Book 30 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne
Collins fulfilled the “Book
Published in 2020” category of the PopSugar Reading Challenge. The novel is a
prequel of the Hunger Games series by the same author. This novel chronicles
President Snow in his formative years. It was published in May 2020.
I read the Hunger Games series long ago and had a
very hard time with it, especially the first title.  Just the idea of children killing each other
made me sick. The writing was fine, and the storyline good. But the plot was
pure Shirley Jackson’s The
. Ms. Collins tackled a controversial topic and did well (until the
end of Mocking Jay, but that’s another story). Personally, I think The
Hunger Games should be taught in high school.
But I never understood the teen response to the
books. People made Hunger Games play-a-longs in Minecraft and had Hunger Games
themed birthday parties. It seemed they missed the point of an authoritarian
government forcing the poor and underprivileged to sacrifice their children.
Teens didn’t seem to
see that, and no one explained it to them. When my girls were old enough and
had an interest, I talked to them about it, told them about The Lottery, and
cautioned them about the violence.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes narrative shows
how President Snow became the man he was in the first book of the series. I have
no clue. The novel gave some great insight into how we got to Katniss’s story. But Snow is still a
mystery. It’s as if Ms. Collins wanted to dump a big backstory on us to explain
how we got to Katniss with a story about another character.
Spoilers ahead.
tale reminded me of Heartless by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar
Chronicles. In that novel, Ms. Meyer tells the origin story of the Queen of
Hearts. Like Ms. Collins, we route for this villain until the end when they
completely change gears, personalities, and tacks. Snow was a pretty good guy
until the last few pages. (He was a spoiled brat, but I digress.) I do not
understand what happened in the ending scene. His life was tragic in a “poor,
little rich boy” way, but there were no feels to set up his break. Heartless
was the same. A true villain story should make us think “hey, they weren’t so
bad, just misunderstood.” This book failed to do that.
The rest of the novel was okay, the same style as the
other three. But again, the feels were shallow. It showed the deeply troubled
mindset of Capital residents with the cluelessness only the rich can have. It says
something about the times we are living in but does not hold up as a story to
relate to, like Katniss’s.
Had the author chosen to give us a deep look into Snow and made him a better
man, his fall would have impacted us more. But as it was, I saw a spoiled boy
get betrayed (though I have no clue how he realized it) and throw a temper
talk about titles for a second. It’s not pretty and rather deceptive. Yes, the
mocking jay had a huge role in the first three books. But if Snow is the snake
and Lucy Grey the songbird, then why wasn’t this apparent until the very last
second? Both animals were represented in the book, but Snow was never tied to
the snake. Was Lucy Grey also the snake? What happened to her in the end?
get me started on some of the character’s first names. The audio reader was
tripping over them throughout the story.
This was not my favorite. 
I give The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
by Suzanne Collins Three Colorful Venomous Snakes.

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