The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

By Suzanne Collins

Scholastic. 528 pp. $27.99

Reviewed by Lincee Ray

It’s been 10 years since Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games series, was published. Yet best-selling author Suzanne Collins manages to pull readers back into the world of Panem with ease. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes rewinds the epic story 64 years before the advent of Katniss Everdeen and explores the games through the unique view of an unlikely character.

A young Coriolanus Snow struggles to maintain upper echelon appearances in the Capitol. His goal in life is to make sure no one knows the financial distress his family has experienced since the war. With his parents gone, the noble name of Snow must be preserved at all costs.

The 18-year-old understands that being selected as a mentor for the Hunger Games is his best shot. If he is chosen, and somehow manages to keep his tribute alive long enough to win the games, he would no longer have to secretly worry about food, college tuition, or bills. More importantly, he would be associated with certain glory for the rest of his life.

Snow’s euphoria from being chosen as a mentor quickly wanes into humiliation when he’s given the female tribute from District 12. Snow pushes through the disappointment, knowing he must summon all the charm, charisma, and strategic thinking he possesses to make the Capitol fall in love with a girl named Lucy Gray.

To his complete surprise, Lucy’s endearing personality and knack for entertaining an audience makes Snow’s job a little easier. Could he actually win the games if he plays his cards right? Are the odds finally in his favor?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes delivers a mesmerizing look into the life of Coriolanus Snow and the root causes of his villainous behavior. Collins once again proves that she is a master of building a fascinating world around complex characters who must grapple with the complications of chaos and control and their effects on human nature.

From the Associated Press.