Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins
Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Series: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
A disappointing prequel that adds little to the series.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes tells the story of Coriolanus Snow and the 10th annual Hunger Games (Or the first that resembles the Games that we’re familiar with from the main trilogy).
Unfortunately, despite being a fan of the initial trilogy, I was severely let down by this prequel. Snow is a severely unlikeable character and as such it makes it incredibly difficult to care about a novel told entirely from his POV. The story does its best to paint him in a more sympathetic light, but they are often only surface level troubles, particularly in comparison to others around him.
The story is also very slow. The Hunger Games serve as the highlight, but that’s not saying much, especially considering there are even characters within the story who comment on how boring the Games are. With a severe lack of action the story suffers massively from a complete lack of tension, particularly in the final third of the story where a multitude of chapters feel like little more than filler. Which is peculiar considering everything feels rushed in the final two chapters, where everything is suddenly rushed to a close.
Also, without going to spoilers, there’s a certain aspect of the story that dramatically diminishes parts of the original book. Only to be swept under the rug with a couple of lines of dialogue. Calling into question why this book needed to be written in the first place.
Snow’s character also swings all over the place, at times feeling like it’s a completely different character from chapter to chapter. District 12’s female tribute, Lucy Gray, and one of Snow’s classmates Sejanus are the only glimpses of light in the story. But even they don’t feel like their stories have satisfying arcs or conclusions.
All in all, there are the bare bones of a solid political drama within these pages, but they never go anywhere and are instead filled out with nonsensical action, character developments or plot. The writing from a prose standpoint is obviously strong, as can be expected from Collins. But it’s not enough to save the story for me. Perhaps if it had been independent of the Hunger Games monicker, or written with a different POV in mind, then this story could be rescued.
Final Rating: 5/10