Book Review

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Author: Suzanne Collins
Released Date: May 19th 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 540
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Hardback Book


It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmanoeuvre his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined – every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Original image to show The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on my bookcase.
Why I Like This Book

“Well, as they said, it’s not over until the mockingjay sings.”

I was filled with nervous excitement to start reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I love The Hunger Games trilogy, but throughout the reader is persuaded to hate President Snow, which I do. So, why would I want to read a prequel all about him? The curiosity to find out what happened during the war and uprisings in Panem, and how it affected Snow made me actually pick this book up and start reading it. I wanted to know what happened for him to carry the games on for 75 years and predominately turn evil. The nostalgia of The Hunger Games is probably what I enjoy most, rather than reading about Snow’s life. So, if you were a fan of The Hunger Games, I would recommend reading this as the whole story revolving around the 10th Hunger Games is very interesting and captivating.

The Story

“The strain of being a full-fledged adult every day had grown tiresome.”

The build-up to the 10th anniversary of the Hunger Games is quite fast-paced. Almost immediately in Collins’ fourth instalment, we are introduced to new information, tributes and fresh ideas to make the games more fun for the viewers. In the book, a new perspective on the games is revealed. We get to sit back and join the voyeurs in the Capital, as opposed to seeing the hunger games we already know.

We follow Snow on his journey through District 12. What seems to be a story about romance and love quickly takes a turn. Murder, destruction and the inner battles Snow struggles with, take up a huge part of the book towards the end. We see the conflict of him wanting to be a good person and wanting to change the failure that his life has become.

The Characters

“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.”

Who likes Snow? I’ll admit he is a very good villain throughout The Hunger Games trilogy and I’m sure a lot of people are curious about him and how he ended up being so corrupt. Collins’ intention wasn’t to make you feel sorry for Snow, and if it was, I really didn’t. His actions and intentions frustrated me and I almost didn’t want to read on, because I knew he would only make bad decisions. However, I’m glad his character is so consistent and carried on making these bad decisions. Collins wasn’t trying to make him a new person, or coax us into liking him. I really started appreciating his character and understood what made him be the man that he was in The Hunger Games trilogy.

Lucy Gray Baird has to be my favourite character, maybe a lot of you will agree once you’ve read it? She has numerous similarities to Katniss Everdeen and not just the fact that she is the tribute from District 12, extremely clever, and family motivated. The romance that commences during the book is cute but necessary to show us Snow’s true character and abilities.

I got a little spark of joy whenever I read a name I recognised from the original books. Again, it was the nostalgia of seeing some of these characters or their relatives again that made me love reading this book.

The Design

“We’ll get new dreams out there…”

I always take the paper cover off of my hardback books. It looks neater and they always end up falling off for me anyway. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is one of the nicest designs I have seen. The cover is so simple and bright, it is the first book your eyes get drawn to, especially on my bookcase. As well as the cover, the artwork continues throughout the book with the beautiful illustrations of snakes.

Original photo to show page art work of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Page Artwork
Overall Thoughts

“Snow lands on top”

There are a lot of different views on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and I didn’t know how I to feel while reading it or after I finished. Even writing this now I am still debating which rating to give. I have always said I’d love to read/watch more Hunger Games from previous years, and I was so excited to think this is what Collins’ was giving us. Although this was not the case.

Overall, I loved reading this book, although it did start to drag a bit towards the end. This book is not written in the same story structure as The Hunger Games. I wouldn’t recommend if that is what you’re looking for. However, if you are interested and curious to see Snow back in his prime, how the uprising in Panem truly affected The Capitol and the Districts and how the games were early on, I would highly recommend you read this book.

Rating: 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy the book here!

*this is an affiliate link, I may earn a small commission if bought through this link*

Manchester blogger with a passion for reading, writing and travelling. I always have a book or a cup of tea in my hand.


6 June 2020 at 10:42 am

I’ve seen a lot of talk of this book these past few weeks, but this is the first full review I’ve read on it.. and now I want to read it even more! Also, what a beautiful book underneath it’s cover!! I adored the Hunger Games trilogy and even though you’ve said it’s differently delivered, I think I’ll LOVE this! I’ll let you know when I get round to reading it! x

6 June 2020 at 12:19 pm

I loved the HungerGames, not sure why I’m not yet sold on the prequel. I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually. Thanks for the review!

7 June 2020 at 10:47 pm

I really enjoyed your review. I loved The Hunger Games but I was on the fence about this one. I honestly don’t tend to love prequel novels as much as the original series for some reason, but I think I will give this one a try.

11 June 2020 at 5:05 pm

I’ve been debating reading this since I heard it was coming out, after reading this I’m more intrigued and think I’ll have to pick it up!

Hannah X

28 June 2020 at 10:34 am

Omg. My son and I just finished it on audible. I had read all three of the others too him because we read together a LOT and he was a little too young then but he really wanted to read them but I wanted to be there to monitor. He LOVES revolution! LOVES IT!! It’s his favorite. Anyway, I didn’t want to read this one to him but we wanted to go back together so we went by audible.

I can’t recover from how good it was!! I’m totally in book mourning now because nothing else I read this summer is going to have me so riveted!!! He loved it too and we had sooo many deep discussions. Omg. It was so good. We just finished today and I’m just book drunk!

The narrator was horrible. The only narrator I have ever actively disliked! But that might be to my benefit because I may buy the hard copy and reread it myself. I think I need grief therapy after this book! ❤️❤️

    28 June 2020 at 10:51 am

    Im so glad you and your son enjoyed it so much it is amazing! I’ve never really got a lkng with audiobooks, but never really gave them a proper go but i think I might! I’ve been trying to get loads of people I know to read it so I can talk to them about it haha!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright Ellie Mai Blogs. All Rights Reserved
%d bloggers like this: