- The protagonist is Coriolanus Snow (aka President Snow)!
- Suzanne Collins, the author, never disappoints.
Now on to the important stuff!
As soon as I ripped open my Barnes and Noble box, I noticed this book is big just like the title. The stories of Panem have typically been around 400 pages, but "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" consists of 528 pages packed with information. I only felt its length about ¾ of the way through, but the pacing overall was immaculate.
As a reader, the familiar patterns of Suzanne Collins's pen were the only comfort in reliving yet another Hunger Games. It was brutal. And, that's kind of the point. My face scrunched up uncomfortably reading paragraph after paragraph of violent actions. At first, I wondered why put us through this again? It must be torturous to write. Then it hit me. Suzanne Collins is commenting on the fact that familiarity with violence should not desensitize its effect. This is not our first time in an arena, but it is the first time we see how familiarity affects our perception of violence.
The 10th Hunger Games is a large part of this book, but it is not the sole component of the narrative. Memories of the war and the devastation that followed are frequently relived. Violence is the ghost that haunts nearly every page of this prequel. War is not glamorous. Collins expertly leads readers through painful experiences with her characters, but she does it tastefully and without excessive gore.
Although this world is familiar, it is NOT a repeat of past stories. The best part is that Coriolanus Snow is a modern villain. Collins drops us in the very soul of Snow, and his motives and internal monologue are now ours to interpret. Long gone are the days when a villain was evil for the sake of being evil. Seeing into Snow's mind and feeling his emotions creates a constant tension within readers. Humanizing a villain is something readers rarely see, but this risk creates a depth in both the storyline and the reader.
It requires reflection.
"The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" encourages personal reflection in order to be felt and understood properly. If you are looking for a basic narrative to entertain you, this book is for you! But, it is so much more than a few hours of entertainment. This book guides your mind through roads rarely walked on.
If you're looking for something deeper, this book is for you too! At the end of the book, a Q&A with Suzanne Collins is included. She explains how philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau are incorporated into her work along with poets like William Wordsworth. If you want to dive even deeper, she reflects on why different people believe in different styles of government. Honestly, Suzanne Collins's discussion questions are THE BEST! Do not skip over them!
Collins delivers a narrative that comments on human nature, violence, and government. All while challenging individuals to define their own believes on such matters. Such complex ideas packaged in a YA fictional book is not only entertaining but a timely lesson for us all.Rating: 4.5/5