The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) by Suzanne Collins (Review)

Since getting my new car, I've really enjoyed having an audiobook to listen to on long journeys. My old car didn't have the capability to play anything but the radio or, believe it or not, CDs themselves. One of the most recent audiobooks I've read is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the most recent release in the Hunger Games franchise. 

"It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes."

As a fan of the original trilogy, I tried to be cautiously optimistic with this book, just like I was with the film. I ended up really liking the film and premise it set up exploring the history of how The Hunger Games came to be. I thought the book might provide further insight, but it was very much similar to the film and each chapter was almost a replica of the film. It's not a bad thing, but it did leave little to the imagination. It cleverly explores themes of friendship and betrayal, love and oppression, in a friendly writing tone. 

One thing the book did make me do, was fall for Snow a little and that is quite shocking, given the person he becomes in the trilogy later. I really hope there ends up being a sequel to this prequel because it was really engaging but also left and created a lot of unanswered questions. I want to know more about Snow's journey to Presidency and The Hunger Games evolution themselves. Also, I would love to better understand the relationship with him and his cousin. How they were best friends for so long and then became enemies, working against each other. 

I often find myself changing names in books when they're complicated or too difficult for me to read quickly, otherwise trying to pronounce it properly, takes away from the book. Having a narrator read it quickly and seamlessly was perfect. On the other hand, I found the songs doted throughout the book, really difficult to picture and understand. I actually loved being able to quickly YouTube most of them with clips from the film which added so much to the understanding of the song. Otherwise, it's more of a poem which doesn't fit the context of the film. 

Overall, I've really enjoyed this book. For once, I actually liked having seen the film adaptation first and I think it added a lot to it. I do however wish, it didn't jump from one big event to another, sharing a bigger insight into topics.