by Suzanne Collins
Narrator: Santino Fontana
Published by Scholastic Audio on May 19, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Science Fiction
Length: 16 hours and 16 minutes
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble
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.