Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Wasn’t Quite Harmonious, But Held a Tune!

Well this is an odd one to talk about.

ballads of songbirds and snakesAs many of you will know, this is the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the Hunger Games prequel, focusing on (future evil President) Coriolanus Snow’s role in the tenth Hunger Games. As you can imagine, telling the story from the future baddie’s point of view caused a bit of a stir: would we lose his character in a bid for sympathy? Would this attempt to redeem an irredeemable character? I had my own reservations when I heard about it and was consequently less enthused to pick it up. And the verdict? Pretty mixed if I’m honest.

Despite all the pre-publication controversy, there was no need to fear him being turned into a hero. I read him as a straight-up anti-hero. He’s just as unsympathetic as a protagonist as he was an antagonist… which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Mildly sociopathic and manipulative, he’s the same old Snow we know and hate. As much as it was a bold choice to tell the story from Snow’s perspective, I’m not sure it paid off. No matter what hardship he was facing, I found it impossible to relate or root for him (in fact, I just kept thinking he kinda deserved it).

Still there were parts I really did like- especially how it showed the games being developed. When I heard it was about the tenth hunger games, I had my reservations, because I thought that it would just be a rehash of the games Suzanne Collins had already written about. Not so. At this stage of Panem, with the Capital and Districts very much in the shadow of the civil war, the games (and the concepts behind them) are a work in progress. It’s not just interesting to see Snow play his part, it’s fascinating to see the theories that go into it (not sure it makes a whole lot of sense to have your underclass in a constant state of conflict rather than making them think they’re at peace, but I’ll let that slide, cos I don’t think evil masterminds always come up with the best policies for running a country). I did like that the timeline meant it raised moral questions for the organisers- like the fact that this was the children of rebels rather than rebels themselves. I also liked how it hinted, rather than showed, future developments. The subtler nods to the original made it feel more like its own story. The one part I wasn’t super keen on was how only 2/3 of the book were about the games- it just felt a little jarring when that stopped.

That said, even with the issues I had with the structure, the writing was strong. And I also liked the side characters. Though I wasn’t much taken my Coriolanus or the not-very-fleshed-out Tigress, Lucy Gray had an edge to her and I loved the Grandma’am.

All these elements left me satisfied enough with this Hunger Games prequel, so I’ll feed it:

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana 

Have you read Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

27 thoughts on “Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Wasn’t Quite Harmonious, But Held a Tune!

  1. Hmmm, very interesting! When I heard what or rather who this book would be about, I had not even the slightest inclination of picking it up. I honestly still don’t, because something about prequels just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like them haha but I am glad Snow wasn’t suddenly made into this character we were supposed to sympathise with. I don’t think I would have taken to that well.

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  2. I was also disappointed that only there was such a large part after the games, which sort of felt tagged onto the story. Also, there was not really a point where Snow becomes the man he later is, he is just a manipulator right from the beginning, but I thought there might be a scene like that so I sort of felt like watching Star Wars episode III where you can’t help but watch the minutes/pages tick away while you wonder exactly when it is going to happen…

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  3. I loved the book! I agree with you on Tigris needing more though. But I think Lucy also needed her on POV. I loved her but I think I take a very different view of the character than some people. If Collins wants to write another from Tigris POV and Lucy’s I’d be all over that!

    I also think it was interesting at this point in the games because you really could have seen it go either way. There seemed a desire to stop them in some of his classmates and the people in the city and to see how the other side played out and manipulated certain things was very well done on Collins part I think!

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  4. Definitely agree that it was difficult to feel empathy for Snow, but I loved the side characters. (Question- was Tigris meant to be the same one from the original series? If so, that was a nice little addition.)

    I loved how we got an insight into how the Games were developed, and like you said, the moral questions that raised. It was interesting seeing how not everybody in the Capitol were on board with the idea.

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  5. I have to say that I must have been living under a rock, because I had not even heard of this novel before I ran across your post. Despite some of the flaws you mention for this novel, I’m definitely interested in reading this one😊 Great and objective review as always. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one😃

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  6. Well an all say that it is indeed difficult to relate to Snow. I loved the trilogy but won’t read this one any time soon. I need to feel empathy and love the main character in order to appreciate my read.

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  7. I felt the same way about this book. I was really surprised by Tirgress. I thought they were going to really flesh that character out and they just didn’t? Either way though, Snow remained unlikable which is what I was worried about, so the book had that going for it. I was also very confused by the book (and it was a thick one!) not spending a lot of the time on the actual games! It felt very weird how quickly they were over and that we still had quite a bit of story left to go through.

    Glad you didn’t hate it 🙂

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  8. I haven’t read the Hunger Games yet. 😂 But those of my friends who loved it said that there was not really any need of this book, but it was good. 😅 That this went with the trend of nowadays of revisiting famous works.

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  9. I liked this book a lot, and I agree that one of the most interesting parts was seeing how the games started, and how unsophisticated they were back at the beginning, without all the flash and technology and production that we see in the original books.

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  10. I was interested in this one until I heard that it would be about Snow. And reading your review—thanks, it was a good one!—I’m still not interested. I don’t like unsympathetic protagonists much, so I don’t think I’d enjoy this book much. The start of the hunger games does sound interesting, but not so much from his POV.

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    1. Thank you! I think that makes sense! I was still interested when I heard it was snow, cos I don’t mind reading about an anti hero, but this just… Wasn’t great. Especially if you don’t like unsympathetic heroes. Yeah it’s a pity it was from this pov

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  11. I honestly assumed that this was just a cash grab attempt from the author and, based on what I’ve seen so far, most fans seem to be mildly disappointed by it. I’m glad that it still had some interesting stuff to offer, making it worth it, to some lengths, for fans! Great honest review! 😀

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  12. Omg that title. AMAZING. I can’t read the entire post because I’ve been wanting to stay away from all reviews and see what I think of it myself. I just adore THG so so so much so am a tad scared though have high hopes. Sad you didn’t love it though

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  13. Alright, your discussion on how interesting this was in terms of the development of the Games has finally convinced me that this is worth reading. I don’t expect to love it, but maybe next time I re-read THG series I’ll read this first.

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  14. Finally, a review on this from someone I trust!! In any case, I don’t think I’ve seen as many reviews for this book from the bloggers I follow, so this was exciting for me. I’m excited to pick this up! I don’t think I’ll enjoy/love it as much as I did the originals, but I feel like that’s generally the case for most prequels/late sequels, right?!

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  15. I was definitely disappointed with BoSaS just because it felt like it opted not to dig as deep into the political critiques you get in The Hunger Games series and the very nature of the games. The ending too, gave me whiplash because you know Snow has to end up as President some day so the last part has to be resolved in a way that means he still will end up on that path and it felt unnatural.
    Though, I did like how the games developed (more of that would have been great!) and Collins’ writing is always fab.

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