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

Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel)

Author: Suzanne Collins

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: May 19, 2020

RATING: 3 Stars

Suzanne Collins treats fans of the Hunger Games series with a return trip to the Capitol. This tale provides insight into how the Hunger Games came to be a Capitol tactic to control the Districts. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes also serves as President Snow’s origin story, following him as a young teenager and mentor for the 10th annual Hunger Games. While the novel’s premise is promising, the execution is lackluster. Snow is, was, and always be evil, and his origin story only highlights this fact. While most villain origin stories offer an arc involving a good person’s unraveling, Snow’s mentorship in the Games only amplifies the worst in him. The surprise of breaking that typical arc is noted, but since it proved there was little left to be revealed, it left much to be desired. After all, how do you write a dramatic story about an emotionless villain? Unfortunately, without emotion and without much novelty. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes spends too much time trying to emulate the success of the Hunger Games Trilogy instead of trying to find its legs as a worthy story by its own right. It is not until the last chapters where Snow’s character development truly begins. By then, it is too late, and many disappointed readers might not stick with the story to find out.  

Classroom Applications

  • Book Club or Book Exchange – Share the novel with students that enjoyed reading The Hunger Games trilogy.

Book Companions: The following are great books to pair with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. In parenthesis are the specific aspects students could explore when synthesizing across the texts.

  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Character Connections, Themes, Plot Structure)

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