The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

It’s been a while since I read the Hunger Games series, but it came back to me very easily upon starting The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. One thing I didn’t remember, though, was the graphic detail of the events within the games themselves, and there were several times that I had a visceral reaction to the descriptions in this book. This story reads like something of a biography of Coriolanus Snow’s life and how he became the man we all recognize from Katniss’ reality. Fans of the series will appreciate this companion novel and will come to understand more about a character who is more foe than friend. Please see my full review below!


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As a student of the Academy, Coriolanus Snow is prepared for his inevitable role as a mentor for the infamous Hunger Games. He is struggling to prevent others from learning that his family’s wealth has all but evaporated, leaning on his charm and personality to carry him to future success. When he is assigned to the female tribute from district twelve, he watches as his plans go up in smoke. But when he comes to realize his tribute is more than what she seems, the two build an unlikely connection that will define them for the rest of their lives.


This companion novel to the Hunger Games series focuses on the early life of Gamemaker Coriolanus Snow, showing readers how he became the calloused, unfeeling leader from the first books in the series. Some foreshadowing is observable through his actions and beliefs in this story, but he is mostly depicted as an empathetic character who has lost some of the power his family once held. Coriolanus’ transformation is intriguing to observe as he is faced with several challenging decisions that ultimately determine where his loyalties truly lie.


As might be expected, there are gruesome descriptions of events from the Hunger Games themselves as tributes battle to the death for a chance at survival. This is not the primary focus of the narrative, but these scenes are vivid and memorable, enhancing the brutal nature of this event. Overall, the interpersonal relationships and development of characters within the story are the featured elements of the plot, with alliances forming and shifting throughout. Much like in the companion novels, the characters in this story are often questioning what they have always known and are beginning to think for themselves.


Young adult readers who enjoyed the initial Hunger Games trilogy will appreciate being drawn back into the world of Panem through this story. Taking place several years prior to Katniss Everdeen’s arrival in the Games, this book gives readers a chance to observe the seeds that lead up to her later reality. Songs and secrets weave into and around this narrative, echoing the design of the other three novels. Intriguing and engaging, this story is a welcome inclusion to libraries for young adult readers.



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