Audiobook Review – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Posted June 17, 2020 by Kathy in 3 Stars, Audiobook Review, Book Review / 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Series: The Hunger Games #0
by Suzanne Collins
Narrator: Santino Fontana
Published by Scholastic Audio on May 19, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Science Fiction
Pages: 540
Length: 16 hours and 16 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

AMBITION WILL FUEL HIM.
COMPETITION WILL DRIVE HIM.
BUT POWER HAS ITS PRICE.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-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 outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver 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 favor 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.

3 Stars for The Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes

I loved The Hunger Games series, both the books and movies, and was so excited when I heard about the prequel. I had heard the prequel would focus on the early years of the infamous President Snow, yet I jumped into this book with an open mind. Overall, I liked The Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes but did struggle reading this.

What did I like?

The Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes takes place during the 10th anniversary of the Hunger Games. I thought it was interesting to see this world before all the high technology it evolved into. I was also surprised to hear of the struggles the residents of the capital experienced. Their problems are nothing like those in the districts, but it was shocking to see how they survived.

I hate to admit it but a part of me was starting to like Snow. Readers are given a glimpse into Snow’s past and the tragedy he had overcome. He is torn between doing his duty, supporting his family, doing what is right and trying to survive. I wouldn’t say Snow is a swoon worthy character but he does show a softer side, which was a welcoming difference from the later books.

I really liked Lucy Gray Baird, the girl from District 12 who is paired up with Snow. She’s a quirky character and seemingly the weakest tribute. Lucy brought her performance background to the games, charming the crowd with her singing and friendly personality. This served her well in becoming the audience favorite.

I enjoyed the references to The Hunger Games books and I thought it was a creative way to tie them together. I won’t spoil it but once you finish reading this book you will understand the title and images on the book cover.

What didn’t I like?

I listened to the audiobook and I did not like the narrator. This is my first time listening to Santino Fontana and he was a poor choice. I love listening to audiobooks because narrators enhance the story by bringing the characters and scenes to life. Fontana failed in doing this. He basically read the book, even the scenes that involved singing. His narration added to my struggles with this book, making me not want to listen at times. 1 star for his performance.

I had some problems with the pacing of this book:
-The first half of this book the pace was very slow. Because of the new characters introduced in this book it took so much time to share their background stories. So the first part of the book is very slow and boring. I found it too hard to stay focused and remember who each character was.
-The last chapters of the book felt rushed. In the final scene with Lucy and Snow I had to rewind the audiobook multiple times to fully understand what had happened.

As a fan of the series this is worth reading and the hardback cover sits next to my copies of the trilogy. This isn’t a redemption story of President Snow, but it’s a glimpse in the history of the Hunger Games. I wish there was more of Panem history, hopefully the author can take fans further back to the days of the rebellion.

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
three-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Audiobook Performance
one-star
Overall: three-stars

About Suzanne Collins

In 1991, Suzanne Collins began her professional career writing for children's television. She worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. For preschool viewers, she penned multiple stories for the Emmy-nominated Little Bear and Oswald. She also co-wrote the Rankin/Bass Christmas special, Santa, Baby! with her friend, Peter Bakalian, which was nominated for a WGA Award in Animation. Most recently she was the Head Writer for Scholastic Entertainment's Clifford's Puppy Days,and a freelancer on Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! While working on a Kids WB show called Generation O! she met children's author and illustrator James Proimos, who talked her into giving children's books a try.

Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, she was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you're much more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole and, if you do, you're not going to find a tea party. What you might find...? Well, that's the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part fantasy/war series, The Underland Chronicles,which became a New York Times bestseller. It has been sold into 21 foreign territories.

Her next series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, is an international bestseller. The Hunger Games has spent over six years to date on The New York Times bestseller list since publication in September 2008, and has also appeared consistently on USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. It has been sold into 54 territories in 52 languages. In 2010 Suzanne was named to the TIME 100 list as well as the Entertainment Weekly Entertainers of the Year list. In 2016, she was presented the 2016 Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community for exemplifying the unique power of young people's literature to change lives and create lifelong book lovers. It was the first time the Guild presented the award to a YA author.

Lionsgate released a film adaptation of THE HUNGER GAMES on March 23, 2012, directed by Gary Ross who also shared screenplay credit with Suzanne and Billy Ray. It broke multiple box office records and went on to become the 14th highest-grossing North American release of all time on its way to generating nearly $700 million at the worldwide box office. Lionsgate released the second installment THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE worldwide on November 22, 2013, directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael DeBruyn and bringing back stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz along with new cast members Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone and Jeffrey Wright. It was the highest-grossing domestic box office release of 2013 and the 10th highest-grossing domestic release of all time. Lionsgate released THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 on November 21, 2014 and THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 on November 20, 2015, also directed by Lawrence and welcoming Julianne Moore, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer, and Patina Miller to the cast. Both screenplays were by Peter Craig and Danny Strong from an adaptation by Suzanne Collins. All four films were produced by Nina Jacobson of Color Force and Jon Kilik. The worldwide box for the entire franchise was nearly 3 billion.

In September 2013, Suzanne released a critically acclaimed autobiographical picture book, YEAR OF THE JUNGLE, illustrated by James Proimos. It deals with the year she was six and her father was deployed to Viet Nam. It has been sold into 12 territories in 11 languages. Her first picture book, WHEN CHARLIE MCBUTTON LOST POWER, about a boy obsessed with computer games, was illustrated by Mike Lester and came out in 2005. It has been sold into 4 foreign territories.

Her books have sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

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