.
The story of Coriolanus Snow is both a villain backstory and a tragedy. Snow was born into the Capitol world, and, as we’ve had a series following a District-born character, the contrast is interesting.
Another aspect that I found intriguing is Snow’s self-awareness of his downward spiral. Throughout the book, he has moments of realization where it dawns on him that seemingly small decisions of self-preservation have led him to this point. He justifies his decisions, however, to the point where he can negate most of the blame.
Additionally, the villains and their characteristics seem closer and closer to Snow’s actions until (and it’s not really a spoiler to say as he’s the villain of THG) he becomes one of them himself.
An unrelated addition I appreciated is the use of song. At times, it feels a little forced or as though its main purpose is to serve as a bridge between THG and its prequel. But on the whole, it made for a unique way of showing motives and backstories.
Aside from everything else I’ve discussed, Collins’s writing feels different in this book, as though it hasn’t necessarily matured but grown with the times. THG fit the late 2000s/early 2010s YA dystopian tone (although it was arguably one of the first to become a sensation in the genre). However, its prequel feels more satirical and dark, almost as though the angsty-ness was toned down in favor of a grimmer read.
Overall, this book may not have been the most enjoyable or fun (it definitely lagged at some points), but I think it was worth the read.
– Several uses each of a–, p–s, h—, and d–n
– God’s name is used in vain several times.
– Several references to prostitution
– It’s implied that Coriolanus once slept with a woman, but doesn’t remember it as he was drunk at the time.
– A couple of off-hand references to homosexuality
If you’ve read the original trilogy, you’re probably familiar with the violence of the Hunger Games. The concept of plunging 24 children into an arena and forcing them to fight to the death certainly isn’t PG. This book doesn’t shy away from blood and guts either. There are plenty of descriptions of wounds, blood, and death.
– Some characters get drunk, and there are several references to drugs.
Corruption, power, love, sacrifice, pride
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