Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Posted June 9, 2021 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Dystopian, Fantasy, Review, Science-Fiction / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne CollinsThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0) by Suzanne Collins
Narrator: Santino Fontana
Series: The Hunger Games #0
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks on 05-19-20
Genres: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Dystopian
Length: 05-19-20
Format: Audiobook
Source: Libby
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: three-stars

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.

I picked up this book because I was looking forward to a mindless and satisfying reading. I’m afraid it was just okay.

The book tells the story of young Coriolanus Snow and his role as a mentor of one of the tributes during the Hunger Games. When I began listening, I found the premises interesting and the characters compelling. This was a story I was eager to know about. Lucy Gray seemed such a fascinating character at first that I thought this was going to be a mind-blowing book. I somehow expected a drastic evolution in Coriolanus from the innocent capital boy to the character we know from the other books. I wanted to love Coriolanus to have my heart torn at the circumstances of his transformation, but he was ambivalent most of the time and from the start. He played a double game to try to take advantage in one way or another. I also expected much more from Lucy Gray. She was brilliant, proud, and defiant; she made the public and Coriolanus fall in love with her. She had the power to manipulate the people and it was what I almost expected from her. When she declared her love for Coriolanus I thought she was playing him for her own survival, as this could have made for such an interesting plot. But no, this love story looked more like Stockholm syndrome than anything else.

There were many characters to keep track of, as we have the twenty-four tributes plus the twelve mentors and some teachers. It’s just not possible to develop so many characters, so at first, it was a bit difficult to keep track of who was who. The story dragged a bit too much, and what I expected to be a quick and satisfying read, was longer than expected. I think it would have helped if I were more invested in the two main characters, but both disappointed me. It was an okay book but not at the level of the rest of the series.

Santino Fontana’s narration was mostly correct but it lacked emotion. I think the story at times needed a more expressive character interpretation that Fontana didn’t deliver. The audio production was correct.

There are plenty of songs in the book, and I never know whether it’s better when the narrator sings or just reads the songs, I guess it depends on the narrator’s ability to sing. It could have been that the songs were too many, it definitely felt this way, but it could have been just Fontana’s immutable narration that flattened them out.

Story (Plot)
Overall: three-stars