For those who haven’t read the Hunger Games prequel yet, don’t read on. Spoiler warning! But you want my initial thoughts? Reading this book was a chore. I’m drained, physically exhausted, and overall deeply disappointed in this addition to a well-loved franchise.
When I bought The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I dove right in without taking a look at any reviews online, wanting to be of completely fresh mind going in. I am such a big fan of the three Hunger Games books (as well as the movies), and I had high hopes for a story that would transport me back to Panem. I was initially thrown by the thought of becoming attached to President Snow’s origin story, so I began with quite a bit of skepticism. I know many people love seeing a story from different perspectives, but I’m still a sucker for happy endings and it’s known from the start that this isn’t going to be one.
The book started slow, inching it’s way slowly to the 10th Annual Hunger Games where almost half the tributes die before even entering the arena. The games lacked excitement and emotion, and after a few days the obvious happened: Snow’s tribute was victorious. He fancied himself in love with her, an awkward and incredibly unromantic story. But the common trait that was constantly returned to was Snow’s ‘goodness’ and want to protect the innocent while ultimately agreeing with the rules of the Capital. A strange dichotomy that seemed to have me thinking in circles. Do we like Snow? Or hate him knowing what he’s like in the next three books?
The games finish about halfway through the book. But then what? What followed was a story that lacked excitement (and plot in my opinion) to show us how Snow went bad. After the games, it seems that the majority of the story is an inner monologue; Snow in his own head. He had some ‘bad’ Capital-esque thoughts all along, but he still seemed good. He really wanted the best for Panem.
Until the end….
WHAT? I’m sorry, what? I reread the last few chapters twice through because I was sure I missed something. It was random and surprising, and not in a good way.
It was boring, unfocused, and odd. The three Hunger Games books didn’t leave me wanting to know origins or the stories of previous games. I would have remained happy never having forced myself through this book. But I hated it, and it’s tainted some opinions of The Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins.
Please, book gods, don’t let this one be turned into a movie.