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Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (a Hunger…
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Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (a Hunger Games Novel) (edition 2020)

by Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games (Prequel)

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9784215,103 (3.58)16
Untitled Panem Novel will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.
Member:violistpm
Title:Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (a Hunger Games Novel)
Authors:Suzanne Collins
Info:[S.l.] : SCHOLASTIC (US), 2020.
Collections:Browsing collection, Your library
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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
I read this in a day, which I think is a testament to Suzanne Collins' skill as a writer, since I really didn't enjoy it very much! The narrative pulled me along, even as I found the characterizations to be overly simplistic and not believable.

The protagonist is Coriolanus Snow -- President of Panem in Katniss's day, here a striving teenager trying to make a name for himself, terrified of falling to the bottom of Panem's harsh social hierarchy. But he's not yet hardened into the Snow of the original Hunger Games trilogy. We see him at a time where he's figuring out ... not so much what he believes in as what he believes will let him accrue power. He seesaws between pursuing power and imagining what the world could be like if he doesn't ascend to Panem's pinnacle. The problem is that Collins doesn't do a great job of fleshing out his complexity, instead seesawing him between extremes. I found the back and forth confusing, and didn't fully buy the abrupt emotional shift at the end of the book.

On the plus side, it was an absorbing read. There were a lot of details about Katniss's world that are fun to spot. I loved getting to see Tigris when she was young and not nearly as scary and strange as when Katniss met her. And I'm continuing to speculate about exactly how Katniss and Lucy Gray are related. ( )
  sharonstern | Sep 14, 2020 |
I started this book with no knowledge of the contents beyond that it was related to the Hunger Games trilogy. Upon opening it I was surprised and intrigued to find it was about Snow as a teen. For me it went downhill from there. The characters and their relationships felt very unreal, simplistic, and empty from the beginning. I did not enjoy my time reading this book. It did leave me wanting to revisit the other three books to see if I would still enjoy them or if my perspective as a reader has changed over the years. ( )
  munchie13 | Sep 5, 2020 |
When news broke that there was going to be a prequel to Hunger Games, I was all over it. That is until I heard that the prequel was going to feature Coriolanus Snow. Then, my interest waned as I had no desire to read about the story’s villain. Except, I am not one to leave a series without reading all of the books, so this is how I found myself reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.

I had no expectations going into The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. You see, I ignored all prerelease information as well as the synopsis before starting. The only bit of information I knew before opening the cover was the fact that Snow was the main character.

In many ways, because I started the story blind, I enjoyed The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes more than I expected I would. It will shock no one when I say that young Snow is not adult Snow. While I did not feel sympathy for him, I do recognize how traumatic the war between the Capitol and the districts was for him. I also recognize the immense pressure he feels to maintain the family honor and hide his poverty.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Snow evolve into the person we know him to be. Like all good tyrants, Snow does not start out intending to be a despot. In fact, young Snow is naive and desperate to earn prize money so that he can attend University. This makes him simultaneously eager to please and easy to manipulate, which is exactly what happens.

The thing is, for all of Snow’s own experiences with hardship and deprivation, he remains at heart a snob. Even as he witnesses firsthand the poverty and utter lack of anything that the rest of Panem experiences, he fails to see similarities between his and their situations. If anything, his belief in his own superiority becomes more concrete. Once you add a mentor who considers mankind inherently evil, you begin to see not only where his paths diverge but also to understand how he decides upon the path he does.

Panem itself appears largely as it does in the subsequent novels with the exception of the Capitol and the Hunger Games themselves. Ten years after the war, and the Capitol still shows the ravages of that war. Scarcity remains for those without money, as does any property damage from the war, and we only catch glimpses of the crazy decadence the Capitol later becomes.

As for the Games, they are in their tenth iteration and initially look nothing like the Games Katniss and Peeta enter. There is no fancy arena designed specifically for the Games, no sponsorship, no pomp and circumstance for the tributes. In fact, Snow and twenty-three of his classmates are the first mentors, brought in as a way to make the 10th anniversary of the Games different. As part of their mentor duties, they debate ways to make the Games more exciting and mandatory viewing. In their assignments, we see the first inklings of the macabre entertainment the Games later become.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has a strong philosophical bent, reinforced by the epigraphs Ms. Collins includes. As a result, there are no easy solutions to the choices Snow faces. One might even feel empathy for him as he struggles to decide how best to treat humanity at large.

Along the same vein, Snow’s relationship with his assigned tribute remains murky. Much like the Wordsworth ballad Lucy Gray recites, Ms. Collins lets the reader decide what Lucy Gray’s true intentions are. How you see her character will depend on your philosophical beliefs of man and man’s goodness, which makes The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes the perfect prequel to the rest of the Hunger Games trilogy.

All this to say that I actually liked The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I appreciate any author who presents her characters but leaves their “goodness” or “evilness” for the reader to determine. As I said earlier, most people do not start out in life wanting to become a tyrant. One obtains the title through a series of decisions and choices. Such is the case with Coriolanus Snow. ( )
1 vote jmchshannon | Sep 3, 2020 |
  themoonwholistens | Aug 31, 2020 |
RGG: Difficult to make an unappealing character the main character. Long to show the myriad of choices that led to Snow becoming Snow. Combined to make a bit of slog even if Suzanne Collins is a very good writer. Reading Interest: 12-YA.
  rgruberexcel | Aug 30, 2020 |
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Epigraph
"Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762
Dedication
For Norton and Jeanne Juster
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Coriolanus released the fistful of cabbage into the pot of boiling water and swore that one day it would never pass his lips again.
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Untitled Panem Novel will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.

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It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
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