The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I just finished reading Suzanne Collins’s book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I borrowed it from my daughter, Olivia, who borrowed it from her friend Maddy. But it was a quick read, so I didn’t feel too guilty about extending the loan.

This book is a prequel to the popular Young Adult trilogy: The Hunger Games. It traces the origin story of Coriolanus Snow, who’s an antagonist in the original trilogy but a protagonist in this book. There also seem to be some hints that the other main protagonist in this book — Lucy Gray Baird — has a hand in the origin story for Katniss Everdeen (the hero of the original trilogy).

The story centers around Snow’s struggle to remain among the elite ruling class of the Capitol. Part of this struggle includes serving as a mentor to Baird in her fight to survive as a tribute in the Hunger Games. But that’s really only about half the book. The other half is exposition and resolution. The romance between Snow and Baird serves as a significant subplot throughout the story. However, the way it all ends disappointed me — both as a reader and as someone invested in the characters.

I’d say the first 85 percent of the book was about 85 percent as good as the original trilogy. In other words: pretty good. The last 15 percent of the book, however, was perhaps 15 percent as good as the original trilogy. In other words: pretty bad. The characters acted in ways that were hard to believe. Story-lines were tied up too quickly and too cleanly. I’ve got some theories about what the author was trying to do, but I won’t spoil anything for anyone else. Just hit me up, if you ever want to talk about this book.

All in all, I enjoyed reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, particularly as a summertime recreational read. It probably won’t make it into my Top Ten for the year, but it wasn’t a waste of time either.

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