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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) Hardcover – May 19, 2020
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#1 New York Times Bestseller The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes delivers a mesmerizing look into the life of Coriolanus Snow and the root causes of his villainous behavior. Collins once again proves that she is a master of building a fascinating world around complex characters who must grapple with the complications of chaos and control and their effects on human nature. -- The Associated Press It is a steep challenge to write a book whose hero is, everyone knows, destined to become deeply evil. Do we want to hear -- now, after we know the endgame -- that the young Voldemort was unfairly saddled with a demerit in class or that the adolescent Sauron fretted because he had to wear hand-me-down clothes? Yes, please. -- New York Times For true fans of The Hunger Games, Collins shines most as she weaves in tantalizing details that lend depth to the gruesome world she created in the original series and Coriolanus's place in its history. -- Time The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is your apocalyptic escape from our current apocalypse. -- Vox It's the pull between Coryo's head and heart -- and the realization that he actually has a beating heart, not just a rose-scented lump of coal -- that makes the future President Snow very worthy of a 517-page prequel. -- Washington Post [B]y introducing a new cast of teenagers, Collins is able to raise questions about privilege, the uses of violence, and the futility of war. -- People Collins's themes of friendship, betrayal, authority and oppression, as well as the extra layers of lore about mockingjays and Capitol's history, will please and thrill. -- MSN The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes describes how most lives are actually lived, the consequences of countless small choices that ultimately amount to a big one: not just how to feel but who to be. -- Slate Collins reminds readers that even the most horrible people may have at one point done the right thing, but that doesn't make them any less despicable or less worth overthrowing. -- Polygon * Both a tense, character-driven piece and a cautionary tale.... The twists and heartbreaks captivate despite tragic inevitabilities. -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review A gripping mix of whipsaw plot twists and propulsive writing make this story's complex issues -- vulnerability and abuse, personal responsibility, and institutionalized power dynamics -- vivid and personal. -- Publishers Weekly Praise for The Hunger Games: I couldn't stop reading. -- Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly The Hunger Games is amazing. -- Stephenie Meyer Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced. -- John Green, New York Times Book Review Praise for Catching Fire: Whereas Katniss kills with finesse, Collins writes with raw power. -- Time Magazine Collins expertly blends fantasy, romance and political intrigue. -- People Magazine Praise for Mockingjay: Fans will be happy to hear that Mockingjay is every bit as complex and imaginative as Hunger Games and Catching Fire. -- Entertainment Weekly Suspenseful... Collins' fans, grown-ups included, will race to the end. -- USA Today At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter. -- New York Times Book Review Unfolding in Collins' engaging, intelligent prose and assembled into chapters that end with didn't-see-that-coming cliffhangers, this finale is every bit the pressure cooker of its forebears. [Mockingjay] is nearly as shocking, and certainly every bit as original and thought-provoking, as The Hunger Games. Wow. -- Los Angeles Times * This concluding volume in Collins's Hunger Games trilogy accomplishes a rare feat, the last installment being the best yet, a beautifully orchestrated and intelligent novel that succeeds on every level. -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
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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 international reviews
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.