A prequel to the hit novel trilogy "The Hunger Games," Suzanne Collins’ newest novel "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" details the life of Coriolanus Snow a couple of years before he first became Panem’s president. Snow is an 18-year-old Capitol student just about to graduate from the Academy and hopefully proceed on to University, but first, he must mentor the District 12 girl tribute in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. This Hunger Games in particular is a first for many things and sets precedents for the years to come.
The role reversal of having Snow be the protagonist of this novel versus his antagonistic role in the original trilogy makes for a very interesting plot. Writing his character’s backstory 60 years before he originally appeared in "The Hunger Games" opens a lot of doors and provides a very interesting take on the "Hunger Games" universe. In fact, this prequel fleshes out the book series as a whole rather beautifully.
Collins makes full use of her wondrous writing skills. Her style of writing is fresh and better than I remembered from the original "Hunger Games" trilogy. Because of Snow’s predicament, Collins focuses her writing on imagery and details that are important to the character and his point of view. She writes as if she really is the character, not just an observer. The story would be told completely differently if the protagonist were a different character in the novel because of how biased Snow is.
The use of the unreliable and biased Capitol narrator takes on an interesting role, especially coming from the extremely narcissistic Coriolanus Snow. It is quite different seeing Panem and the districts through the eyes of the young Snow versus the perspective of District 12’s Katniss Everdeen.
The new prequel compliments the original trilogy beautifully and to a tee. There are quick and minute details that directly reference the trilogy, like certain names of characters that are likely parents or grandparents of some characters that appear in "The Hunger Games." The beginning of Snow’s hatred for mockingjays also comes to light, as well as the significance behind how he became the man he was in "The Hunger Games."
"The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" sings an unsung tale of how the Capitol and its inhabitants became the overbearing and suffocating state by the time of the 74th Hunger Games that takes place in the first "Hunger Games" book. The book highlights the war, the Dark Days, and the origin of the hatred and malice the Capitol feels towards the districts and rebels.
Snow makes decisions that inevitably lead him to the role that we all know he will eventually play in the trilogy, but the reader can’t help but root for him to be better. Snow is a charming and witty young man that easily wins over his audience, both in and outside of the book. His perils and pursuit of power take him to the most unexpected places.