The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel to The Hunger Games series. Suzanne Collins returns to write the origin story of an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, who finds himself shooting for the stars by mentoring a tribute in the 10th annual Hunger Games. However, the odds are against him; the once-magnificent Snow family has fallen on hard times, and Coriolanus has been assigned the humiliating assignment of the girl tribute from District 12. Coriolanus must be careful with the moves he makes, for one wrong move can reduce his future to ruins. While doing so, Coriolanus Snow must weigh his need to follow orders against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
I’m usually skeptical about prequel books, because I find them to be boring. Not only does the quality of the story and writing regress in most cases, but I find it hard to sit down and read a book when I already know the ultimate end of the story. However, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes proved my doubts wrong and I’m glad it did. Suzanne Collins writes with the same brilliance as she did with the Hunger Games trilogy, and some might say that she exceeds the level she set with the first three books.
The story is slow to start, but it’s necessary because it sets up the characters in the story. Once the book hits the start of the Hunger Games, the story starts to blossom, and the reader will appreciate the setup that Collins had built. Despite his terrible deeds in the Hunger Games, Coriolanus Snow is an amazing protagonist to follow throughout the book. Snow is a mature and intelligent boy who is struggling to find the path that he wants to take, and Collins does an amazing job at convincing us to get behind Snow. The readers don’t form opinions on characters based on their deeds, but rather based on how Snow perceives them. If a character is a good person but is seen negatively by Coriolanus, then the reader will regard them as a bad person. Collins, in my opinion, shines best when she writes about Lucy Gray Baird (Coriolanus’s tribute). I cared so much about this girl, and she might be my favorite character in the Hunger Games universe. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is also littered with symbolism and metaphors and is very emotional at times (especially in the end). Suzanne Collins isn’t anywhere close to Katniss Everdeen in terms of archery skills, but there’s no doubt that she hits a bullseye with this one.