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When I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I was introduced to a world that was so different from mine, yet I could see many similarities that were fascinating but also disturbing. I became obsessed with Katniss and Panem; I devoured the books and movies. A group of friends and I went to Walmart at midnight to buy The Hunger Games movie when it first released in stores, then had a watch party until 2 a.m. So when I heard that Collins was writing a prequel, I instantly researched it, read the released excerpt, set a countdown on my phone, and pre-ordered it as soon as I could. May 29, 2020, finally arrived, and I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes almost in one sitting! If you haven’t read it yet, then get ready for some spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Ugh a barely know where to begin! I guess the first major connection to the Hunger Games series is that Tigris and President Snow are related. Wow. Honestly, that was the last connection I could have guessed or predicted. Now I need to know about Tigris’s life and her perspective. That was an amazing bombshell to start off the book with.
Obviously the major connection I was looking for was any kind of thread to Katniss. Obviously we don’t know whether Lucy Gray is related to Katniss or her family, but there are certain similarities that were beautifully written into Lucy’s character. The references to the mockingjay, katniss roots, the old house by the lake, the Seam in District 12, and of course, the singing. I’m so glad we get a glimpse into the origin of some of the songs that Katniss sings. “The Hanging Tree” makes so much more sense now!!
Another thing I really appreciated about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was the different perspective of the war that resulted in the Hunger Games. We never got the chance to think about the war from the Capitol citizens’ point of view. It was devastating for them too. Some recovered more easily than others; there was still trauma and hard times for them. I think that’s important to note because there will always be two sides to every conflict. Wrong or right, everyone suffered.
One of the biggest “bombshell” moments for me came at the very end of the book when we find out the true origin of the Hunger Games. Two teenagers/young adults were given an assignment, and their imaginative and creative minds fantasized about something terrible, but it was turned into reality almost in a snap of a finger. I think that was beautifully written but also serves as a warning of how quickly evil can spread.
I’ve heard rumblings from those who didn’t love the book (trying really hard not to judge…) that they felt like Collins was trying to justify or redeem President Snow’s actions in the Hunger Games trilogy by writing this book about him as a young adult. I disagree because I don’t think she tried to spin the book in his favor. Yes, he was the main character and obviously he would be the spotlight of her writing. She didn’t make him a victim; she made him human. Instead of writing Snow as a one-sided villain like we see in her previous writing, she chose to create a more complex and genuine character. We see in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes the circumstances and choices that turned him into the terrifying President Snow.
I think Collins did an excellent job throughout the book of giving us little clues and threads to the Hunger Games series without overloading us. She gives us just enough to want more. And I DO WANT MORE!! Please, never stop writing books about Panem, Suzanne!!!
I think I better stop writing this review or I’ll be up all night. This post is already long enough as is! I couldn’t help but include my favorite quote from the book:
“Well, as they said, it’s not over until the mockingjay sings.”Suzanne Collins
Have you read Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? I’d love to hear your thoughts and discuss it with you! Anyone else waiting to set a countdown for the movie?
Click here to read more book reviews! Have a safe and blessed week, y’all!