It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-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 out charm, 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. (less)
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.
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.
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. Just to get to the point where Snow needs to decide if he wants to be good and poor and in love or bad and successful.
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 and school demerits. His inner world is neither explained well nor is it interesting. This is not a successful villain origin tale. Too many new characters are introduced, but none of them are memorable. There is not one person of Haymitch’s caliber, or Cena’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 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 was waiting for some big twist happen on that front, but alas.
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 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…
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.
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.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel book to The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It’s the prequel to the 2008 bestseller The Hunger Games, centering on the events that occurred 64 years prior to the trilogy.
The book was announced on June 16, 2019 by Scholastic Press. The author Suzanne Collins said in a statement that she would go back to the years following the so-called “Dark Days,” the failed rebellion in Panem. Scholastic spokeswoman Tracy van Straaten declined comment on the new book’s contents or featured characters beyond what’s described in the first official announcement.
The cover art and title was announced by Scholastic at New York Comic Con on October 4, 2019. The cover art for the novel was designed by Tim O’Brien.
The main character was revealed to be a young Coriolanus Snow on January 21, 2020, along with an excerpt from the novel.
An Amazon Best Book of May 2020: If you read The Hunger Games in one sitting, settle in for the long haul once more—because The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is nearly impossible to put down. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place a decade after the war between the Districts and the Capitol, and even the “winning” side is still trying to recover. For the tenth anniversary, the Head Gamemaker brings in students from the Academy to act as a mentor to each of the tributes, and one of these students is 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow—President Snow, when we met him in The Hunger Games. Snow gets assigned the girl tribute from District 12, an underdog to be sure, but Lucy Gray Baird is her own flavor of Katniss—very different in style and personality, but no less compelling. You want her to succeed. And I felt the same about Snow, who, while still arrogant and entitled, finds himself questioning the purpose of the Games and the treatment of the tributes. There’s so much I want to tell you about this novel, but I really want you to experience it all for yourself, because The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is incredibly exciting, thought-provoking, and relevant. Now please hurry up and read it because I’m dying to talk to someone about this book. —Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review
Praise for The Hunger Games: “I couldn’t stop reading.” — Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly “The Hunger Games is amazing.” — Stephenie Meyer”Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced.” — John Green, New York Times Book Review Praise for Catching Fire: “Whereas Katniss kills with finesse, Collins writes with raw power.” — Time Magazine “Collins expertly blends fantasy, romance and political intrigue.” — People Magazine Praise for Mockingjay: “Fans will be happy to hear that Mockingjay is every bit as complex and imaginative as Hunger Games and Catching Fire.” — Entertainment Weekly “Suspenseful… Collins’ fans, grown-ups included, will race to the end.” — USA Today “At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter.” — New York Times Book Review”Unfolding in Collins’ engaging, intelligent prose and assembled into chapters that end with didn’t-see-that-coming cliffhangers, this finale is every bit the pressure cooker of its forebears. [Mockingjay] is nearly as shocking, and certainly every bit as original and thought-provoking, as The Hunger Games. Wow.” — Los Angeles Times* “This concluding volume in Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy accomplishes a rare feat, the last installment being the best yet, a beautifully orchestrated and intelligent novel that succeeds on every level.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
About the Author
Suzanne Collins is the author of the bestselling Underland Chronicles series, which started with Gregor the Overlander. Her groundbreaking young adult novels, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, were New York Times bestsellers, received wide praise, and were the basis for four popular films. Year of the Jungle, her picture book based on the year her father was deployed in Vietnam, was published in 2013 to great critical acclaim. To date, her books have been published in fifty-three languages around the world.