“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins- Review by Sudeeksha Dasari

The Hunger Games jennifer lawrence Josh Hutcherson Catching Fire ...

I have so much to say!!! So since I know some people that want to read this book, I’m going to have a brief spoiler-free section. This book takes place during the 10th Annual Hunger Games, but it is from the point-of-view of the one and only, Coriolanus Snow. Yes, you read that right, President Snow. The thing is, the hunger games are new in this book; the gamemakers are still tweaking them. An addition to these games is that students from the Academy (in the Capitol) have the chance to mentor one of the 24 tributes. Snow is ecstatic at the chance to prove himself, until he gets the girl tribute from District 12.

This is the end of my spoiler-free section!!! If you don’t wish to be spoiled, move on!

I want to start by saying, the Hunger Games series got me into reading, so I went into this with big expectations. Well, this book didn’t disappoint in that arena 😉 I don’t know how Suzanne Collins does it, but every chapter had a cliffhanger! Like there were so many times I said to myself I would stop at the end of a chapter, but I couldn’t! I was always at the edge of my seat.

Capitol Perspective

One thing that was interesting about this book was the perspective of the villain. In the original Hunger Games series, we are in Katniss’s point-of-view. Snow’s perspective was so different, obviously. I was scared Collins would make us sympathize with the villain, but no! He is as evil as ever, even at the ripe age of eighteen. Snow was manipulative, cruel, and cunning; and I loved it! It was so cool to read his thoughts and reasons for his actions. Yes, it was creepy at times, but I thought that made him an even better villain. Snow came from a poor family, since his father and mother died when he was young. He lived with his grandma and his cousin, Tigris (surprise! Do you remember her from Mockingjay?). He couldn’t count on wealth, so he used his wits and charm to climb the ranks of their societal hierarchy.

Before reading this book, I never really thought of the citizens of the Capitol as people. They were sort of irrelevant in the original series, other than the important characters. So, reading about how the kids in the Capitol had education was intriguing! They go to an Academy and then move on to University. They had a lot of career options too.

A character that I found myself thinking about a lot was Dr. Gaul. She was the Head Gamemaker. She was in a lab most of the book and offering Snow “advice” (mostly creepy though). She said something in particular about the basics of power, she called them the three C’s: contract, chaos, and control. She explained that this was why the Hunger Games were a thing. Throughout the book, the readers see Snow taking this in and applying it to his experiences. I think this also showed the flaws of totalitarian governments. No one is really safe. Even the Capitol citizens are in their own fights to the death.

The Romance-

Okay so hear me out, I was mad with the romance at first. It just didn’t make sense to me. How could the oppressed, district girl, fall in love with the oppressor? Now as I’m writing this, I see that it fits them. They were teenagers. Snow fell in love with her because her victory benefited his image. Lucy Gray fell in love with him because he was her chance to live. Overall, I’m okay with the romance because Lucy Gray ended up dying by Snow’s hands. That was the only way it would have worked out with Snow’s character arc. He killed her because he was scared she would reveal that he betrayed the Capitol at one point.

Symbols Galore-

I guess it wouldn’t be a Suzanne Collins book without symbolism.

  • Roses- Reminds Snow of his mother. He keeps a compact from his mother that smells like rose powder. It’s a symbol of comfort. Also, fun fact, white roses mean young love and eternal loyalty ( Coriolanus Snow!!!!).
  • Mockingjays- A symbol of rebellion. Snow hates them throughout the book. He hates that they come from the jabberyjays, and they can’t be controlled. It just goes back to Capitol’s need for absolute power. It also symbolizes Lucy Gray! She was a “songbird” Snow couldn’t control.
  • Songs- guess what song came back? The Hanging Tree! Except this time, it has another meaning. It symbolizes how Lucy Gray and Snow ended up. The lyric, “Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free?” is what Lucy Gray asked Snow to do.
  • Snakes- they symbolize Snow! Cunning and poisonous. Lucy Gray used snakes in the arena, I think it connects to how Snow mentored her. Also, at the end, Snow poisons Dean Highbottom 😮

The Ending- Oh my goodness! I loved the ending! My jaw dropped! The readers kind of get a peak into Snow’s life as president.

You have made it to the end of this review! Thank you so much for reading!

-Sudeeksha Dasari

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