Before he was President Snow, Coriolanus was a boy in the Capitol, struggling to make ends meet for his once-great family. His only shot at turning their luck around is to mentor the winning tribute in the Hunger Games. But with a tribute from District 12, does he stand a chance? And how far is he willing to go to ensure his own personal success?
Understanding a villain’s past, I think, is one of the best ways to get readers to fear them. If it’s done right, reading about a villain’s path to doing what they do can even make a reader question themself. Suzanne Collins captures this beautifully in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. At the beginning of the book, you feel for Coriolanus. He’s in a bad place and he’s desperate to get out of it. As the story progresses, though, and his actions get more and more questionable, the reader begins to wonder what they would have done in his place. Starting this book knowing that he will end up being a terrible person who does terrible things and yet rooting for him anyway is a strange experience.
The best part of reading this book is the feeling of helplessness that the reader experiences. Having read The Hunger Games, the reader knows, ultimately, how Coriolanus will end up. Seeing his journey to becoming that person is both horrifying and frustrating. Opportunities for him to redeem himself and change the course of what readers know will come to be pass him by time after time. I finished this book with an overwhelming sense of frustration. If only, if only, if only – but that’s what makes The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes so enjoyable. Maybe it’s masochistic of me, but this book filled every expectation and fear that I would sympathize with Snow and be devastated, and I loved it.
Yours in love and literature, Page.
Content warnings: mentions of war, death, blood, weapons
Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!