The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)
AMBITION WILL FUEL HIM.COMPETITION WILL DRIVE HIM.BUT POWER HAS ITS PRICE.It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined -- every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0) Details

TitleThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 19th, 2020
PublisherScholastic Press
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fiction, Fantasy

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0) Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    I feel absolutely drained by this book. Because I was such a big fan of The Hunger Games trilogy, I was determined to finish The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, but doing so took a LOT out of me. What a chore this book was! I now understand the disappointed and outraged reviews of others who read it first, but what I don't understand is how those people were still able to blast through this in a day or two. You guys are far tougher readers than I am.I have to confess that I was initially enthusi I feel absolutely drained by this book. Because I was such a big fan of The Hunger Games trilogy, I was determined to finish The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, but doing so took a LOT out of me. What a chore this book was! I now understand the disappointed and outraged reviews of others who read it first, but what I don't understand is how those people were still able to blast through this in a day or two. You guys are far tougher readers than I am.I have to confess that I was initially enthusiastic about this book being told from Coriolanus Snow's perspective. I know it put some people off, but one of the few things I love more than a good villain is a good villain origin story. No, I didn't expect to sympathise with him, but could I understand how he'd gotten so messed up and evil? Well, maybe. But... I don't think it works. For so many reasons, but a major one for me is that this book is so boring. So meandering, unfocused, dry. There's a lack of urgency and emotion. A lack of any connection with the characters outside of Snow, who is so self-serving and self-pitying that I couldn't even have fun hating him. I could not understand what we were reading for. I had no real questions that needed answering. This book added nothing to the Panem universe.And the "romance" was just downright unpleasant.The plot takes us back to the 10th Hunger Games, where Coriolanus Snow is assigned as the mentor to the district 12 candidate, Lucy Gray (whose songs are the one shining light in this novel). Coriolanus sees this as an opportunity to shake himself free of the hardships of the past and improve his social status. Lucy's potential victory becomes deeply-entwined with Coriolanus's own, and their relationship is a discomfiting mix of romantic feelings and him using her to achieve his own means.But, still, while this is unpleasant, I don't think I am half as bothered by it as I am by how utterly dull the story is. I'm not so refined as to be above some trashy drama, but that's the thing: it's not dramatic. It's lifeless and cold. 90% of the plot exists inside Snow's head. He tells us about the supposed hardships he has had to endure, but we never really feel them. And something about his perspective makes every other character he encounters seem dull also. A few others noted that this book picks up at the end, which is possibly the only thing that carried me through. It does, but I can also say it was far too little and far too late for me. I think the only good thing about my lack of connection with this book is that I can safely say I don't even consider this part of the same universe as the original trilogy. I can now go forget about it.Facebook | Instagram
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  • Kai
    January 1, 1970
    *whispers softly*: fuck*whispers louder*: this book releases tomorrow and if I see any of you posting even the mildest spoilers in your status updates you'll have a safe place in hell that looks exactly like the 74th Hunger Games*yawns*: 60% in and I can't make myself care so I'll just finish this some other time...or not
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  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
    January 1, 1970
    So apparently this is about President Snow...“A teen born to privilege but searching for something more, a far cry from the man we know he will become. Here he’s friendly. He’s charming. For now he’s a hero.”Really?
  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    When you patiently wait for this book too long and you find out this book's plot is about: President Snow's early times: When you patiently wait for this book too long and you find out this book's plot is about: President Snow's early times:
  • chai ♡
    January 1, 1970
    hi hello, excuse me as I temporarily switch back to my former occupation as a Hunger Games enthusiast *pulls out all my merch from the closet*
  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    I really really really don't care about Snow's life.
  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    Only last 20 pages of this book managed to stir my interest. So, is this 1 or 2 stars? If I hate read the rest of it? Okay, I'll be generous. 1.5 stars it is, but there is no way I am rounding this up.The problem with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is that it doesn't know what it wants to be until the very, very end. It meanders here and there, bloated, unfocused, wordy, boring, misguided, treading the same water on and on and on, to the point of tedium. Just to get to the climax where Snow Only last 20 pages of this book managed to stir my interest. So, is this 1 or 2 stars? If I hate read the rest of it? Okay, I'll be generous. 1.5 stars it is, but there is no way I am rounding this up.The problem with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is that it doesn't know what it wants to be until the very, very end. It meanders here and there, bloated, unfocused, wordy, boring, misguided, treading the same water on and on and on, to the point of tedium. Just to get to the climax where Snow needs to decide if he wants to be good and poor and in love or bad and successful. I kept waiting for some grand twist or revelation to happen. What I got was a tiny splash of excitement after 500 of uninspired blah.There are failures of every type in this novel. Snow's evolution is convoluted, drawn out, poorly paced, and entirely too much time is spent on lingering on his sob stories of poverty, school demerits and cabbage soup. His inner world is neither explained well nor is it interesting. This is not a successful villain origin tale. You will never convince me that it is. Too many new characters are introduced, but none of them are memorable. There is not one person of Haymitch's caliber, or Cinna’s, or Effie's. There is an attempt to show the dawn and messiness of the early Hunger Games, with all the gore and DYI-horror, but it's diluted by the wrong perspective, weird Capitol apologia and a BIG BAD, super-boring first game maker villain. There is a romance that it totally unbelievable and an incomprehensible joke. I literally spent 99% of this book with this expression on my face. (I wish I were exaggerating.) None of what was happening made any sense, especially the romance (gag). I do believe there is a decent story somewhere in this mess of bloated mediocrity, a story that should have been told by Lucy maybe? But as is, this is a massive failure of execution. The pacing is off, the themes are muddled, there is no passion, there is no urgency, there is no heart, there are no stakes. There is, of course, Lucy who was badly underserved. And her songs (too many?). Two potential positives totally wasted on this travesty of a novel. I am not touching this book ever again, and I am going to try to forget it ever existed. A heartbreaking fiasco. ____________Not sure I liked this excerpt or the idea of redeeming a monster. Still, hope dies last... https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/w...____________Never expected this one to happen...
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  • Mary S. R.
    January 1, 1970
    I have a vital, life-changing question: why does this book have 14,680 ratings when IT'S NOT EVEN OUT YET!?UPDATE: it's out so you guys can finally have an excuse for RATING BOOKS YOU HAVEN'T READ.
  • Cardan Greenbriar
    January 1, 1970
    *me waiting for something meaningful to happen in this book* *me waiting for something meaningful to happen in this book*
  •  Teodora
    January 1, 1970
    I feel an old obsession coming back to life... I feel an old obsession coming back to life...
  • monica kim
    January 1, 1970
    a lot of people are not going to like this book. it’s weirder and maybe a little...goofier? than the original hunger games. it’s also much more philosophical - almost part novel part contemplation on nature vs nurture and the base instincts of humanity. and it is not a villain origin story like you’ve read before. if you’ve come here looking for a story like the joker where you leave sympathetic to the villain and understanding what moment pushed them to being evil? well, you’ll likely be very d a lot of people are not going to like this book. it’s weirder and maybe a little...goofier? than the original hunger games. it’s also much more philosophical - almost part novel part contemplation on nature vs nurture and the base instincts of humanity. and it is not a villain origin story like you’ve read before. if you’ve come here looking for a story like the joker where you leave sympathetic to the villain and understanding what moment pushed them to being evil? well, you’ll likely be very disappointed. but if you, like me, have grown frustrated with the narrative that destructive and horrible white men are just victims of society? you might love this one like i do. honestly, i think with this work suzanne is subverting and critiquing the entire narrative of the “villain origin.” house of cards could be a much better comparison to this novel than any villain origin story you’ve watched or read before.biggest complaint and what kept this from 5 stars for me: the pacing is a little off. about 75% in, the novel seems to lose a lot of it’s bite and just sort of meanders (until the end, which is definitely explosive).watch my reading vlog for the ballad of songbirds and snakes: https://youtu.be/hROVNIlYVWY
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  • ✨ A ✨
    January 1, 1970
    I've been avoiding all theories and predictions until I did my reread of THG. But since this is coming out tomorrow I'd like to leave my own theory here. I think it will be nice to be able to look back and see if it was correct (maybe?) [bear in mind that the only thing I know is that this is about Snow and a district 12 tribute he will be mentoring. I have not read any excerpts bc I like things to be a bit of a surprise and come up with my own crazy predictions]So I think we can all agree that I've been avoiding all theories and predictions until I did my reread of THG. But since this is coming out tomorrow I'd like to leave my own theory here. I think it will be nice to be able to look back and see if it was correct (maybe?) [bear in mind that the only thing I know is that this is about Snow and a district 12 tribute he will be mentoring. I have not read any excerpts bc I like things to be a bit of a surprise and come up with my own crazy predictions]So I think we can all agree that Snow is probably the snake. I mean the amount of times that he gets referred to as a snake in THG trilogy is just too much to ignore. (view spoiler)[My theory about our mysterious tribute is that it could be an ancestor of Madge, the mayors daughter who gave Katniss her mockingjay pin. Madge said the pin belonged to her aunt who (we then find out in Catching Fire) was Maysilee Donner, a tribute during the second Quarter Quell (aka the 50th Hunger Games). The pin has been in the family for a long time. But how long? Could it be from all the way back to the 10th Hunger Games even?OR is this mysterious tribute the other one that is mentioned in book 1? Katniss said that district 12 has only had two victors before and that besides Haymitch the other one died. Could it be her? (hide spoiler)]IDK y'all, maybe it's a bit of a stretch. If you have any theories I'd love to know! Also guys please don't spoil me in the comments. Because of Covid 19 shipping delays, I cant read the book yet 💔___All I'm saying is this book better not try to make me feel sorry for President Snow or I'll riot. Yes, I'm still going to read it and it will be interesting to know more about Snow but I'm tired of authors taking characters we hate and giving them redemption plots. Let me hate them in peace thank you. I guess i'll just have to wait and see. ...Also she could have chosen to write about Haymitch. i feel cheated.___TITLE AND COVER!! AND A YA SNAKE
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  • Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    What a disappointment.GR review to come, or read it early HERE. What a disappointment.GR review to come, or read it early HERE.
  • Raeleen Lemay
    January 1, 1970
    after readingThis book is really interesting less as a villain origin story and more as a reflection on the early days of The Hunger Games. Coriolanus Snow is 18 during the events of this book, and the tenth Games are about to start. Ten years previous, when he and his classmates were 7 or 8 years old, the rebels attacked the Capitol, killing tons of people, causing mass starvation (some people even resorted to cannibalism, yikes), and leaving the city in shambles, both physically and economical after readingThis book is really interesting less as a villain origin story and more as a reflection on the early days of The Hunger Games. Coriolanus Snow is 18 during the events of this book, and the tenth Games are about to start. Ten years previous, when he and his classmates were 7 or 8 years old, the rebels attacked the Capitol, killing tons of people, causing mass starvation (some people even resorted to cannibalism, yikes), and leaving the city in shambles, both physically and economically. It was fascinating to read a book from the perspective of someone who lived through that, especially at such a young age. In this book, you really get to know where Snow came from, rather than what "turned him into a villain", because he was sort of a villain all along. As a young man he was charming, ambitious, and calculating; he was nice to people in order to advance his education/career, and he helped people but only for his own personal gain. He was always a bad person, he just used to hide it better.I thought as a character study, this was really great. However, it got kind of silly when his tribute was introduced. Lucy Gray Baird is a performer, a musician, and she doesn't hold back much throughout the book. She is often found singing, asking for a guitar, or something of the like. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was so unexpected that it kind of caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting this book to be a musical but that's essentially what it was. I think Snow's attraction to her didn't make a ton of sense based on his personality, but that's what much of the book was about. He becomes her mentor in the Games, and he wants to keep her alive so that he can hear her sing? okThe pacing was also very confusing in this book. It is in no way a fast-paced thrill ride like the original trilogy, and that's fine because I honestly wasn't expecting that from this book. However, there were pages upon pages spent on unnecessary events, and very few spent on the high stakes action scenes that did appear.All in all, I think it's definitely a book worth reading, especially if you're a big fan of the trilogy, because it does give some background to Panem as well as Coriolanus Snow. I wish there had been MORE background on Panem and how it came to be, but I guess it's always possible that she'll write more books. I ended up enjoying Lucy and her songs by the end of the book, and I can definitely imagine this as a movie. Also, not gonna lie, I already want to re-read this! I feel like knowing what's coming might help me enjoy the ride a bit more upon a second reading.(also, knowing the meaning behind the title makes me hate it a bit less. and i still hate the rings on the cover but the rest is pretty solid ok bye)pre-release reviewstill excited for this but dang that's a bad cover/title
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  • Nataliya
    January 1, 1970
    For all of their faults, The Hunger Games books a decade ago became a pop culture phenomenon. The brutal premise in a YA book, the surly heroine with a backbone of steel, the motifs of manipulation vs truth, the moral ambiguity, the pain of survival, the lasting impact of trauma — yeah, I loved it shamelessly, warts and all .And then Collins writes a prequel about President Snow. Yeah, *that* Snow. The Emperor Palpatine of that universe (I’m a bit shaky on Star Wars stuff, but I think I got th For all of their faults, The Hunger Games books a decade ago became a pop culture phenomenon. The brutal premise in a YA book, the surly heroine with a backbone of steel, the motifs of manipulation vs truth, the moral ambiguity, the pain of survival, the lasting impact of trauma — yeah, I loved it shamelessly, warts and all .And then Collins writes a prequel about President Snow. Yeah, *that* Snow. The Emperor Palpatine of that universe (I’m a bit shaky on Star Wars stuff, but I think I got that one right). The absolutely abhorrent embodiment of all evil, keen on sending children to death while oppressing the crap out of the country. So why?Is it a villain origin/redemption story? We do tend to like redemption of villains, the origin stories that explain the eventual slide into darkness. Darth Vader. Joker. Severus Snape. Wicked Witch of the West. So is this book here to show us the tragic slide into villainy, the horror of the circumstances and the Games that eats away at you and taints you until there is not much left? Or is this just a case of innate sociopathy, an early glimpse of the soul that thrives on cruelty? I think this book will alienate quite a few of Hunger Games fans. You see, it was easy to root for Katniss pitted against the ridiculous brutality of her world. She spoke to you, the girl who volunteered, the girl who defied her own self-preservation instinct to stand up for what’s right. But The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes makes it impossible to root for its protagonist because he is the ultimate antagonist, because we know what he will become. You don’t root for young Hitler to find love and success, after all.Coriolanus Snow cannot be redeemed. But he can be understood, to a point, and that’s what Collins did well here (or so my sleep-deprived brain after late night bleary-eyed reading believes). I like that Snow is not a born sociopath. He is bright but unlikeable, ambitious, resentful, conceited and very entitled, with capacity for manipulation and ruthlessness. He is slippery like the titular snakes. But he has some humanity in him - capacity for friendship, capacity for love, capacity to care and even a degree of sacrifice. The problem is the choices that he decides to make - the choices fueled by his over-developed self-preservation instinct which is by definition selfish. The problem is that you don’t need to be a born stone-cold tyrant — you can choose to become one when you choose yourself above all, when you make the corrupt system work for you instead of choosing to fight it. He chooses complicity — and that’s what shapes him into what he will become by the time 64 years later when Katniss Everdeen volunteers to become District 12 tribute in the horrific televised spectacle of Hunger Games.Snow decides to remain a predator so that he wouldn’t become prey. “So he added a paragraph about his deep relief on winning the war, and the grim satisfaction of seeing the Capitol’s enemies, who’d treated him so cruelly, who’d cost his family so much, brought to their knees. Hobbled. Impotent. Unable to hurt him anymore. He’d loved the unfamiliar sense of safety that their defeat had brought. The security that could only come with power. The ability to control things. Yes, that was what he’d loved best of all.” This is a story of the formation of a tyrant - but the one who understands what makes others rebel, and that, as we know, makes him even more dangerous. No surprise he is behind the whole concept of Hunger Games as a mandatory sickening voyeristic pageantry spectacle. “We control it,” he said quietly. “If the war’s impossible to end, then we have to control it indefinitely. Just as we do now. With the Peacekeepers occupying the districts, with strict laws, and with reminders of who’s in charge, like the Hunger Games. In any scenario, it’s preferable to have the upper hand, to be the victor rather than the defeated.” It’s not a love story, despite the superficial resemblance to it. Snow wants Lucy, wants to possess her, wants top for her to be his — and wants it only as far as it suits his comfort. Don’t think that it ends up being a desperate turn to villainy after the loss of a loved one — that would be too cheap. “His girl. His. Here in the Capitol, it was a given that Lucy Gray belonged to him, as if she’d had no life before her name was called out at the reaping. Even that sanctimonious Sejanus believed she was something he could trade for. If that wasn’t ownership, what was? With her song, Lucy Gray had repudiated all that by featuring a life that had nothing to do with him, and a great deal to do with someone else. Someone she referred to as “lover,” no less. And while he had no claim on her heart — he barely knew the girl! — he didn’t like the idea of anyone else having it either. Although the song had been a clear success, he felt somehow betrayed by it. Even humiliated.” No, there is no redemption for Coriolanus Snow. There is only understanding which at least for me led to even more repulsion. Because he saw a path that Katniss eventually took — and instead forged his own, the easier one, the one of cruel overcompensation for almost not taking it.——————Yes, I can see how it will alienate some long-standing fans. But I am glad I read it. Even if I couldn’t root for anyone.Now I can reread The Hunger Games trilogy with new eyes, understanding the underpinnings of that horror show better.3.5 stars. “He knew this would be easier if he wasn’t such an exceptional person. The best and the brightest humanity had to offer.”
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  • Merphy Napier
    January 1, 1970
    Here's a link to my spoiler free video review: https://youtu.be/A2iM9AOosw4I mentioned in the review that I'd clarify what I meant by the ending feeling abrupt and convenient.  Here it is:(view spoiler)[ Snow was so sure that Lucy Grey was his gal.  They start to run away together, and then very quickly, he suddenly doesn't like rouging it and his attitude toward her changes abruptly, then conveniently finds exactly what he needs in order to go back to the capital and not be convicted, and - oh. Here's a link to my spoiler free video review: https://youtu.be/A2iM9AOosw4I mentioned in the review that I'd clarify what I meant by the ending feeling abrupt and convenient.  Here it is:(view spoiler)[ Snow was so sure that Lucy Grey was his gal.  They start to run away together, and then very quickly, he suddenly doesn't like rouging it and his attitude toward her changes abruptly, then conveniently finds exactly what he needs in order to go back to the capital and not be convicted, and - oh.  Now he's shooting at her..  Wow.  That turned around fast.  Oh, and now he's back in the capital and has an internship with Dr Gaul... also very convenient.  And fast.  The ending was so so fast.  I felt like I got whiplash from that one eighty.  Oh, and we don't actually know if Lucy Grey is dead.  (hide spoiler)]I think it's pretty clear we'll be getting an announcement for a sequel in a couple months.  I personally didn't really feel Snow's story needed to be told.  I appreciated the extra world building and history this book provides and how cool it is to see the capital and The Games in such an early and unpolished stage.  But I didn't feel getting Snow's backstory actually added anything to the series or his character.  But, I'm feeling pretty confident we're gonna be getting more from him.  I'm happy for those who loved this book, I can see why people would enjoy it.  But I was pretty disappointed. 
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  • ✨ jamieson ✨
    January 1, 1970
    may the odds of getting an arc of this be [and i cannot stress this enough] ever in your favour
  • Mariah
    January 1, 1970
    Listen, I hate President Snow as much as the next person.But SNOW. FUCKING. LANDS. ON. TOP.This is actually brilliant. Like genius. Critical, and scathing and thought provoking.Sprinkled with moments where your jaw just quietly drops in shock and pain but you can't do anything except keep on reading.This book is hypnotic. It had an unputdownable quality I'm still unable to quite put my finger on.Hats off, this is how you prequel.The only reason I took off a star was because of the rushed ending. Listen, I hate President Snow as much as the next person.But SNOW. FUCKING. LANDS. ON. TOP.This is actually brilliant. Like genius. Critical, and scathing and thought provoking.Sprinkled with moments where your jaw just quietly drops in shock and pain but you can't do anything except keep on reading.This book is hypnotic. It had an unputdownable quality I'm still unable to quite put my finger on.Hats off, this is how you prequel.The only reason I took off a star was because of the rushed ending. I would've easily read 200 or 300 pages more if it meant the ending was handled as beautifully as the rest of the book was.
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  • Peyton Reads
    January 1, 1970
    It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it certainly was. If you’re someone who knows the original books super well, then I think you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it. There’s so many references and nods to the original books that made me so excited! I also thought Snow’s perspective was super interesting to be in and it gave us loads of information about the world of Panem. We learned so much in this book! Overall, I super enjoyed it and I flew through it because I simply couldn’t stop It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it certainly was. If you’re someone who knows the original books super well, then I think you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it. There’s so many references and nods to the original books that made me so excited! I also thought Snow’s perspective was super interesting to be in and it gave us loads of information about the world of Panem. We learned so much in this book! Overall, I super enjoyed it and I flew through it because I simply couldn’t stop turning the pages.
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    this announcement absolutely changed me as a person
  • Petra-X
    January 1, 1970
    Updated 19th May 2020 - 14,662 ratings · 543 reviews, and it isn't published until tomorrow. A great deal of these were done 6 weeks ago when the ratings were up to 14,500ish. A lot of the ratings (sort by new) seem to come from unusual accounts, I had it in my mind marketing accounts from an Indian agency, but then the names changed so I was probably wrong. I thought that has got to be rubbish. Why on earth would the mega-successful and excellent writer Suzanne Collins' publishers want to do th Updated 19th May 2020 - 14,662 ratings · 543 reviews, and it isn't published until tomorrow. A great deal of these were done 6 weeks ago when the ratings were up to 14,500ish. A lot of the ratings (sort by new) seem to come from unusual accounts, I had it in my mind marketing accounts from an Indian agency, but then the names changed so I was probably wrong. I thought that has got to be rubbish. Why on earth would the mega-successful and excellent writer Suzanne Collins' publishers want to do this? I cannot fathom why at all.
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  • The Burning Rose (Jess)
    January 1, 1970
    Wait, what the fuck?
  • Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
    January 1, 1970
    I changed my mind. I do and this is also The Plot Thickens June pick!! YAY!-----------I just... don't want to read a 500+ page book... about Snow's life-----------[10/04/19] - We have been blessed with a cover and a title! Not a fan of the title but the cover is gorgeous!-----------Me when ARCs are being sent out:| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram I changed my mind. I do and this is also The Plot Thickens June pick!! YAY!-----------I just... don't want to read a 500+ page book... about Snow's life-----------[10/04/19] - We have been blessed with a cover and a title! Not a fan of the title but the cover is gorgeous!-----------Me when ARCs are being sent out:| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
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  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
    January 1, 1970
    Can't believe I'm going to be reading a new Hunger Games book in the year of our lord 2020. High school me is shaking.
  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    ★✰✰✰✰ 1 star It's a yikes from me.Did the world really need The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? I think not. Full of unnecessary exposition and weighed down by self-indulgent fanservice, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a train-wreck of a novel. The story lacks rhyme or reason, things happen only to advance the plot (regardless of whether they make sense because what is even logic?), there are no stakes (Coriolanus having to eat cabbage soup and not being able to pay taxes are hardly sourc ★✰✰✰✰ 1 star It's a yikes from me.Did the world really need The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? I think not. Full of unnecessary exposition and weighed down by self-indulgent fanservice, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a train-wreck of a novel. The story lacks rhyme or reason, things happen only to advance the plot (regardless of whether they make sense because what is even logic?), there are no stakes (Coriolanus having to eat cabbage soup and not being able to pay taxes are hardly sources of tension), the characters are ridiculous and one-dimensional, frequently the writing veers into the ludicrous, and the author doesn't trust her readers to reach obvious conclusions by themselves.Having recently re-read the Hunger Games trilogy, I was reminded of how good a writer Collins is.One of the strengths in THG series lies in Katniss' first person narration which brings immediacy and urgency to her story. In THG Collins' exploration of the ethics of violence and the conflict between survival and sacrifice struck me as being both nuanced and intelligent. There was also a certain ambiguity that allowed, nay encouraged, readers freedom of interpretation. Which begs the question...Collins, what happened?The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes may be the prequel to THG trilogy, but it's an altogether different beast. Which would have been fine by me if it had been 'different but good'. What we have instead here are simplified discussions about human nature (are we inherently bad? Do our circumstances shape who we are ? Are we responsible for what we do in order to survive?), an unconvincing story that is dragged-out for 500+ pages and is populated by goofy characters.The novel strives for depth, yet its attempts to address the nature/nurture question and other moral quandaries result in a clumsy and overt parable that is leagues from being a satisfying or insightful philosophical inquiry into human nature. An example of this would when Dr. Gaul assigns Coriolanus Snow and other mentors homework along the lines of: “Write me an essay on everything attractive about war.”What follows is a predictable and cringe-y scene in which they express their different opinions (shocking I know). Was that the only way to include a discussion on the ‘positives’ of war? It seemed a desperate, and rather pathetic, attempt to throw into the story some 'serious' material. Just because the characters who are talking about these things have ancient-Roman-sounding names that doesn't make their conversations any more meaningful or thought-provoking.Not only does the character of Dr. Gaul exist to tick the 'mad scientist' box (I will get to her in due time) but she's also there so she can explicitly ask characters 'challenging' questions regarding their moral and political tenets. So subversive and illuminating is she that she says things such as: “Who are human beings? Because who we are determines the type of governing we need” and “What happened in the arena? That’s humanity undressed. The tributes. And you, too. How quickly civilization disappears.” We also have characters like Sejanus Plinth who although District-born has spent the last few years in the Capital, and he comes out with: “You’ve no right to starve people, to punish them for no reason. No right to take away their life and freedom.”. Did this guy just suddenly realised what kind of world he lives in? After years of Hunger Games he's like 'nah, that's wrong. Humans should be free.' (as if he doesn't know that his words will have consequences?). Away with Plato. Move aside Nietzsche. Sontag? Get out of here. There is a new philosopher in town.Corny philosophising aside, the writing was weighed down by obvious statements which made the characters seem rather simplistic. Worst still we have cheesy gems such as “you’re mine and I’m yours. It’s written in the stars”, “although he didn’t believe in it, he tried to channel her telepathically. Let me help, Lucy Gray”, “The cabbage began to boil, filling the kitchen with the smell of poverty. ”What in the world? I'm supposed to take this seriously? The third person narration didn't do the novel any favours. Most of Coriolanus' thoughts and feelings aren't articulated so that his character is given no new depths. Collins' shies away from portraying him as a truly morally corrupt yet self-delusional person, making him into a not very convincing 'he's not that bad' kind of guy. He's an orphan who is tired of eating cabbage soup and not having money. Boo-hoo. His personality is just so tepid...he's sort of ambitious, sort of a liar, a 'sort of' kind of person. Look, I wasn't expecting the next Ripley or Humbert Humbert but Coriolanus is such a non-entity. While the narrative makes it seem as if he's this cunning and charming guy, Coriolanus' no Machiavelli. His elitist views are exaggeratedly rendered, so much so that they make him into a caricature of the contemptuous heir. Even those scenes in his family apartment or the ones where he's with Tigris or Lucy Gray did not make Coriolanus any more believable or sympathetic. His 'arc' as such was merely motivated by his desire for wealth. As the descendant of a powerful yet crumbling Aristocratic family he believes he's entitled to more than just cabbage soup for dinner. And of course, he hates Sejanus because 'new money'. From the first chapters characters are classifies as either good or bad. Throughout the course of 500+ pages they don't change. Their thin personalities remain fixed.Because of this the cast of characters is entirely forgettable. Although their names may appear on a page, their personalities remain largely non-existent. Coriolanus' fellow students and mentors....did they even possess an individuality ? With the exception of holier than holier-than-thou Sejanus, these ill-defined Academy kids soon morphed with one another. What they say or do matters very little. They are mere accessories to Coriolanus' story (we get it, although they have been indoctrinated to believe that the Districts are scum, they are not entirely entirely desensitised to violence or cruelty).Lucy Gray was just so ridiculous. She seems one of the few random characters to have a normal name, and yet there was something comical about the way a 'distressed' Coriolanus would shout out her name. While the narrative did seem now and again aware that she was treated as an object, the way she’s depicted seems to corroborate this. She just didn't convince me as an actual human being. At times she seemed a twelve year old Marie Sue, at times she seemed to have walked off the stage of a musical, and yet we are meant to find her intriguing? The adult characters are unintentionally funny. From the 'deranged' Dr. Gaul (who speaks only in cliches and is not at all intimidating) to Dean Highbottom (whose surname merely brought to mind Neville Longbottom) who for some reason I don't care enough about doesn't like Coriolanus. These two, similarly to the other characters, do not leave their assigned roles (in this case 'the mad scientist' and 'the bitter guy who for reasons holds a grudge against the protagonist'). The characters in this novel are clownish. They have wannabe-Roman names, they speak in clichés and come out with uninspired maxims.The world-building relies on readers having read THG. Which is weird given that this is not a sequel.Panem is a dictatorship because reasons. The novel also has a weak sense of place. The Capitol is barely delineated. The Academy is a building, Coriolanus lives in an apartment, and the Hunger Games take place in an arena. The architecture of these places is obviously irrelevant. Who even cares about descriptions of the characters and their environment? (I do).Minor spoilers aheadOne of the first things that did not seem very rational was that the Capitol assigned the tributes to eighteen-year olds. Sure, the childhoods of these Academy students were marred by the war, but in comparison to the tributes, they've led a fairly privileged existence. But however rich their education may be, they still lack experience. They have little insight into the entertainment industry and just because they've discussed war strategies doesn't mean that they could give any useful battle tactics. One thing is theory, the other one is practice. Yet, we are supposed to believe that the powers that bedecided that this particular group of students will mentor the tributes for the upcoming Hunger Games. The reason for this 'mentorship' is to make the Hunger Games more popular, garner some extra views or I don't know. To me this seems an ill-conceived plan.Anyway, let's go along with it: mentor=more entertaining Hunger Games. Okay, so why am I meant to believe that the same people who are working extra hard to make the Hunger Games more interesting would let the tributes starve for a few days in a zoo cage? So they can collapse and die as soon as they enter the arena? Why even bother with the mentors then?! It was quite clear that the only reason why the tributes end up in a zoo cage is to remind us readers that to the 'civilised' citizens of the Capitol, District people are less than 'animals'.There were so many scenes like this. They did not make sense but they are theatrical. Characters are attacked, killed, and or tortured for effect. For all she writes about violence and human nature, Collins' will often sacrifice believability for exaggeration. The whole thing with Dr. Gaul and her snakes was laughable. She's such a crudely drawn figure that it was impossible to feel intimidated by her actions. The violence in this novel seems closer to that of splatter film.The Hunger Games themselves are not only boring but they are described in a yawn-inducing way. The games section reminded of how in THG films they occasionally showed the game makers watching Katniss to make up for the fact that in the book we had Katniss' narration to fill the moments of 'quiet'. There was something so impersonal about these Hunger Games that I really did not care to see the way they would unfold (we know who is going to win anyway).Shockingly enough, I struggled to finish this novel and ended up skimming a few pages in the final section. I'm baffled. What is this mess? What was it trying to achieve? It adds nothing to the THG. Coriolanus is not nuanced nor is he believable. If anything he seems a very different shade of evil to that of President Snow. We still don't know much about the war. We get it, the Capitol suffered at the hands of the 'rebels'. Collins' tries to make this particular Hunger Games more significant by making characters come up with ideas that will be implemented in the following Hunger Games (like the sponsors or whatnot). For some reason Collins' has to 'foreshadow' later events or can't help but to reference mockingjays (“the show’s not over until the mockingjay sings”) and 'the hanging tree' song. What was the point in Tigris? She had a small cameo in the ...why try to make her ‘important’? Especially since her role in this prequel in pretty irrelevant.With so many pages did we really need to have passages in which earlier conversations reappear in italics? Why not trust that your readers will be able to remember what Coriolanus is referring to? Last but not least: I am so done with the ‘muttations'. They were the weakest aspect of THG trilogy and to dedicate so much page time to them is just...Moral of the story: approach prequels with caution.
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  • Charlotte May
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this well enough. It wasn’t as terrible as some of the reviews make it seem, neither did it blow me away. 3.5 ⭐️ Coriolanus Snow is from a noble Capitol family. His father was a war hero and his grandmother sings the Capitol anthem each morning. He and his cousin Tigris are both orphans, and since the war nearly all their fortunes were lost in shares in District 13. When the 10th Hunger Games comes around the students are offered the chance to work as mentors to the tributes, with a sc I enjoyed this well enough. It wasn’t as terrible as some of the reviews make it seem, neither did it blow me away. 3.5 ⭐️ Coriolanus Snow is from a noble Capitol family. His father was a war hero and his grandmother sings the Capitol anthem each morning. He and his cousin Tigris are both orphans, and since the war nearly all their fortunes were lost in shares in District 13. When the 10th Hunger Games comes around the students are offered the chance to work as mentors to the tributes, with a scholarship to the elite university for the winner. When Coriolanus ends up with the Girl tribute from District 12 he is less than impressed, surely a Snow deserves better. Yet his relationship with the feisty, musical Lucy Gray Baird will soon come to change him forever. A lot of reviewers have said how they don’t like Coriolanus. I agree, he’s elitist, controlling and often cruel, but we know this already. We know he becomes a villain- so I never felt obligated to like him. I could just follow him at a distance. The ‘relationship’ with Lucy Gray was weird. It wasn’t love, no matter how much he says otherwise. He wants to own her, to use her for his own ends. I enjoyed being back in Panem, seeing how so much of the history came about. The book was long, but then it covers such an amount I feel it couldn’t have been shorter without removing something relevant. I liked reading about Snow’s past. He was an asshole then, and grows up to be basically the devil incarnate. I loved the songs Lucy Gray would sing and the relevance of The Hanging Tree which we hear Katniss sing in The Hunger Games trilogy. It isn’t non stop action like the original trilogy, but it delves into the lore of this world a lot more, and I found myself swept away nonetheless. ****************Just ordered myself this bad boy online with my birthday money - can’t wait until it arrives!! ***********OMFG! What?!? 😍 This is the prequel I didn’t know I needed until now 🙌
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  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    Update 3/29/20: PREORDER PLACED!!!Do I have time to binge The Hunger Games before this releases?I'm gonna give it my best shot. Original:What's this???Irrefutable proof that dreams really do come true, that's what. Thank you, Goddess, Suzanne Collins! Thank you. Update 3/29/20: PREORDER PLACED!!!Do I have time to binge The Hunger Games before this releases?I'm gonna give it my best shot. Original:What's this???Irrefutable proof that dreams really do come true, that's what. Thank you, Goddess, Suzanne Collins! Thank you.
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  • Maxwell
    January 1, 1970
    If I were to sum this up in one word it would just be 'boring.' Did I hate this? No. Would I recommend it? Also no. It's not a bad book by any means. There are probably going to be lots of people that love this, and I'm sure they have valid reasons. But when it boils down to it, I don't think this book was necessary (and before you start saying "Oh, but Max, is anything really necessary?" I mean necessary to the world Collins has crafted in the original trilogy).To me this book didn't add anythi If I were to sum this up in one word it would just be 'boring.' Did I hate this? No. Would I recommend it? Also no. It's not a bad book by any means. There are probably going to be lots of people that love this, and I'm sure they have valid reasons. But when it boils down to it, I don't think this book was necessary (and before you start saying "Oh, but Max, is anything really necessary?" I mean necessary to the world Collins has crafted in the original trilogy).To me this book didn't add anything to what we already know about Panem. Sure there are little nods to elements from the original series that sort of wink at the reader to show you how things came to exist, etc. but it wasn't deeper than making references or alluding to things we know end up being important to Katniss and the gang.Snow was not really an interesting protagonist in my opinion because we already know where he ends up. And I can tell Collins expressly didn't want to make this one of those villain backstories that makes you sort of sympathize with them and excuses their behavior, which I thank her for not doing. However, that means his character arc is one of bad to worse, not good to bad or bad to good—so who are we really rooting for? I am all for an anti-hero, but that isn't Snow.Additionally, the pacing of this book is pretty awful. It's incredibly slow and could have done with a lot of paring down. It's inevitable that after a critical and commercial success like Collins had with THG, editors or publishers are wary of stepping on toes or telling someone what to do beyond line edits and general structure. It happens time and again, and I believe that's what happened here.Regardless, I know everyone and their mother is going to read it. Heck, I did too even though I didn't have a huge interest in it (despite loving THG, those books were big to me so long ago that the separation I have from the series meant my eagerness for this one in particular was minimal). But my library came through in the first week post-release so I figured why not (shout-out to Overdrive!). I'll be more curious to hear the discourse around this book than the actual book itself, and that, in essence, sums up my overall feelings: indifference.
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  • ALet
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like I'm 14 again
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