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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 459 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 12 - 18||Grade Level: 7 - 12|
- Book 4 of 4 in The Hunger Games (4 Book Series)
- Due to its large file size, this book may take longer to download
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- ASIN : B07V5KKSZT
- Publisher : Scholastic Press (May 19, 2020)
- Publication date : May 19, 2020
- Language: : English
- File size : 10855 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 459 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,364 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Here's a hint: An ebook costs next to nothing to publish, and should not cost more than the hard cover!
"The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" is a look back at the early days of Panem’s dystopian tyranny, and a glimpse of how Snow turned into the president he would later become. This tale is a very different one from Suzanne Collins’ other Hunger Games tales, whether it’s the third-person narrative, the cold and ambitious protagonist, or the general feeling of hopelessness and ruin that you know is not really going to get any better.
Born to the purple but raised in poverty, Coriolanus Snow is the only hope his grandmother and cousin Tigris have for any kind of comfort and dignity. He has to acquire a university prize and brilliant career in the upper echelons of the Capitol’s society, without ever betraying that he and his family are surviving on boiled cabbage and old outgrown clothes. If not, the Snow family will descend into… well, being ordinary poor people in the Districts, and Snow can’t bear the thought.
But then he’s dealt a blow. When various young mentors are assigned to the Hunger Games tributes, he’s given the girl tribute from District 12: Lucy Gray Baird, a strange girl with a luscious singing voice and plenty of stage presence. Though he thinks she’s crazy at first, Snow is determined to make the best of his assignment, and he even begins to believe that Lucy Gray’s charm and charisma can somehow help him.
The days before the Tenth Hunger Games are cruel to both the mentors and the tributes – there are bombings, venomous snakes, torture, and the psychopathic Dr. Gaul. But Snow’s efforts to save Lucy Gray from death in the arena, based on both his growing feelings and his desperation for success, will push them both to terrible extremes – revealing to Snow who he truly is, and what he’ll do to save himself.
In "The Hunger Games," Suzanne Collins depicted District 12 as a painfully impoverished place where starvation was only a missed meal away. And in "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," she depicts a different kind of poverty in the Capitol – it’s a relatively luxurious place full of wealth and parties, but there’s a rotten layer to this crumbling society, a sense of dark decay that underlies Snow’s world. And she reminds us constantly that the Capitol is still scarred by the war between Panem and the rebels, which got so bad that wealthy people cannibalized their servants in the streets.
Collins also switches up her writing here – rather than the first-person perspective of the Hunger Games trilogy, she relates Snow’s teenage adventures in the third person. Her prose is tense and taut, with moments of horror (the deaths of some of the tributes) or chilling sadness (“Tell her… that we are all so sorry she has to die”) spattered across it. The plot does grow less intense after the Hunger Games, when it seems like Snow has had to embrace a new life, but then takes a sharp twist into tragedy.
And though he’s the protagonist, Coriolanus Snow is never quite a likable person. We know where he’s coming from and what drives him, but he’s still a very chilly, proud, selfish person motivated by a belief that he is genuinely and inherently better than everyone else. When he’s around Lucy Gray, Collins slips in some actual human emotion, which builds up gradually throughout the book… but Collins never lets us forget for long that he’s not a good person, as seen when he talks about killing the mockingjays.
And he’s backed by characters who aren’t necessarily what they seem. While there’s the compassionate and slightly melodramatic Sejanus as a counterpoint to Snow’s more amoral approach, Lucy Gray is an elusive, mercurial presence that is hard to nail down. And Dr. Gaul is genuinely scary, a mad scientist who apparently does mad science entirely because she can.
There’s a deep sadness at the heart of "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" – a knowledge that this is a story that can’t have a happy ending, and can’t have a hero. But it is a fine dystopian tale, giving greater depth to the history of Panem.
Now you can enjoy that same villan's origin story that is completely devoid of even a tiny speck of any hope.
Wasted dynamic side characters just to prove how smart and charming Snow is.
The Anakin comparisons are a bit too on the nose. Now take away Luke, Leia, and Obi wan and you have this book.
I don't want to spoil anything but overall what I liked about this prequel are all of the interconnected pieces from Tigris to the Mockingjay and the history we read about in terms of the formation of the games. The only aspects of this book I did not like were some of the choices in terms of the plotting.
Snow - Finn Wolfhard
Lucy Gray Baird - Sophia Lillis
Dr. Gaul - Tilda Swinton (This is the casting that matters the most IMO)
The Grandmom - Meryl Streep
Sejanus Plinth - Tom Holland
Tigris - Zendaya
The rest of the cast I'd imagine could be dependent on an open casting call which would be really cool.
BOTTOM LINE: I hung on every word. This author can write!
Top reviews from other countries
Good story perhaps aimed at a slightly older readership and well worth a look.
The world-building of this novel is captivating. It is set 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games and only 10 years after the war. Due to this, we see Capitol in a very different light. The city is still war-torn and rife with poverty. The Hunger Games exists, but is a primal shade of what it would later become. Everyone bares scars of what happened in the conflict and would rather forget what happened. I personally found it interesting to see Panem in such a state, especially as Snow and his class gradually began to shape The Hunger Games into something closer to what fans will recognise.
Yet, I did sometimes think that the novel was too heavy-handed with its call-backs. While some of the minor changes, such as the introduction of sponsors and betting to the Hunger Games, were nice little nods, other things were less subtle. This was particularly obvious in the final section of the story, in which Coriolanus witnesses the origin of The Hanging Tree song and gains an irrational hatred of Mockingjays. Yeah, that is certainly on the nose.
In terms of pacing, I do think that this book has the potential to divide fans. Due to its focus on Coriolanus, it is no where near as fast-paced as the other books. After all, Coryo is a stage removed from proceedings. He is not in the arena fighting - he is watching from the safety of the mentors' box. What this did give the time for was more of a character study. We followed Coriolanus in his daily life within the Capitol as he attended school and mentored Lucy Gray. This allowed readers to see Panem from the other side - a world that is far different from the empoverished life of Katniss Everdeen.
Yet, at times, the novel could be incredibly slow. While I was utterly captivated by the first two-thirds of the novel, the section after the climax of the 10th Hunger Games did start to lose me a little. Coriolanus's time in District 12 was surprisingly uneventful for the most part. While things did pick up again over the last 40 pages, for the most it seemed to be a bit of a come down after the excitement of the Games.
In terms of character, the novel was also perhaps a little varied. As a character study of Coriolanus Snow, it was spectacular. Coryo is a fantastically complex character. His empoverished upbringing and desire to protect his family could have made him incredibly sympathetic, but this was offset by his ambition and underlying nationalism. Even at his most vulnerable, there was always a sense that Coryo would do anything to come out on top, which prevented him from ever being truly likeable. As a villain origin story, I would say that this was incredibly effective. You could certainly understand Coriolanus, but you could never like him.
Yet, while there was a large supporting cast, most of these faded into the background. This was, in part, because Coryo was so self-serving that he never really paid much attention to him. The two that really shone were Lucy Gray and Sejanus. Lucy Gray made for a compelling love-interest who was refreshingly different from Katniss. While her motivations were occasionally a little hard to grasp, she was very lovable and served as a representation of how different Coriolanus's life could be.
Sejanus was also a fantastic character as he represented new money - a character unable to fit in with the Districts or the Capitol. Although his naivety grew more and more frustrating as the novel progressed, the situation he was in was terribly sad and held a mirror up to Coryo. Here was a person who had a similar education to Coriolanus, but his upbringing allowed him to see the world in a very different light.
All in all, I actually really enjoyed reading this novel. While I can see why some fans were disappointed, I found it to be a wonderful character study that added a lot of depth to the series's villain. It's definitely one that I wold recommend.
What this book is not: Fully immersive into the different districts, a full accounting of President Snow's rise to power.
Whilst I love The Hunger Games, and a fan of YA/NA dystopia, I was a bit disappointed in BoSaS. Told completely from Coriolanus Snow's point of view, it centres around the period shortly after the great war - when both he and the Hunger Games were in the process of change and development.
There was a noticeable attempt to conjoin this prequel to its subsequent time-delayed sequels, with often repeat callbacks to songs, names and references which are so blunt it feels like they have just been jammed in to 'lay the foundations' for The Hunger Games trilogy. It felt clumsy, grating, and quite superficial - with very little character development or depth - in fact, the most action happens in the last 20 or so pages, and feels entirely rushed at the end - and abruptly breaks off - making me wonder if Collins is planning another prequel-sequel - which would leave Coriolanus's teenage years behind and examine his development of the 30s-60's. It provides no content or understanding of the next three books in the series, which was a major disappointment. I had read expecting there to be some reference perhaps towards the end. This is a standalone book.
This is still an excellent book for understanding the structure of The Hunger Games in it's early development, but ironically, it lacks the charm and depth of any of the other three books in the series.
I think this is the first review....
Well its amazing, buy it. Its like it is glued to your hands once you buy it!
Well done Mrs Collins.
However, I could not have been more wrong. This story is riveting- I read the whole thing in 4 hours and just could not put it down.
So many Easter Eggs for HG fans, origins and explanations.
I’m truly hoping there will be more to this one story, I found it more engaging than the original trilogy.