The Ballad of Songbirds and Sankes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Rating: 3/5 stars
“The show’s not over until the mockingjay sings,”
For the first time in nearly ten years, Collins takes us back to the dark and brutal world of Panem for the tenth annual hunger games.
This book was a rollercoaster. It is extremely interesting to see how the early games were viewed by both Capitol and District citizens and it is interesting to see the beginnings of the games; how different they used to be and how they evolved into what we know in the original trilogy.
Our main “protagonist” is a young Coralanois Snow who, at eighteen-years-old, is a poor student of a once-powerful family in the capitol. We get an insight into how the post-war Capitol was and we also see the effects it had and how much they also suffered during the dark days. Snow has been picked as a mentor for the district twelve girl; Lucy Grey, who is, in my opinion, one of the best characters in this novel. When we first see her, she is being reaped, she is throwing a snake down the mayor’s daughter’s dress and then singing on stage. We know immediately that we’re going to have a wild ride.
One of my main issues with this book was how jarring it was following Snow. That is definitely a personal preference thing, but I spent the majority of the novel unsure of how I was supposed to feel about him. He’s a complicated character to follow. It is definitely not supposed to make you like him. Nor is it supposed to give a reason as to why he became evil because he’s definitely not good from the beginning, but we see how his snake-like behavior, manipulation, beliefs, and selfishness spiral into something that would quite easily become the Snow we love to hate. (I actually think I hate him more after this book).
Another issue I had was how unbelievably wild the first half of the book was. The first half covered the pre-games and the games, and let me tell you, I was shook all the way through it and not in a good way. It reminded me of some fanfictions I used to read, but in those fanfictions, people would usually say how unrealistic the events were. And they were here, in this book…it was mad.
But! The second half of the book really was it’s saving grace. It still was’t fantastic, but I did really appreciate what they did and I really appreciated the story. We get some sort of Hanging Tree origin story playing out and honestly, I found it really quite interesting and the post-games story was enjoyable to read even though Snow became more and more unlikable.
To finish off this review, I will conclude by saying that this book is going to really split opinion. It will, ultimately, be completely down to personal preference and that preference has nothing to do with how much you liked the original trilogy. Some people have said ‘if you are a massive hunger games fan and have recently rad it, you will love it’. I disagree, even though I certainly didn’t not like it. I felt like it was trying too hard to be fanservice. There were a lot of references to the first trilogy that I did not feel were needed such as Heavensbee Hall, Lucky Flickerman, etc. Even the mention of the katniss plant seemed really random although I appreciated the significance in them saying it was not the plants time yet (meaning the roots weren’t ready to be boiled) but also talking about how it was not time yet for a rebellion, but suggesting the time would come. I appreciated it even if it seemed random .
I am surprised the book did not go down the route of “I, president Snow, do not like katniss roots for no reason what so ever’, because that’s exactly what happened with mockingjays. Snow hated Mockingjays, despite the fact he really liked jabberjays. That in itself seemed a bit strange to me, because if he’s going to dislike them because they’re unnatural, shouldn’t he dislike jabberjays too? “Coriolanus felt sure he’d spotted his first mockingay, and he disliked the thing on sight”. Why tho? They’re just song birds. He literally has no reason to hate them at the moment, and he actually has more reasons to like them than dislike them
I did like the whole”The show’s not over until the mockingjay sings” though. That was iconic.
Overall, I liked the new information and further worldbuilding we got. (We got a lot of it!”) I liked the backstory of the hanging tree. I liked Sejanus’ character and Lucy Grey’s character. I liked a lot of it, but I was also disappointed overall because, this book did not need to do much to be a five-star read for me because of how much I love The Hunger Games. Just having more material should have been enough, but I can’t ignore the weirdness that happened.
What are your opinions on this book? Do you plan on reading it?