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Review – The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins is the long-awaited prequel to her groundbreaking YA series The Hunger Games. The book is set during the 10th Games, 64 years before the original books. It follows the original series main antagonist Coriolanus Snow, but here we see him in a vastly different light. He is an ambitious eighteen-year-old struggling to make his way in the world, with one mantra that spurs him on; “Snow lands on top”.

The games and Capitol city are far removed from the glitz and glamour of the original trilogy. Instead, we are presented with a world recovering from a devastating war, the games themselves are barely acknowledged. In an effort to bring the hunger games to a wider audience, it is decreed that 24 school graduates will each be given a tribute to mentor. Enter Lucy Gray Baird, our leading lady.

Snows’ tribute, Lucy, is from district twelve, but she is nothing like the original “girl on fire”. She’s colourful, charming and charismatic and guaranteed to be a reader’s favourite. Lucy is gifted with an amazing voice and reveals the origin of many Hunger Games songs through her wonderful performances which quickly make her a favourite of the Capitol’s citizens. We watch the world around Snow and Lucy slowly evolve throughout the course of the novel. We see them make difficult decisions; whether to help each other or themselves, and how sometimes, it’s exactly the same thing. We see how the games evolve into the familiar form of the original trilogy, and ultimately what causes Snow to change so drastically from the boy we meet at the beginning of this book.

In summary, this novel works well on its own, as Collins style and pacing is the reason her original trilogy stood head and shoulders above other novels in a frankly over-done genre. For fans of the trilogy though this novel will be a treasure, for the lore, backstory and characters as well as the familiar style.

It is slightly long at 517 pages, but don’t let this put you off as it’s necessary for the amount of drama and plot twists.

It has also recently been confirmed that the book is being adapted for the big screen by Lionsgate and Francis Lawrence will return to direct.