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541 pages, Kindle Edition
First published May 19, 2020
Is it a villain origin/redemption story? We do tend to like redemption of villains, the origin stories that explain the eventual slide into darkness. Darth Vader. Joker. Severus Snape. Wicked Witch of the West. So is this book here to show us the tragic slide into villainy, the horror of the circumstances and the Games that eats away at you and taints you until there is not much left? Or is this just a case of innate sociopathy, an early glimpse of the soul that thrives on cruelty?
I think this book will alienate quite a few of Hunger Games fans. You see, it was easy to root for Katniss pitted against the ridiculous brutality of her world. She spoke to you, the girl who volunteered, the girl who defied her own self-preservation instinct to stand up for what’s right. But The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes makes it impossible to root for its protagonist because he is the ultimate antagonist, because we know what he will become.
“So he added a paragraph about his deep relief on winning the war, and the grim satisfaction of seeing the Capitol’s enemies, who’d treated him so cruelly, who’d cost his family so much, brought to their knees. Hobbled. Impotent. Unable to hurt him anymore. He’d loved the unfamiliar sense of safety that their defeat had brought. The security that could only come with power. The ability to control things. Yes, that was what he’d loved best of all.”
This is a story of the formation of a tyrant - but the one who understands what makes others rebel, and that, as we know, makes him even more dangerous. No surprise he is behind the whole concept of Hunger Games as a mandatory sickening voyeristic pageantry spectacle.
“We control it,” he said quietly. “If the war’s impossible to end, then we have to control it indefinitely. Just as we do now. With the Peacekeepers occupying the districts, with strict laws, and with reminders of who’s in charge, like the Hunger Games. In any scenario, it’s preferable to have the upper hand, to be the victor rather than the defeated.”It’s not a love story, despite the superficial resemblance to it. Snow wants Lucy, wants to possess her, wants her to be his — and wants it only as far as it suits his comfort. Don’t think that it ends up being a desperate turn to villainy after the loss of a loved one — that would be too cheap.
“His girl. His. Here in the Capitol, it was a given that Lucy Gray belonged to him, as if she’d had no life before her name was called out at the reaping. Even that sanctimonious Sejanus believed she was something he could trade for. If that wasn’t ownership, what was? With her song, Lucy Gray had repudiated all that by featuring a life that had nothing to do with him, and a great deal to do with someone else. Someone she referred to as “lover,” no less. And while he had no claim on her heart — he barely knew the girl! — he didn’t like the idea of anyone else having it either. Although the song had been a clear success, he felt somehow betrayed by it. Even humiliated.”No, there is no redemption for Coriolanus Snow. There is only understanding which at least for me led to even more repulsion. Because he saw a path that Katniss eventually took — and instead forged his own, the easier one, the one of cruel overcompensation for almost not taking it.
“He knew this would be easier if he wasn’t such an exceptional person. The best and the brightest humanity had to offer.”
*me waiting for something meaningful to happen in this book*
The Written Review
A new BookTube Video is Up all about whether you should buy, borrow or burn 2020 YA books! Let me know what you think!
Coriolanus Snow, future president of Panem, is just eighteen-years-old in this prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy.
“Well, as they said, it's not over until the mockingjay sings.”
You can blame it on the circumstances, the environment, but you made the choices you made, no one else.He's been given the girl from District 12 (Lucy Gray) to mentor and must find a way to bring her to the top.
Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.But there's darkness within Snow, a darkness that he's willing to embrace to get what he wants. And no one - not the Capitol, not his friends, not even Lucy Gray - better stand in his way.
Snow lands on topWow.