My Quick Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had such potential, especially being a spin off of one of the biggest book franchises in recent years, but for me personally, it fell short. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, and felt like it would have been a solid 4/4.5 star read, but then I read the second half, and haven’t been so disappointed by an ending of a novel in a very long time. It’s been a while since I physically threw a book across the room because I was so frustrated! I don’t know whether I would truly recommend this book or not, because the build up was not worth the end result.
Category: YA Dystopian
Age Rating: 13+
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Trigger Warnings: Alcohol, Animal abuse, Animal Death, Body Horror, Cannibalism, Childbirth (with complications), Death (including child and parental), Death by falling, Drug use, Eating disorder, Emesis, Eye removal, Gun violence, Hanging, Heart attack (mentioned), Loss of limbs, Poverty, Prostitution (mentioned), Rabies, Snakes, Starvation (mentioned), Suicide ideation, Torture, Violence.
Representation: Characters of colour, MLM minor character (brief mention), WLW minor character (brief mention).
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, 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.
My review (may continue slight spoilers):
I am somewhat conflicted when it comes to my review for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. On the one hand, I obviously love the world that Suzanne Collins has created, and it was fantastic to be able to relive some of the magic that is the Hunger Games. It was also incredibly interesting to see the beginnings of the Hunger Games, and how its origin. The first half of the book really was fantastic. I found it heartbreaking witnessing the Games from the perspective of a mentor. It definitely added another level previously unseen in the rest of the franchise. And Snow’s character had such depth and intrigue in the beginning of the book. Snow’s villain origin story started out slow as his character development progressed. I loved delving into his conflict and turmoil about the Games, it added a level of depth to his character that has previously been unseen in the original Hunger Games trilogy. There was such potential for a truly poignant and tragic fall of his character, but unfortunately, the resolution fell flat.
The last third of the book really lowered the overall rating of the book for me. The plot goes off on a complete tangent that I felt had no resonance with the previous theme of the book. The story became somewhat unbelievable at times and completely threw me out of the emersion of the world. The execution of Snow’s progression to ‘evil’ felt so rushed and outlandish, that I literally yelled “that makes no sense!” several times whilst reading. Snow’s character had such a complete turn around in literally the last 20 pages, that made reading the previous 400+ pages feel like a complete waste of time. Not once did I think Snow was gradually becoming corrupt, it was such a sudden and dramatic change that left me completely underwhelmed and disappointed to the point where I had to physically put the book down before finishing the last few pages. So here is where my conflict lies.
Conclusion: Yes, I loved the first two thirds of this book. The plot, character development, and world building were all living up to the previous novels. However, the last act left me with such disappointment that I no longer knew how I felt about this book. The Ballad of songbirds and Snakes had such huge potential to be another excellent edition to the ever popular Hunger Games franchise, but unfortunately, for me, fell flat.
Interested in this book?