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A Review of "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes"

Spoiler Warning!!!

By Sylvia RogersPublished 7 months ago 4 min read

“Some people call these Swamp Potatoes, but I like Katniss better, it's got a nice ring to it,” (340, Collins). This quote is said by Lucy Gray in the book The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, many Hunger Games fans would agree that placing the name Katniss would later foreshadow her purpose in The Hunger Games series. Although The Hunger Games was great, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes adds new depths and perspectives to the original story.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes makes The Hunger Games books more real. It gives context to The Hunger Games, the reason for its creation, the war between the capital and the districts, and the lead up to Coriolanus becoming the president. We know the idea of betting on tributes came from Coriolanus, he jokes “So you'd like it if we gave odds to the tributes?” (69, Collins) which is a reminder to the later quote by Effie Trinket “May the odds be ever in your favor,” (19, Collins) and later in the movie Katniss and Peeta see written on the wall “the odds are never in our favor”. All these quotes stemmed from Coriolanus’s idea of betting on the tributes which is probably a constant reminder in his life that the hunger games evolved from him. To add on, without The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and The Hunger Games doesn’t seem plausible. It is realistic that the war between the districts and capital started the hunger games. It also seems possible that the capital would punish the districts with the hunger games.

Another point that is demonstrated well in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the music. Clearly, “The Hanging Tree" is a wonderful song and The Ballad of Song Birds and Snakes is filled with more interesting sounds. It even explains the story behind “The Hanging Tree”; it’s about a man, called Arlo Chance, who is about to be hanged but calls out to his lover to run. The reason he was being executed was because he tried to stop the coal production in an attempt to rebel against the capital but accidentally killed three people. This new information to “The Hanging Tree” song adds depth to the already loved tune. There are also new songs mentioned in The Ballad for example “Pure As the Driven Snow” which is about Lucy Gray telling Coriolanus how she trusts him but also confiding in him about the rumors surrounding her, the song illustrates, “Everyone thinks they know all about me/ They slap me with labels and spit out their fables,” (374, Collins). A unique part of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is that although Lucy Gray does sing solo many times she also sings with a band called the Covey. She describes them as not being part of any district and traveling where they want until they became stuck in District 12. Lucy Gray explains in her own words as, “My people are Covey. Musicians by trade. We just took a wrong turn one day and were obliged to stay,” (45, Collins). Overall, The Ballad does a good job of giving context to songs in The Hunger Games and bringing in new addicting songs.

The most controversial part of The Ballad is the open ending. It is seen by the ending of the book that Coriolanus Snow has become an unfavorable character and became like his father who is described as ruthless, they even share the same cold, pale, blue eyes. Coriolanus even thinks that, “ Maybe it was best to take after his father. His mother had not really been tough enough for this world.” (66, Collins). In the end of the book, Lucy Gray and Coriolanus decide to leave the districts and start a new life. Deep down Coriolanus does not want to leave but knows he has to because he would be tied to the murder of Mayfair Lipp (the daughter of the mayor). As they are walking to their new life away from Panem they stop at the lake house and Coriolanus finds the weapons that he killed Mayfair with. Coriolanus starts to think and in the text it states, “Once the gun was gone, there’d be nothing to connect him to the murders. Absolutely nothing. No, wait. There would be one thing. Lucy Gray,” (388, Collins). As Coriolanus is contemplating what to do with the guns Lucy Gray slips away and Coriolanus is filled with dread that she will lead to his demise. He follows after her and gets bit by a snake, then the mockingjays make him go insane by mimicking “The Hanging Tree” song. In a moment of panic Coriolanus shoots bullets through the woods hoping one of them hits Lucy Gray. This ending leaves many fans questioning what truly happened to Lucy Gray. Did she live or die? Where did she go if she lived? But Lucy Gray’s life is a mystery and probably constantly makes Coriolanus worry if she will lead to the downfall of him. When Katniss leads the rebellion, Coriolanus probably experiences moments of déjà vu from Katniss and Lucy Gray’s similar, rebellious behaviors and from the song “The Hanging Tree”.

Overall, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a brilliant book and a captivating read. It sets the stage for The Hunger Games trilogy and gives wanted background information about Coriolanus Snow to explain how he became the president we all know.


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Sylvia Rogers

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Comments (2)

  • Emily7 months ago

    absolutely ate

  • Natalie Rogers7 months ago

    Amazing! How well thought out

SRWritten by Sylvia Rogers

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