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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Paperback – International Edition, July 1, 2021

4.7 out of 5 stars 52,437 ratings

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HARPER COLLINS; International Edition (July 1, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0702309516
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0702309519
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.3 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.63 x 1.34 x 7.8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 52,437 ratings

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Suzanne Collins has had a successful and prolific career writing for children's television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Collins made her mark in children's literature with the New York Times bestselling five-book series for middle-grade readers The Underland Chronicles, which has received numerous accolades in both the United States and abroad. In the award-winning The Hunger Games trilogy, Collins continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. Collins lives with her family in Connecticut.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
52,437 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 24, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is not a hero story
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 24, 2020
4.5 stars
Amazon delivered my copy early, so I'm going to do a spoiler free review and then a spoilery one. Pardon if this winds up sounding like an English paper. I have thought so much on the morals and questions in this book that I feel like I should have read this in school.

Note: I'm writing this review with the express belief that you, reader, have at least read the book description. Otherwise why are you reading this review?

I want to start this off by saying two things. One, this is not a hero story. Snow is never once, in my opinion, shown to be a hero in this in what we modern folks would call a hero. He's no Luke Skywalker or redeemed villain. This isn't some sob backstory to explain "why the bad guy is bad." This is yet another set of layers to the onion that is Snow.
Second, this book is dark. It's been a minute since I read the original trilogy, but I swear it wasn't quite as graphic as this book was. Cannibalism is mentioned, and it's shown/talked about that someone sawed the leg off a dead woman and ran off with it. One character is killed then hung on a hook and paraded. Another is also gruesomely displayed after their death. Several characters are dragged through processions to "prove a point," another character is hung from two large poles and left to basically die in the sun. Multiple accounts of vomiting/poison throughout, and a general unpleasantness at the lack of regard for human life.

Non-spoilery review:

This book makes you think. A lot. It makes you question things, and wonder if maybe Snow is right (he's not), but it's written in such a way that he's not a villain. Donald Sutherland in an interview made a great point in saying that Snow isn't a villain, he's just a ruthless man doing what he thinks is right to keep his home and country in one piece.
"He does it so well. And he doesn't think he's a bad person. He thinks it's the only way society can survive. And whether you think he's right or wrong, he doesn't think he's bad. He likes himself."

This should be the mantra for this book. Snow is a conflicting, flawed human. In our society, he's evil, a sociopath or a psychopath. He's a murderer and a killer. He's a bad guy. In his world, he's one of the masses. He simply lives as he's been raised to, with a mentality that has been ingrained in him since the war between the Districts and the Capitol. He's simply more ruthless then most and has the guts to make what he considers the "hard decisions."

Regardless of the other characters in this, they're all props to his story--which fits well with the Snow we know from The Hunger Games. Everyone is second stage to Snow and his life. This is his evolution from being a child to a man, to becoming the Snow we know and love/hate.

I definitely don't think this book is for everyone. I'm sitting here with my mom breathing down my neck because she can't wait to read it, and I don't think she'll like it at all, and she's a diehard THG trilogy fan. Why? Because not everyone likes to read depressing books. There's no redemption in this. There's no saving someone from themselves. This is the fall, stumble, plummet into being a not great person and embracing it fully.

So take that as you will. Full spoilers below about everything.

P.s. This is a standalone.


Okay, so, I was worried about this book when I read the first chapter sample and it got announced that Snow would be training the District 12 girl. I thought, oh crap, it's gonna be a cliche YA. It's gonna have a stupid romance that undercuts the whole plot and makes him a sap.
And yeah, it did that, and up until the last 50 pages I was teetering on a 3-3.5 stars. And then oh boy, the end.

Lucy Grey was a sweet girl, but she felt off since the beginning. I still can't fully put my finger on it, but her and Snow's relationship felt so <i>wrong</i> the entirety of the book. The red flags went up repeatedly every time he made comments about how she was his, and even so far as to say she was his property, and that's all kinds of wrong. And even though their romance was cute and fluffy, it felt bad, tainted. You knew something was going to happen. It always does in these villain backstories. Usually the whole reason the villain is bad is because the love interest gets brutally killed and then they're like whelp, guess I'll just be evil.

Not in this book.

Snow constantly struggles with morality and right and wrong throughout this. Should he turn in his friend to the Capitol because they're colluding with rebels and could tear down the (flawed) infrastructure? Or should he turn a blind eye and let his friend do his own thing? Is the Hunger Games wrong or good? Is it wrong to view the District people as second class humans? And so on.
This book broaches the topic of racism in very broad terms with the whole District/Capitol thing.
You've always known there was a divide between them, but in this, you really see how much the Capitol looks down on the Districts, and you can easily see how that morphs into such a hatred and distaste by the time Katniss first enters the Hunger Games.

But I digress. Snow struggles with morality, but he's flawed and very, very imperfect. He rationalizes every death he takes as self-defense or some other reason when really he's just murdered someone because it's inconvenient for him. He kills (or at least removes her from the picture; it's ambiguous) Lucy Grey in the end because she's a loose end and too free. He does it. Not someone else, not some freak accident. He chooses to do it and, by the time it happens, you already know what direction he's headed in so it's not quite another nail in the coffin. It fully feels like him tying up loose ends so he can go do whatever he wants.

All the nods to THG characters and names was cool. You also had a lot of The Great Gatsby vibes in the Old Money versus New Money mentality that a lot of the Capitol had with District people who gained a fortune and bought their way into the Capitol life. They're looked down upon by the old families and viewed as trash.

You saw a lot of the evolution in the Hunger Games, and you can see how it begins to change and grow into what Katniss and Peeta suffered through. You see how it begins to change from a simple punishment to a sport and a holiday, with the growing encouragement that it should be a normal and good thing.

You also see a side of the Capitol you most definitely did not see in the trilogy--suffering. A lot of the book shows Snow struggling with having been a small child living through the Dark Days and the war. He was 8 when the Capitol won, and even then it was hard. You learn about the hell the Capitol lived through as they were besieged by the Districts' army and forced to ration, starvation, and cannibalism. It's a hard picture, and it's so blatantly told. Collins didn't hold back any punches in this. I never felt like what was done was for shock and awe for the reader, but it was definitely that for the story, and it made sense. Regardless of the Capitol not being at war with the Districts anymore, the tensions were still so high that it makes sense for the Capitol to overreact in their retaliation of events. So when one mentor gets killed by her tribute, they shoot the tribute and parade her body around on a hook at the mentor's funeral. It's disgusting, debasing, and shows how much the Capitol views the Districts as nothing more than rodents or livestock.

Anyway, I'll stop talking. Go read it yourself. It's a hard read, a heavy read, but it was very, very enjoyable.
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 25, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 18, 2023
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Prequel
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 18, 2023
The dawn of the reaping for the tenth Hunger Games has arrived. Unlike years past this year students have been given the honor of mentoring a tribute and Coriolanus Snow is determined to have its victor. The Snow family legacy runs deep but in recent times, thanks to the war, it's getting harder and harder for Coriolanus to keep up the facade that their status hasn't slipped and the Snows are still as mighty as they once were. With his future on the line he can only hope that his tribute with the help of a Snow worthy strategy will be the last one standing. But when he is assigned to the District 12 girl, a slight, terrified looking thing, all of Coriolanus' dreams of success come crashing down. Determined to win at all costs the two must rely on each other, each decision having life or death consequences not only for Lucy Gray but for Coriolanus, too. With 24 tributes entering the arena only one will come out alive. May the odds be ever in your favor. I really enjoyed the Hunger Games series, whether it was the books or the movies so I was very interested in seeing how this prequel would measure up. In spite of some slower moments and one too many lyric filled pages for my taste I really enjoyed seeing how the past influenced the Katniss era games and how they evolved into what they became. I am really looking forward to the movie release in 2023. If you enjoyed the trilogy the first time around, take a chance on this prequel.
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 19, 2020
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