#BookReview Suzanne Collins - The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0)

The blurb.
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.

My review.

This was a reread for me. I first read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes when it first came out in 2020, and just now read it again in anticipation of the new movie. I was a fan in 2020, and I’m still a fan now. I know the feelings are mixed on this one, but I found it to be the absolute perfect prequel to The Hunger Game trilogy. Having read this backstory to the character of president Snow, it brings a whole new dimension to the well-known storylines and characters, both in film and books.

When we’re first introduced to Coriolanus in this book, he’s a clever young man obsessed by his image and the perception people have of him and his family, driven to climb the ladder of influence and restore some of the standing and wealth his family lost in the war. His ambition however quickly turns into ruthlessness when he rationalises every other broken boundary as a stepping stone to his own future success, reshaping or abandoning his moral as he goes. Seemingly not noticing himself how he loses little bits of his humanity along the way.

Where The Hunger Games is a brilliant dystopian trilogy, this prequel reads more as a political thriller. And a very good one at that.


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