Do We Actually Hate President Snow?


Source: Scholastic Press

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Hardcover, 528 pages)

Owen Etter, Staff Writer

     Suzanne Collins’ newest release, a prequel novel to her bestselling Hunger Games Trilogy, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is the President Snow origin story fans could only dream of. The novel makes one think about the deeper reasons for the trilogy antagonist’s motives.  It can be found as in hardcover format at all book stores and Amazon (Audiobook/Digital/Hardcover). You will only want to put it down to reflect on how it changes the original series in a positive way.

     The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is the prequel novel of The Hunger Games Trilogy and follows an eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow, who would later become known as President Snow, during the tenth Hunger Games as a mentor. The Hunger Games being the annual event where each of the twelve districts of Panem must draw for one boy and one girl tribute to be sent into an arena and fight to the death. Coriolanus is assigned to mentor the District Twelve girl tribute which he at first despises for the lack of chances of the tribute being the Games victor but then begins to release her appeal. Lucy Gray Baird is lively, colorful, and theatrical which Coralanus begins to see could bring in the attention of viewers.

     Snow’s main reason for getting Lucy Gray far in the games is to help his odds of gaining a scholarship for university because unlike other Capitol families the Snows had not recovered financially following the war that occurred ten years prior. The Snows live starving yet show the world that they are still wealthy and have power out of pride which makes Coriolanus desperate for the prize money to go to university and later get a good job. As time goes on the connection between the mentor and his tribute begins to change making them more determined to win the games.

     This novel gave the original trilogy more interesting layers which are evident in the different elements Suzanne Collins used. The point of view used was the third person, like the previous novels, but from the perspective of Coriolanus Snow. With the novel following Snow, the tone of the novel was thoughtful, critical, and solemn which helps readers like myself escape into the eyes of the character. The view of the Hunger Games from the point of view of a Capital citizen was a brilliant way of showing another side of the world of Panem.

     As a prequel novel, you expect to see similarities and overlap in the novels but Collins cleverly does so. Collins’ decision to have Lucy Gray come from District Twelve showed readers the deeper meaning of President Snow’s distaste for the protagonist of the trilogy, Katniss Everdeen. The reference to the mockingjays and even the Hanging Tree song made the reader invested and think about the deeper meanings of the novel alongside the original series.

     The most interesting part of this novel is the way even those in the Capitol begin to see corruption in their government. Coriolanus starts the novel not thinking much of the society he lives in except for the fact that he is living at the bottom of society without anyone knowing. Throughout the novel, he learns the length the Capitol is willing to go in order to stay in power even if that means murdering those who speak out. Two of Snow’s classmates Sejanus Plinth and Clemensia Dovecote are outspoken about their treatment by the Capitol as two of its citizens. By the end, Coriolanus changes his thoughts of the government into ones that reflect in the trilogy. Coriolanus’s character development seemed natural and worked well and proved he wasn’t born evil.

     The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes proved to be as well written and developed as the previous novels and should be read by all fans of the trilogy. This book could stand on its own without any knowledge of the previous books but also give more incite to those who’ve read the series, which makes it such a great prequel novel. Collins truly outdid herself by making me question if the antagonist of the first novel was a decent human being that was just trying to survive. With the view of the games through a young Coriolanus Snow, the reader is engaged to see what causes the shift in character that makes him the antagonist of the other books. This read you will be left wanting to go back and reread the entire Hunger Games Trilogy and try to understand more details and hidden messages.


-Written by MacKenzie Umberger