The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place 64 years before Katniss becomes District 12’s tribute in the original Hunger Games trilogy. Coriolanus Snow, the president of Panem, comes to us in Songbirds as an eighteen-year-old student at the Academy.
It is the year of the tenth annual Hunger Games and Snow is chosen to be a mentor to District 12’s Lucy Gray Baird. Lucy comes from a group called the Covey, musically inclined and always performing. While Snow is at first upset to be assigned the girl tribute from District 12, his mind begins to change when Lucy Gray Baird drops a snake down the dress of the mayor’s daughter on her way up to the stage after being named tribute.
Lucy sings a tune for all of Panem and Snow is enthralled. He will do anything he can to make sure Lucy survives the Hunger Games. Not just for her safety, but for the university scholarship winning would afford him.
This novel, at its core, is a love story. While we know President Snow and his diabolical and evil ways in the original trilogy, this novel gives us a look into what makes Snow tick. The novel is philosophical, contemplating what it means to have control and be governed. What is peace and how do we keep it? Snow grapples with intense emotions as he questions his loyalty to his friends, his tribute, and the nation state.
Lucy Gray Baird is an enchanting character, a manic pixie dream girl, who Snow falls for while trying to maintain her life inside the arena. Snow must choose between love and duty many times throughout the novel, showing us what it means to become the President Snow we know he later is.
While I felt at times that the narrative wandered and slowed, overall this was a great return to Panem and its intricacies. Twists and turns are around every corner and they were always there surprising me. I didn’t know how this would end, but I know I needed to find out.
The Subsequent Film
Releasing in November of 2023, I am sure I’ll be back to cover all the details for you. Below, you can watch a sneak peek into the future release.(4 / 5)