The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins
This prequel of the beloved Hunger Games trilogy is absolutely fantastic. This story has the ability to be read as a stand alone, as you do not need previous knowledge of the original three books. However, it does give insight to situations and reactions in the trilogy. This book makes you sympathize with the loathsome antagonist from the main series, President Snow.
The plot follows orphaned Coriolanus Snow as an eighteen year old about to graduate from the capitol's academy. Him and twenty-three other classmates are chosen to participate as the first ever mentors to the tributes in the games. As it is announced who was assigned to what district and what gender. Snow is assigned the district twelve girl-- which he perceives as a personal insult due to his family hiding being poor. The dean of the school is one of his father's old friends, who has an issue with Snow.
The girl's name who was pulled for district twelve was a young lady named Lucy Gray Baird, who in short is a cunning and vivacious girl. She is not afraid to be the center of attention and seems to thrive in the spotlight with her musical talent. This makes her a perfect match for Snow, who is also cunning and charming.
Collins' writing is spellbinding and delicious, which left me hanging on every word. I was not sure where the plot would go, but I was extremely curious about what we would learn about Snow. I believe learning about a villain's past can lend an eye into the world. (Much like we get a backstory on Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.)
Snow is a manipulative person, and uses many people throughout the story, which is not shocking with his future in mind. However, he doesn't seem to have that sickening, spine-tingling malevolence that we were so familiar with. His thought processes, while calculated, seem a bit childish and immature. As he gets further into the politics involved with the games and is probed with philosophical questions, I watched as he became more pernicious and destructive to those seeming close to him.
Understanding what caused Snow to become as heinous as he was in the series, was delightful and fascinating. As well, seeing how politics affect the games and people involved was eye opening.
Thank you to the awesome Samwise for letting me share your review with the world! I agree with him 100% and I hope you all give this fabulous book a try!
- Samwise works with me at my local bookstore and although we often read different things we agree on this one-