Melissa reviews Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Books, 2020, 510 pages.

The longawaited prequel to the beloved Hunger Games Trilogy is finally here! The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is told from Coriolanus Snow’s perspective who grows to be the much hated dictator of Panem from the initial trilogy. This particular novel takes place when Snow is a teenager during the 10th Hunger Games, sixty-four years before we meet Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games 

Overall, I give this book 3.5 out of 5. Without the nostalgia factor of getting back into a world I enjoyed many years ago, the rating would be closer to a 2 out of 5. The general idea of the book is how did the Hunger Games become what they are and how did Snow become Snow. I think the first part is done fairly well, seeing how they were started, and the direction readers know end up taking get closer to the 74th and 75th Hunger Games we all know and love (Is it weird to say you love them?).  If readers have not previously read the original trilogy;  however, even this well done portion of the book would be lost on them. So,  readers, be sure to read about Panem in published order rather than chronological.  

What the book tries really hard at, but doesn’t really get quite right, is the transformation of Coriolanus Snow into what we know he is to become. You may learn where his affinity for roses comes from, but you never get so far as sympathizing with the villain which I believe is truly the intent with this novel as it has been an on trend theme with books and movies in recent years.  I feel like this would have been a really great prequel novella, but it just does not hold up in a full-length novel.