WRITTEN BY NAVYA JHA
Symposia rating : 7/10
Goodreads rating : 3.8/5
Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ stands as one of the most celebrated works of young adult dystopia and consequently, the recently released prequel, ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’, gained a lot of attention. Being someone that adores ‘The Hunger Games’, I was quite eager to read this novel. For those that aren't already aware, this prequel encircles President Coriolanus Snow. This in itself turned many readers off but I think Collins’ execution was commendable. In short, the novel encompasses Snow’s childhood and illustrates the difficulties he faced before securing his position as Panem’s president. The real question is did this prequel do justice to the phenomenal 2008 trilogy?
My favorite aspect of this novel was how competently it tied in with ‘The Hunger Games’. Collins effectively used this prequel to illustrate how the Panem from the trilogy came about alongside Snow’s rise to power. For instance, we understand how several features of the 74th Hunger Games came to be and are provided with other symbolic reasons as to Snow’s keenness towards Katniss. Many readers disliked these aspects because it makes the plot seem too perfectly laid out, but I think Collins did an impeccable job of connecting this book to the trilogy. I don’t think a prequel was necessary, but it was executed well nonetheless.
If you now think that you have a fair idea of how the storyline will progress, you are completely wrong. Coriolanus was born into an opulent family but lost all means of wealth when his parents passed away in the civil war. This left him, his grandmother and his cousin Tigris to build their own path in life. All they truly had was the potent Snow name. All I can really say without spoiling anything is that there are some bizarre plot twists. They successfully make your jaw drop but I think that’s majorly because of how very abrupt they are. They are significant contributors to the storyline so their precipitate nature was unfortunate.
Surprisingly enough, the plot encompasses a romance. (Yes, a romance involving Snow.) It was a wonderful touch to the novel but it was just so fraught. I didn’t for a second believe that the relationship could last. Moreover, the development of the love interest trope was utterly unsatisfactory. I was already taken aback by the fact that Snow was in love and the lack of build up did close to nothing to help that. Overall, it was far too dispensable to be present, especially in a prequel.
Another displeasing facet was the inessential number of characters. Collins has an unmatched ability to cultivate eccentric names such as Fabricia Whatnot. However, when you’re presented with like twenty names of expendable characters, they lose their connection to the characters’ essence. Another similar drawback was the ridiculous number of songs in the novel. They complement the story well but reading pages of poetry wasn’t what I’d signed up for. Are you, are you, coming you to the tree-
Nevertheless, the novel was a page turner. I was engrossed in the plot, despite how meandering it was, and I suppose that is enough to formulate a good book. It wasn’t as well knit as ‘The Hunger games’ but if you are a fan of the series, you should certainly give it a read. Whether it did justice to the trilogy or not is, after all, for you to decide.