Overview (No Spoilers):
The Hunger Games is one of my go to examples of how a lackluster conclusion can leave a bitter aftertaste, souring series as a whole. Divergent and Queen of the Tearling are two of the other series that suffer from this same unfortunate phenomenon, albeit in my very bias opinion. That being said, I loved the first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, with Collins wholeheartedly commandeering my imagination in this wild fight for survival while struggling to maintain some semblance of humanity. If I’m totally honest, ten years later, I still have a bit of a grudge with regard to Mockingjay, and as a result, I wasn’t all that excited for the much anticipated prequel. Turns out I should have had more faith in Collins as she recaptured the magic that permeated the original The Hunger Games. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes demanded my full attention starting from page one, as this prequel follows a young Coriolanus Snow, long before he became President of Panem. We get a heavy dose of this earlier version of The Hunger Games, which is only the barest shell compared to the bloody over the top events we are familiar with in the first trilogy. Arguably most interesting aspect of this read was finally getting an inside glimpse of life in the Capitol, especially with the war lingering predominately in recent memory. Collins details what school life was like for the elites as well as a look at the creators and scientists behind The Hunger Games. Overall, as a prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was everything that a fan could have wished for, leaving the reader eager to pick up the original trilogy to apply the new insights that had been garnered with respect to one most disagreeable President Snow.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- Did Lucy Gray die? How did she know Snow was going to try to kill her? What would have happened had they not found the guns?
- What happened to the Covey after Lucy Gray disappeared?
- Did the Mayor really call Lucy’s name falsely? Or was her name drawn by chance?
- Lucy must have known that the snake that bit Snow was not poisonous. Was it a test?
- I’d initially thought that Lucy was Katniss’ grandmother, but after reading other threads, fellow readers make a really strong argument for Maude Ivory.
- When did the electric fences go up around District 12?
- Why were the snakes drawn to Lucy differently than the ignoring that Snow experienced? Did Clemensia heal from her snake wounds?
- Was Reaper really rabid?
- Who set the bombs in the arena?
- Poor, poor Sejanus! His family was so wealthy. How could he have shaped the world had he stayed in the lines until he came into the majority? His fate was so hard to read.
- Were the cookies that Snow found in Sejanus’ box the ones he had drugged for the guards?